Where do vegetarians get their protein?
Before we jump into where vegetarians/vegans get their protein, we need to know how much protein our body needs to function optimally. The Institute of Medicine suggests that the average adult should consume about 46-56 grams of protein a day. By looking at it in terms of percentage, 10-35% of your daily calories would have to consist of proteins. Unless you’re a serious body builder or somebody who is keeping track of your macros, you probably wouldn’t give a hoot about these numbers. To help you visualise this, one large chicken breast contains about 30 grams of protein. So, if you’re happy, healthy and eating a perfectly normal diet, you should be getting enough proteins into your system, maybe even more.
Many plant-based proteins lack certain amino acids that are found in animal protein. Vegetarians/vegans would need to combine a few plant-based proteins, like tofu and brown rice, in order to get the complete set of essential amino acids that are found in animal protein. Also, you’ll be getting plenty of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that come with eating plant-based proteins (plus points!).
My personal favourite green proteins in no particular order are:
- Black beans
- Nuts and nut butters
- Quinoa (you can buy cereals that contain them)
- Brown Rice
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
Just thinking about that list makes me HUNGRY! If you cannot stand their individual taste, there are many ways that you can incorporate them into your meals. You can toss them in your salad, make soups or even add them to your breakfast yoghurt or froyo! Froyo and pumpkin seeds, my favourite! Trust me, your taste buds would sing!
Don’t worry if you end up consuming too much protein, just as long as they’re plant-based proteins. Recent studies have shown that increasing plant-based protein intake to 20-25% of calories while cutting out refined carbohydrates can reduce the risk of heart disease.
I still get stares and I can feel the people around me rolling their eyes when I eat a very vege-fied meal. Even my kakak has a few things to say about my lifestyle. Well, I don’t really blame them. Throughout history, meaty meals were a symbol of an affluent lifestyle. Meals without meat were for the poor. These are just perceptions that humans have created. Do it for yourself and your health. Famous Olympic coach Joe Vigil did not say “…eat as though you were a poor man…” for no reason! That translates to lots of whole grains and vegetables!