People become vegetarian for different reasons. Some are focused on controlling their health, while others could not eat a living creature. Either way, if you’re not careful, you could lack a crucial protein intake.
Why Is Protein so Important?
Protein is a vital component of every cell. Protein builds, repairs, and maintains tissue, skin, blood, organs, bones, muscle, and cartilage. Compared to ‘micronutrients,’ protein is a ‘macronutrient.’ Meaning you need a substantial amount to stay healthy.
Also Read: 12 Best Sources of Protein
It’s important to consume enough protein because our body does not store it like fat or carbohydrates. If there’s an excess of protein, it’s broken down by the liver and extracted. Therefore, you need to consume a healthy amount of protein regularly.
Why are Some Vegetarians Protein Deficient?
To maintain your health, you need approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That works out to be around 0.36 grams per pound (approximately 46 grams a day for women and 56 grams a day for men). Protein is made of twenty kinds of amino acids. Who cannot make nine of these amino acids within the human body?
We rely on our diet to get these nine ‘essential amino acids.’ Meat is an excellent source because it provides all nine. When you’re a vegetarian, you need to know which plant-based items will provide you with the amino acids you need. There will be a void in your diet, which needs to be properly filled.
Protein-Rich Foods for a Vegetarian Diet
As long as you supplement properly, you will successfully consume all the essential amino acids needed. Yes, protein is essential, but we do not need copious amounts. Only around 10% of the calories we take need to come from protein. That leaves a lot of spare room on your plate to fill up on other vital nutrients.
The following foods will provide you with protein to maintain your health:
#1. Milk and Eggs:
One egg will provide you with approximately 6 grams of protein, while 1 cup of milk can provide you with 10 grams. Both of these food items are considered complete protein sources (containing all nine essential amino acids). These are only offered within a vegetarian diet, yet vegans can still supplement properly.
#2. Peanut Butter and Whole Wheat:
Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein. However, it is not a complete source. When you consume around 2 Tbsp of peanut butter, you gain around 8 grams of protein. Once you combine that with a couple of slices of whole-grain bread, you will have a complete source. Two slices of whole wheat bread will provide you with an additional 7 grams of protein.
This tiny powerhouse ingredient isn’t a grain; it’s a seed. It is also a complete source of protein, with 1 cup yielding 8 grams. It’s a highly versatile ingredient, so Who can incorporate it into a wide variety of dishes.
This meat substitute is also a complete protein, providing 10 grams per 1/2 cup of tofu. When soybeans are consumed, you get a whopping 29 grams per 1 cup serving. Just remember, when buying soy, purchase organic. This will allow you to avoid any potential negative effects of GMO products.
There are so many great options for beans and bean recipes. When you consume kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas, you will provide your body with 15 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. Since beans are an incomplete source, it’s important to complement them with another source. Consume legumes with either grains, seeds, or nuts. For example, mix lentils in with brown rice.
There are many health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet, but it is a diet that needs some attention and care. You have to provide your body with the protein it needs to function. Like always, get creative with your food. Understand what ingredients do, building the perfect diet for you and your health.