That Protein Question

Anytime the topic of my vegetarianism comes up, the question I am faced with the most is that of protein.

Where do you get your protein?

How can you get enough protein?

It is a common misconception that you can only get the protein the human body needs from meat.  I remember being a small child and being told by my mother and stepmother that I needed to eat protein so that I would be healthy and strong. And the more protein I ate, the healthier I would grow up to be.

So what is protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient that is critical in building and repairing muscle tissue, as well as the maintenance of a lot of important bodily functions. Proteins consist of 20 different amino acids, 11 of which can be produced by our bodies naturally. The remaining 9 (known as essential amino acids) come from food. So it not the protein we need, but those 9 missing essential amino acids.

Are those 9 essential amino acids exclusive to meat?

They are not. The essential amino acids the human body needs are produced naturally by plants, and are found in meat because the animals we eat eat those plants. Not every plant contains all of the essential amino acids we need, but with a balanced and varied diet, it is more than possible to have all of them in your diet.

How much protein does a person need?

The World Health Organization recommends that just 5% of the calories you eat in a day should be protein. For an adult woman this translates as 29grams of protein assuming the 2300 calories a day is being followed. So what does 5% translate as? According to the World Health Organization, a single serving of potatoes contains 8% (9% for sweet potatoes) which is more than enough to fulfill your daily recommended intake.

Where can I find protein?

Protein can be found in most vegetables, specifically the leafy green variety such as kale or spinach. Legumes, beans, lentils, nuts are other fantastic sources of plant based protein, and are all more than sufficient to fulfill that daily recommended intake.

In short, my plant based diet is in no way lacking protein.

Here is a quick protein filled recipe for you to try:

Red Bean Sloppy Joes

What you need:

1 can of red beans

1/4 cup indian marsala powder

1/4 cup curry powder

1/4 cup tomato sauce

Bread Buns

Drain the red beans, and quickly rinse. Cook in a pan on a medium heat.

Add the spices and tomato sauce and stir in thoroughly.

Serve on bread buns.

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Why Vegetarian Deliciousness?

I have been a vegetarian for almost 8 years now for a variety of reasons, and every time the topic of my diet comes up I am faced with the same couple of questions. Why? And what do you eat?

A common idea among anyone calling themselves carnivores is that you cannot possibly have a meal that is either tasty or substantial unless it contains meat. They can rarely grasp the concept of a meal without meat, even though they probably have meatless meals every now and then without even thinking about it. My brothers claim to be hardened carnivores, but they will often happily devour just a plate of fries, grilled cheese, or pasta with a tomato sauce. But you mention the word ‘meatless’ or ‘vegetarian’ and they don’t believe it can be done.

A lot of people hear vegetarian and seem to think that I live on a diet of salad and raw vegetables, bland and boring. I do eat salad, but I eat a lot more besides. They can’t seem to equate variety with vegetarian, and yet I enjoy a lot more than the same handful of dishes.

Over the last 8 years, I have cooked and eaten a lot of meatless dishes, and I have made it my silent mission to show the people around me just how much variety I do get to enjoy. If anything, I have found that since being vegetarian, I have had to get more creative in the kitchen than I ever was before. You can do some amazing things with a slice of watermelon or a peach, or a beautiful slab of halloumi cheese. I experiment a lot, sometimes with disappointing results but generally I discover something new and delicious. Being vegetarian, I have had to remove some of the boundaries placed on certain foods. Fruit can become a centerpiece for your main course rather than just a snack or a dessert. You can peruse the produce section of the grocery store and come home with a bounty of deliciousness. You become braver when it comes to trying new fruits and vegetables, and I have new experiences with food even now.

So why Vegetarian Deliciousness? A vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be boring, or bland. If you aren’t afraid to try new things, or get creative, you can enjoy a wide array of foods. Vegetarian Deliciousness will be a taster of the variety of foods you can enjoy, along with a little bit of encouragement to try something new in the kitchen.