Adopting a vegetarian diet or a flexitarian lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular, but one of the most common worries or even obstacles is thinking you’re not going to get the necessary amount of protein.
The misconception is that a vegetarian or vegan diet will significantly reduce your protein intake because you’re no longer eating meat. However, plant-based protein is more available than you think so taking the veggie or flexi road is easier than ever. And many of us eating a diet rich in animal proteins are actually eating an excess of protein.
Why we need protein
Protein is essential to our body because it helps it grow and function properly. Think of protein as building blocks for our muscles, bones and tissues. It also provides energy and can help keep hunger at bay by filling you up.
How much protein you need varies according to age, lifestyle and gender, but the reference intake for protein- i.e. the average guideline recommendation- is 50g per day.
This may seem like a lot, especially when you are removing meat from the equation, but it’s actually easier than you may think to eat the recommend amount. Read on for some suggestions on how to hit your protein quota.
These cupboard (and freezer) staples area great source of plant protein. And that’s not to mention the wide variety of filling recipes you can cook with lentils, beans or chickpeas, to avoid a meal rut. So let’s break it down:
- Lentils have about 7.5g of protein per 100g
- Chickpeas (the key ingredient in hummus!) store approx. 7g of protein power in 100g
- Beans have between 5-9g of protein per 100g, depending on the type of bean.
Lunch, dinner, snacks? Sorted.
Who would have thought that the little, green peas are such a protein powerhouse. 100g of our cooked peas have approx. 5g of protein. On top of that, they also are a source of vitamin C and fibre, and have other nutritional benefits, making them a great, affordable source of vegetarian protein.
Edamame beans, also known as young soybeans, make for a great non-meat protein with 14g of protein 100g cooked.
They’re sold in their pods and are a great snack or starter idea. Packed with nutrients including iron, edamame beans are a tasty addition to a salad or a stir fry for an extra dose of goodness.
Greek yogurt is a vegetarian protein powerhouse and it’s so versatile that you can have it for breakfast with fruit and seeds, as a snack, or you can mix it in curries, sauces or dips. At approx. 6g of protein per 100g, you can’t go wrong with Greek yogurt.
When is the last time you had cottage cheese? I bet you didn’t even think that this snack stores about 9g of protein per 100g. You can enjoy it either savoury or sweet.
Eggs definitely come first on our high protein list, and they are also rich in other nutrients too.
An egg has approx. 6g of protein, depending on its size, and you could literally have it at any time of day.
If you are looking for an excuse to eat more peanut butter, this is it. Peanut butter has approx. 7g of protein per 2 tablespoons. Blend it in a smoothie, spread it on toast or even better, on pancakes, or add it to your porridge and start your day right.
Cutting down on meat may sound daunting but just look at all the alternatives above. It’s easier than ever to achieve a healthy balanced diet and reduce your meat intake. Explore our new range of green cuisine and start cooking!