Myth Busters: Protein in a Vegetarian Diet
“I can’t be a vegetarian because I need protein” is a sentence often said by the average meat eating gym goer. It cannot be denied that meat does contain a large amount of protein in a concentrated portion, however there are a variety of different alternatives which will allow you to get your protein fix without consuming meat based products, and some of them might surprise you. So, let’s look at how you can get enough protein in a vegetarian diet.
Some research shows that being vegetarian is better for our bodies, minds and the planet, but when it comes down to dietary requirements, there are a couple of myths that need busting.
Myth 1 – You Can Only Find Protein In Meat
Protein isn’t exclusive to meat, in fact almost all foods (aside from sugar and alcohol) contain some. Half a cup of beans has the same protein content as one ounce of meat.
To get all of the essential amino acids, you should focus on eating a mix of protein-packed plants, including lentils, beans, quinoa, nuts, seeds (chia, hemp, sunflower etc.), and milk (almond or soya works if you’re vegan/cutting out dairy). Vegetarian diets also tend to have higher levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and vitamins C and E than omnivorous ones – all important requirements if you are an active person/consistently training.
Being a Vegetarian Is Expensive
Wong again! Meat is one of the most expensive foods you can buy. Other vegetarian ingredients which are abundant in protein include tofu, chickpeas, peanut butter, brown rice and dairy products (such as yoghurt, egg and cheese). Depending which brands you buy, they aren’t costly at all. Shop around, try new things and see what’s out there.
If you find it difficult to cut meat out because you’re used to the taste/consistency and it is so embedded into your diet – try Quorn. Quorn is a great meat substitute and it contains mycoprotein; a source of protein that is high in fibre and low in saturated fat. It has all the essential amino acids found in animal protein sources. In 100g of Quorn mince, there is roughly 16g of protein (beef mince only has 4g more of protein per 100g, which really isn’t that much when you think about it). 300g of Quorn mince comes up at roughly the same price as 300g of beef mince (approximately £1.60), and with it being guilt free, it’s a no brainer. You’ll be saving the planet with every meal.
It is more than possible to fuel your workout on a plant based diet – just look at tennis stars Martina Navratilova and Venus Williams. Expand your palette and experiment with different high-protein foods found in dairy and plants, or do one better and cut out the dairy altogether – there are so many dairy alternatives filled with protein and your body will thank you for it. As long as you are getting sources of protein and B12 in your diet, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try. Overcome the stigma, overcome the myths. Physically you will feel on top of your game.