But if you're vegetarian where do you get your protein?


Jars of dried beans

As a vegetarian who rarely eats dairy or eggs, I’d say the most common question I get is about protein. Where do I get it? How much do I have? Is it too much? Is it not enough?

Protein is an essential building block making up about 25% of each cell in our body. There are two types of proteins: complete and incomplete proteins. A complete protein is one that contains all nine ‘essential’ amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. An incomplete protein, on the other hand, is one that contains some but not all of the nine essential amino acids.

There’s a common misconception that vegetarian and vegan diets don’t contain enough protein, or at least, the right kinds of protein. This, according to nutritionist Rachael Matthews is a myth as while many complete proteins are found mostly in animal-based products, like meat, fish, dairy and eggs, they can just as easily be found in plant-based sources like soy, quinoa, hemp, and chia. Similarly, many incomplete protein sources are typical to a vegetarian or vegan diet including things like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and some vegetables.

According to Matthews, where it was once thought that us vegetarians and vegans need to consume supplementary protein sources to maintain optimal health, this has now been discredited. Studies show that a plant-based diet that includes a range of vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds will meet the standard requirements.

So, fear not my fellow vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike. It seems that protein can be found basically everywhere as long as you remember that variety is key.

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