There are many protein rich foods available to vegetarians, and popular concern that vegetarians lack protein is misplaced. Plant protein has the advantage of containing reduced saturated fat associated with meat protein.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body, responsible for a wide range of functions such as managing metabolism and organ function.
- The body makes proteins by combining substances called amino acids.
- 20 amino acids make up human proteins, of which 8 are essential amino acids and need to be present in the diet.
- An excess of protein in the diet will be converted to body fat and can contribute to obesity.
Vegetarian sources of protein include:
- Nuts, beans and pulses, such as quinoa - these have very high levels of protein
- Eggs - have the perfect balance of amino acids
- Soya is very versatile and found in soya milk, tofu, miso and ready made products such as burgers and sausages
- QuornTM is a form of myco-protein and sold in a range of forms
- Rice, grains, pasta, bread and potatoes, although not generally known for their protein, play an important part in your protein intake
Vegetarian food of animal origin such as cheese, milk and eggs have a good balance of essential amino acids. However, food groups such as cereals, rice and legumes (peas, lentils and beans) have an imbalance of 2 of the essential amino acids. To provide a 'complete' protein, containing a balance of all 8 essential amino acids, it is recommended to consume a combination of cereals and legumes in your diet e.g. beans on toast.
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You can find out more about protein by reading the in-depth protein fact sheet.