How to become vegetarian. Tips for vegetarians. Vegetarian protein. Common vegetarian nutrient deficiencies. Below are many things every vegetarian should know:
Giving up meat doesn’t have to be done drastically. You can wean yourself off meat gradually, by reducing the amount of meat you consume and gradually introducing more plant protein sources. Reduce the ground beef in Chili Con Carne, for example, and use more kidney beans. Or, replace some of the meat in your burger patty with tofu.
Vegetable Sources of Protein
To help you avoid having boring beans every day and to ensure that you are consuming all the different essential amino acids, you’ll need to be familiar with a variety of vegetable sources of protein:
Buckwheat: 1 cup=6 grams protein
Chia Seeds: 2 Tablespoons=4 grams protein
Hempseed: 2 Tablespoons=10 grams protein
Quinoa: 1 cup=8 grams protein
Quorn: 1/2 cup=13 grams protein
Soybeans: 1/2 cup=10 grams protein
Unless you’re making soup, steam your vegetables in order to preserve the nutrients. It’s okay to have variety in the way you cook vegetables. What’s important is that you enjoy eating them!
Calcium Doesn’t Just Come From Milk
There are many non-dairy sources of calcium which are well-absorbed by the body. Green leafy vegetables are the best sources, like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and parsely. Oranges and almonds are tasty sources of calcium too.
Although fruit juices are made from nutrient-rich fruit, smoothies are the better choice because of their fiber content. Making smoothies is a fun way to combine different ingredients containing protein, vitamins, and other nutrients to get delicious and refreshing results.
Soy and tofu are the staples of vegetarian protein. Seeds and nuts are decent vegetarian protein sources too. If you’ll eat dairy, better protein sources are whey, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Regardless of where it comes from, eating enough dietary protein will keep your energy level up and keep your muscles from wasting away.
Common Vegetarian Nutrition Deficiencies
Cutting meat from your diet can make you vulnerable to deficiencies in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It pays to keep a log of your meals in order to track which nutrient you may lack. A useful app called Wholesome can help you evaluate you nutrient intake and recommend foods you need to eat.
Double Your Iron Intake
Unfortunately, iron from plant sources is not as well-absorbed by the body as iron from meat sources. On the other hand, favorite vegetarian ingredients are typically rich in iron. With a vegetarian diet, you’ll have to consume more food containing iron to prevent deficiency. Good sources are kale, spinach, beans, lentils, soy, quinoa, oatmeal, and tomato sauce. It is also useful to note that vitamin C helps in the body’s absorption of iron. Beans in tomato sauce, or oatmeal with fruit are nice ways to combine iron and vitamin C.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Tara Ostrowe, a dietician, has come up with a helpful way to determine how much protein you need to consume per day, depending on your exercise habits:
Sedentary: 0.8-1.0 gram protein per kilogram of body weight
Moderately active: 1.2-1.4 grams protein per kilogram of body weight
Athletic: 1.6-2.2 grams protein per kilogram of body weight
So a person who exercises heavily and weighs 150 pounds (68 kilograms) would need to consume 109-150 grams of protein per day.
How To Become Vegetarian
If you’d like a good walkthrough of how to shift your diet to a vegetarian diet, pick up Mary Donovan’s Becoming Vegetarian book. It’s loaded with great advice and a ton of vegetarian recipes too!