The Best Source of Meatless Proteins
Calling all vegetarians and vegans! You need to take care of yourself, and make up for the lack of meat in your diet. Finding a range of substitutes for meat can be an arduous task without even asking yourself if you are getting enough protein. This article can help you become aware of the variety of meat substitutes, give you healthy ideas and provide you with tools for eating healthy on a meatless diet.
Mixed Grains & Legumes
Mixing grains and legumes creates a complete, i.e. ideal protein.
Try mixing rice and lentils, chickpeas and bulgur, quinoa and black beans. Of course, feel free to throw in some roasted veggies or greens to add variety.
Delve into the traditional Arab dish Mujaddara for inspiration. This consists of rice/bulgur and lentils with spices and sometimes yogurt.
It is probably the best known and most popular meat substitute. However, it isn’t a natural or complete protein, so team it up with other protein sources. Marinade it, grill it, blend it with almonds to make ‘cheese’. Remember to add seasoning, as tofu is unflavored.
- Soya Chunks
If you’re craving a meaty texture, this protein is the one for you! It is high in protein although industrialized, so can contain added preservatives and salt. Like tofu, it needs seasoning to make it tasty.
This mock meat is usually found in Asian cuisine, and is often used as a replacement for duck due to its realistic ‘meaty’ texture. Seitan contains gluten and is therefore not suitable for celiacs. Like Soya Chunks, it is a manufactured product which contains added salt and preservatives.
While vegetables contain high levels of protein (particularly broccoli, sprouts, green peas and mushrooms), it is not possible to rely on them as a primary source of protein. For instance, 300g of cooked broccoli contains 9g of protein while 100g of chicken contains 25-30g of protein. Combine your veggies with another protein-rich source...stir-fry is a great choice.
- Eat protein throughout the day.
It is highly unlikely that you will consume your daily allowance in one meal. Spread out your protein intake throughout the day to give you a higher chance of ingesting the necessary amount.
- Eat a wide variety of quality protein.
Scientifically speaking, you should be aiming to eat proteins with a high biological value. This basically means proteins that include all of the amino acids that are essential for us to keep healthy. Natural meat and eggs have the highest biological values of any protein, so veggies and vegans need to find other options.
- Plan your meals.
Sticking to a vegan or vegetarian diet can be challenging, so find tools to help you. I recommend Kitchenbug: a useful online recipe platform which allows you to search for recipes on its database according to dietary requirements such as ‘vegan’ or ‘high protein’ or even both, just by placing a comma in the middle: 'vegan, high-protein'. It also instantly analyzes the nutritional value of any recipe you find online, and can help you to discover which proteins will benefit you. Use it to build up your own collection of recipes, organizing them in your personal boxes, to aid meal planning and ensure you never run out of inspiration.
By Ilanit Fananes
About the author: Ilanit Fananes is a Registered Dietician who works at Kitchenbug as well as runs her own private practice. In her free time, she likes to play basketball. She tells her clients to toss the scale and use their clothes as the best measure of success!