Being vegetarian and protein; how to get the balance right

Many meat eaters who want to make the change to vegetarianism are often concerned that they may not have a balanced diet; protein in particular being the element they feel they may be missing the most.

There are a number of foods however which are a rich source of protein which aren’t meat based and there also some great meat-substitute products you can buy to ensure you enjoy a full and healthy three meals a day.

How much protein is needed

Experts say that we need around 1 gram of protein per day for every kilo of our body weight. For the average person that’s around 55 grams and because of the availability of meat in shops and takeaways, the truth is that meat eaters are usually consuming more than they need to do a swap to being a vegetarian by eating naturally produced and grown items means it’s just as easy to have a protein-packed diet without a piece of meat in sight.

Non-meat foods which contain protein

The list of non-meat foods which have fantastic levels of protein in are huge. The key is to vary your intake and try different items. Be creative with recipes and remember that snack times are perfect ways to add protein to your day as you graze. Here are some ideas for food items other than fruit and vegetables; each item listed gives the amount of protein per 1 ounce or as indicated.

Nuts and seeds

Pumpkin seeds; 5g

Roasted almonds; 6g

Peanuts without shells; 7g

Dairy

Cheddar cheese; 7g

Mozzarella; 7g

Egg, 1 whole; 6g

Yoghurt, low fat 250g; 14g

Quorn; the fantastic protein-packed product

Quorn is an alternative to meat which is packed with protein and is low in saturated fats. Made from a mycoprotein from a specific fungus, it becomes a delicious product which is incredibly versatile. Many people think of the sausages and mince when they hear Quorn but the range is now really wide and includes nuggets, goujons, slices, pies, curries and even mini savoury eggs. Every Quorn product can be used as part of a meal alongside vegetables or as a stand-alone snack or lunch item. There are now even vegan chunks you can buy to make great stir fries. One real plus to using Quorn is that all the family will love it, even picky children. Create family favourites such as lasagne, bolognaise or a curry such as this one with delicious chick peas and just add brown rice for a filling night time meal.