People don’t get tired of asking me this question every time I discuss nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
“How will you get enough protein being a vegetarian?”
So, I am not just a vegetarian, but come from a Jain community. You’d not believe it, but approx. 99% of Jains are either vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians or vegans.
I don’t think one has to turn into a meat-eater to obtain protein, as I know there are equally great alternatives for protein sources for vegetarians.
Whatever your reasons were/are for switching to a vegetarian diet, you must ignore all the inaccurate statements that might come your way and shut them with facts and statistics.
You will have enough information about the natural source of protein for vegetarians to help you add credibility to your points if you get bothered with questions about the lack of protein sources for vegetarians.
Vegetarians can live a healthy life without any protein deficiency, and that’s what I want to shout out loud to the world who thinks otherwise.
This blog aims to talk about protein sources for vegetarians Indians and the importance of protein in our daily diet. It will further clear all your doubts and misconceptions about protein consumption.
And if you’re someone who is struggling to understand all about good sources of protein for vegetarians, you have landed on the right page.
From sharing what protein is, my protein story, its myths, minimum protein intake, some of the best and readily available vegetarian protein sources, etc. We’ve also shared all the required data to help you kick start your mindful and delightful journey for a healthier life.
Remember, you can be the best version of yourself even when you’re vegetarian as long as you understand the power of eating a combination of healthy food.
Let’s dig deeper.
What is protein?
Protein is the vital macronutrient your body needs for healthy functioning, better growth, sound physical health, and repair of cells. As a fact, protein is present in your muscle, bone, skin, hair, and practically every other body part.
Proteins are made by building blocks called ‘amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, out of which nine are essential and can be obtained from food only.
We get protein either from plant or animal sources.
- Plant-based protein sources include pulses, grains, legumes, vegetables, etc.
- Animal-based protein includes chicken, fish, pork, etc.
Protein Myths, Facts And Stats.
There have been many fallacies around protein deficiency in India, which contributes directly or indirectly to the lower protein intake. Moreover, 30% of the Indian population are vegetarian, making it even more necessary for people to be aware and informed about the balanced protein-rich vegetarian diet.
A recent study authorized by the Right To Protein Initiative has shown how over 70% of mothers in the Indian household have such misconceptions about protein-
- Protein is difficult to digest.
- Protein leads to weight gain.
- Adding protein to the diet is expensive.
- Protein is only for bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts.
Shockingly and unfortunately, while 95% of Indian mothers know of ‘protein’, only 3% understand protein functions. Did you know that? The lack of information, less awareness, and poor understanding of protein add to the increased rate of protein deficiency among Indians.
My Protein Story And How I Shifted From Unhealthy To Vegetarian Protein Diet
I’ve been a vegetarian ( Lacto-vegetarian ) my whole life, and I was no different from that ‘protein ignorant’ section in India. My diet was more of starchy carbs with negligible protein. I always connected protein with animal meat or eggs, which wasn’t wrong but was incomplete information.
When I made physical fitness a part of my daily regime in 2018, I learned the eye-opening truth and importance of healthy food, the essential nutrients, and the long-lasting power pack benefits of eating right.
“Adding protein to my everyday meal changed my life completely. I started to feel more energetic, light and active. As a result, my body began to feel more robust than before and better combat infections and diseases.”
So, I decided to be more aware of the contents of my plate.
The Benefits Of Protein Sources For Vegetarians
“Being a vegetarian really saves lives.”
You have enough reasons to stick to your vegetarian protein diet, and some of them are-
- Prevent cancer
- Aids in weight loss
- Bone strengthening
- Maintain muscle mass
- Better management of type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of chronic disease
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Lower blood pressure and hypertension
Let’s not ignore the benefits the vegetarian protein diet has on the environment-
- Reduced carbon and greenhouse gases emissions
- Lesser use of pesticides and fertilizers
- Zero cruelty to animals
- Saves water
Don’t forget that protein has endless benefits and will not just aid you in your old age but will keep your hair, skin, muscles and organs in the healthiest state.
Even Vegetarians Can Have Enough Protein Every Day. Yes, You Heard Me Right!
Let’s talk about the worldwide concern of vegetarians lacking sufficient protein. There is no doubt that animal-based food is rich in proteins. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t enough protein sources for vegetarians. Many plant-based foods are rich in essential amino acids (ex-, Quinoa, Mushrooms, Amarnath, Soybeans, Nuts, etc.)
A balanced and well-planned protein-rich vegetarian diet is the secret to having all the essential nutrients. For example- a perfect meal with a combination of protein-rich lentils, legumes, grains, nuts with rich protein vegetables can offer critical amino acids.
Whether you are an adult, child, pregnant or breastfeeding, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2016 has stated that you could get all the essential nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B- 12 from vegetarian or vegan diet food.
Now, Let’s Understand Your Minimum Protein Requirement
You don’t have to eat a bucket full of lentils or a jar full of milk, but as per the various studies, aim to make 25% of your plate healthy by adding high rich protein food.
Indian Council Of Medical Research recommends a minimum of 48 – 50 grams of protein/per day. According to the studies, the dietary allowance of protein for an average adult is 0.8- 1 grams for every kilogram of body weight.
Besides this, the shocking statistics show that approx.. 73% of Indian’s lack protein in their diet while over 90% are unaware of the standard protein requirement.
Pay attention to some factors while deciding the amount of protein your body needs-
- Your Activity level,
- Muscle mass,
- Physique goals,
- Overall health.
Finally, Time To Explore Some Best Protein Sources For Vegetarians
Check out some all-time popular veg. Protein food sources with the approximate content of protein/per 100 grams.
Soy Products- 16.6g/100gms
Low-fat yoghurt- 5.7g/100gms
Cottage cheese- 11g/100gms
Cow Milk- 7.7g/240ml
Peanut butter- 25g/100gms
Lentils (popularly known as ‘Daal’ in India)- 9g/100gms
Legumes (kidney beans, black beans, etc.)- 5g/100 for green peas
Nuts (Pistachio, Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts etc.)- 20g/100gms
Brussels sprouts 3.4g/100gms
Chia Seeds- 17g/100gms
Sweet Potato- 1.6g/100gms
Keep in mind that different recipes require different quantities of protein.
In addition, there are various wholesome vegetarian protein bars, vegetarian protein powder (only recommended for hardcore fitness enthusiasts), veg granola, etc. These are a few great options to add to your daily protein options.
A balanced vegetarian protein diet can be the smartest choice for your healthy lifestyle.
Make sure to keep track of regular protein consumption to avoid excessive protein intake.
“All The Vegetarians Can Consume Good Amount Of Protein Like Any Other Non-Vegetarian.”
Moving towards a vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy for you and the planet, only if you’re doing it strategically. So, my vegetarian fellas, ditch excuses, fight gracefully with logic and take some protein action in your life.
Are you already on board?
In the comments section below, let me know if this blog helped you clear your doubts about protein consumption and all about the importance of vegetarian protein.
What is the minimum protein requirement for an average adult in India?
The dietary allowance of protein for an average adult is 0.8- 1 grams for every kilogram of body weight.
What are some vegetarian protein sources?
Some of the vegetarian protein sources include tofu, soy products, edamame, lentils, pulses, nuts, avocado, spinach, etc.
Disclaimer- All content, including advice, suggestions, and health benefits provided on this blog, is only informational. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. We recommend that you or any other person who has a medical concern consult a professional or doctor for more information.