Available Protein Sources For Vegetarians

In a conventional diet protein is obtained from meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products such as cheese. These all contain complete proteins that contain all the essential amino acids that are needed for the human body. A vegetarian diet must derive protein from other sources.

Protein is found in many vegetable sources. Some of these vegetable proteins are complete in that they contain all the essential amino acids just like animal protein. Others are incomplete and must be combined together to produce a complete protein that the body can use.

Most plant foods contain some protein. A vegetarian who eats a wide variety of foods will consume sufficient protein in the course of day.

Nuts and seeds are an under appreciated source of protein. They can be added to a wide range of sweet and savoury vegetarian dishes.

Soya beans are source of complete protein and for that reason soya products are an important part of a vegetarian diet. Commercially manufactured soya based meat substitutes are now widely available in supermarkets. They come in variety of forms and are often made into pies, burgers, sausages and other ready prepared products that offer the busy vegetarian a convenience food.

Soya milk can be found in most chiller cabinets next to the cows’ milk. You will also fine soya yoghurts and soya cheeses. A more traditional soya product is tofu which has long been used in Chinese cooking.

Another meat substitute is mycoprotein which is made from a variety of fungus. Like soya protein, it is sold in various forms that can be used in a range of recipes. You will also find it in ready made products often sold under the brand name “Quorn”.

Beans, peas and lentils, known collectively as pulse, make up one of the major sources of protein for a vegetarian. They are incomplete protein and must be combined with other incomplete proteins such as grains, or complete proteins such as eggs or milk, to make a complete protein food. Usually this is done in one dish as beans and rice or beans on toast, but this is not usually necessary as the body can store protein and combine it later.

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