There used to be a joke (if you can call it that) about vegetarians – although they might be saving the planet, they’re a group of pasty, unhealthy looking folk who tend to…break wind….often. As with most stereotypes, this is untrue – or at least it is now!
With any dietary choice, it’s preferable to maintain a certain balance in what you eat. While there is no real “balanced diet” – even health professionals disagree about what exactly is best – and everyone is different in their size, shape and metabolism, it is generally accepted that you need to eat protein and carb to stay healthy along with a lower amount of fat, in addition to getting all your vitamins for the day. And water is good too.
The problem for vegetarians is that protein is very much a meat thing. Vegetables as a rule are low protein, so the clue is in the name! Vegans (and don’t shoot me if I get this wrong – never actually met a vegan) are not too keen on any animal products, including eggs and milk, which are also sources of protein. And fish is out too.
If you’re OK with the notion of eggs and such like, then a quick mushroom and cheese omelette will give you a protein boost. Commercial products in the form of protein shakes are also viable, but the source of the protein content in these may be a problem based on your dietary beliefs. Some shakes are artificially synthesized, others are made from animal bases – check the label! However, as per a previous post, I’m not so keen on artificial anything as an aid to weight loss…
So where can a vegetarian get protein? Quite a few places, it seems. Whole grains are a good start – but if you are following a slow carb diet, they are probably best avoided. Beans, lentils, legumes and nuts all contain protein in varying amounts – just eat the nuts (especially peanut butter) in moderation. If you can’t manage moderation, don’t eat them at all! They’ll come back and get you!!
Meat substitutes also often contain relatively high amounts of protein, but again these things are down to personal preference. If you don’t eat meat due to the effect on the environment and/or your feelings about eating animals, go ahead. If you just don’t like the feel of meat in your mouth then forget about it!
Do what you can, stick to what you believe in, and it will come right in the end – as always, don’t get too caught up in all the numbers, and don’t beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon. That wagon keeps moving…you’ve got to get back on.
So to answer the question, “Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?” – yes, they do if they put their mind to it. But that applies to anyone, vegetarian or otherwise.