Being vegetarian is now an accepted lifestyle, but there are some concerns when it comes to finding healthy foods to fulfill daily nutrition needs. One of the main concerns in vegetarian lifestyle is finding proper protein sources, which mostly come from animal-based foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. If you are committed to vegetarian lifestyle, you need to know where you can get enough protein for your daily nutritional needs.
Why Protein in Healthy Foods is Important
Protein has important function as cell builder, which is important in building muscles and tissues. Enough protein will also cause satisfied feeling, which is helpful if you are trying to lose weight. Protein is also important in energy building, and helps your muscles recover after workout or other physical activities. Finally, protein also serves as an important factor in wound healing protein. Without protein-rich foods, your vegetarian lifestyle will be severely impacted.
Finding protein-rich vegetarian foods can be quite challenging. While various plant-based foods do have protein, the protein types are usually incomplete (which means they don’t contain all essential amino acids our body needs). Foods that contain complete amino acids are mostly animal-based, so if you decide to have vegetarian lifestyle, you need to eat various types of plant-based foods.
Tips to Get Enough Vegetarian Protein
The only way for vegetarians to get enough protein from their meals is by eating huge varieties of foods. Grains, seeds, eggplants, mushrooms and lentils can provide adequate amount of protein, but not as high as animal-based products (assuming that you are a vegan, and don’t consume eggs or milk). To add protein in your diet, add soy, which is the ultimate vegetarian protein that contains nearly complete essential amino acids. There are lots of methods to include soy in your diet, including eating foods such as tofu, vegetarian “meat,” and soy milk.
Tofu is a versatile ingredient, so you can replace various meat-based dishes with tofu as main ingredients. For example, instead of sweet and sour pork or beef, replace the meat with tofu cuts. Instead of milk pudding, make tofu pudding. Instead of beef taco, make tofu taco with black beans, avocadoes, tomatoes, onions, and salsa. For quick, healthy dinner, you can try stir-fry vegetables with tofu cuts on top of brown rice. Don’t forget to include more vegetables; the more ingredients you consume, the more complete your nutrition intake.
Tips to Eat Vegetarian “Meat”
Vegetarian “meat” products such as sausages, “chicken” strips and tofu meatballs can be great products for vegetarians that just convert from eating meat. Also, since they are usually made of soy, they can add good amount of protein in daily meal. However, when looking for these products, make sure you choose products that contain less sodium (ideally, you should look for products that contain 250 gram of sodium or lower per package). Also, make sure they contain at least 15 to 20 grams of protein per serving, which is the ideal protein intake per day.
Having vegetarian lifestyle will give you new experience in eating healthy, but you must make sure to eat healthy foods that fulfill all nutritional needs in a day, including protein.