Protein and vegetarian diets
Let’s chat about protein and vegetarian diets
One of the most common concerns with respect to vegetarian or vegan diets is protein. From personal experience I can tell you that when I tell someone my daughter is vegetarian they inevitably ask how she gets her protein.
Why do people people think you can’t get protein on a vegetarian or vegan diet?
There are so many options for protein that I find it upsetting meat-eaters can’t look past animal sources of protein. Believe it or not but plants have protein too! Yes, they do. And by plants I don’t just mean those leafy greens you put in your salad but beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are all plant-based sources of protein.
Now, I know that lots of you are not quite sure if your vegetarian is getting enough of this nutrient. You are probably thinking “How do we know if we are getting enough protein?” Well, according to this One Green Planet article, here are a few signs:
- Anxiety/depression (amino acids fuel the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine that prevent depression and anxiety)
- Poor injury recovery (protein fuels muscle recovery and regrowth)
- Hair Loss/Breakage (protein supports collagen production in the hair, skin, and nails)
- Inability to focus (amino acids support brain performance)
- Constant muscle pain (protein helps muscle recovery and aids in repair)
- Brittle/Breaking Nails (protein supports collagen production in the hair, skin, and nails)
- Poor muscle tone, even with exercise (protein builds and maintains lean muscle mass)
- Constantly fatigued (protein is needed for a healthy metabolism)
- Digestive issues (protein aids in digestion)
Now I wouldn’t jump to conclusions right away that your vegetarian is suffering from a lack of protein. Take a few days and keep a food journal. This will help you better understand what they are eating and if in fact they are not getting enough protein. If you still feel this is the case then it might be worthwhile talking to a professional to determine if diet is driving these issues.
In any case, here are a few suggestions to increase the protein content of meals:
- Serve a bean salad or a scoop of quinoa on the side
- Sprinkle nuts or seeds on top
- Add a side of hummus to your meal
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