By CJ’s Fitbumps
The decision to follow a vegetarian diet is a personal one and many who chose to remove meat and animal products from their diet are often concerned that this may mean they potentially do not get enough protein in their diet.
Protein is needed to help build a strong healthy body and maintain an effective immune and hormonal system. Proteins are everywhere in the body – in muscle, bone, brain cells, blood cells, skin, hair and fingernails and the constant processes of repair and renewal can only take place inside our bodies with the aid of protein.
Going vegetarian and boosting your protein intake
Protein is made up of smaller molecules called amino acids which are also known as the building blocks of life as they are used by every cell in the body. The body is able to synthesise the full range of amino acids from what are known as essential amino acids so it is important to eat a wide range of protein sources to ensure these are ingested.
Depending on the animal products that are consumed, vegetarians can broadly be classified into one of the following:
- Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians – Avoids red meat, chicken and fish but do eat dairy products such as eggs, milk and cheese.
- Lacto-Vegetarians – Avoids all meat, no eggs but do have milk.
- Vegans – No meat, eggs, milk or animal products of any kind.
- Pescatarian – no meat yet will eat fish
Regardless of the preferred choice followed by an individual, it is important to consume a wide range of the following foods to ensure their daily protein requirements are met. The following list provides a great range of protein-rich foods that can be enjoyed on a meat-free diet!
- Legumes – such as chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and peas.
- Nuts & Seeds – raw, unsalted and unroasted are the best choice with sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds being the most popular high-protein seeds.
- Dairy Products – choose low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese.
- Cereals & Grains – look for wholegrain products such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, rye, quinoa and buckwheat.
- Soyabean – is extremely versatile, the most common form of this bean is tofu or tempeh (fermented soya). Other products include milk, yoghurt, sausages and other meat replacement substitutes.
- Fruit & Vegetables – loaded with vitamins and minerals, chose a rainbow of colours and load up the plate.
- Health food supplements – there are many products available that harness the power of protein such as spirulina and seaweed.
- Textured Vegetable Protein – such as Quorn, is a fantastic quick meat substitute for a multitude of meals. Great for pasta sauces, in tacos, for making your own veggie burgers, meatloaf or soy meatballs,
- Eggs – if kept in the diet can be made into many dishes such as omelettes, frittatas or simply hard-boiled in a sandwich.
Author CJ’s Fitbumps – CJ is a pre and postnatal holistic health coach, group exercise instructor, personal trainer, nutrition expert and author of The Winning Physique. She provides specialist pre and postnatal fitness classes and coaching at Riverside Ice and Leisure as well as offers one to one personalised health coaching programs lifestyle consultations and personal training. Find me at www.cjsfitbumps.com, email me via [email protected] or call me 07557683770.