Sources Of Protein For A Vegetarian Diet

This article briefly examines the different types of vegetarian diets and explains the best ways to incorporate protein into the diet.

A person who consumes a vegetarian diet is considered to be at lower risk for several diseases including many types of cancer and heart disease. One reason for this is that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and legumes tends to replace fattier foods in one's diet. However, many vegetarians often do not eat enough of certain important nutritional components such as protein.

There are several types of vegetarian diets. Vegan is the most restrictive form and includes only foods of plant origin. Lactovegetarians eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, and milk products. These two types of vegetarian diets tend to offer the greatest risk of not getting enough protein. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, on the other hand, include in their diets eggs, which not only provide an adequate source of protein but also are good sources of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.

How does a person determine how much protein he or she needs? The most accurate way is to consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can provide specific answers to questions about recommended daily allowances for all minerals, vitamins, etc. as well as the best way's an individual can include each in his or her diet. However, there are a few simple foods that will help insure that vegetarians eat adequate protein.

By far, one of the best sources of vegetarian protein, are soy protein isolates which contain ninety percent of protein. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has given these isolates a rating of one, meaning that this is a source of protein equal to that found in meats and certain dairy products. And, with the increasing number of vegetarians, soy protein isolates are now found in numerous foods including breads, pasta, cereals, soups, and more.

At one time, it was difficult to find vegetarian sources of protein, such as tofu, soymilk, and other soy-based products. Today, however, even the regular supermarket offers a fairly diverse selection of these foods. Not only that, but the taste and texture of many have improved dramatically. Some suggestions for including these foods into a diet are:

*stir-fry cubes of tofu and diced vegetables in a teriyaki or ginger sauce and serve over


*instead of regular milk, pour soymilk over cereal (many cereals now feature soy flakes

as well)

*substitute veggie ground "meat" in pasta and rice mixes calling for hamburger or turkey

*visit a health food store or whole foods market to check out their selection of vegetarian


If trying tofu or other soy products isn't an option yet, protein can still be a part of a vegetarian diet through two to three servings daily of cooked dried peas and beans, nuts and seeds, or eggs. (Note: whole egg intake should be limited to two to four each week.). Furthermore, many nutritionists now agree that eating complementary proteins such as rice or pasta isn't necessary at each meal as long as vegetarians eat a variety of nutrient-packed foods daily.

In conclusion, eating a vegetarian diet doesn't have to involve complex recipes or other difficulties as long as an individual follows a few simple steps to eat adequate protein every day. In the long run, learning these steps will pave the way to greater health and less risk of contracting many diseases.

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