When I started working with Green Farm one of the things we discussed was including enough protein in the meals, particularly in vegetarian and vegan meals. Many people are opting for plant based diets these days and as a nutritional therapist Help Me Healthy is trying to support people to eat well with whatever course they choose.
Whatever your choice it is imperative you eat enough protein.
Protein is an essential macronutrient for growth and repair of the body and muscles. We get protein in our diets from amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are 8 amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, so we must consume these through food.
Where does it come from?
It comes from meat, fish and dairy, yes and in a plant based diet it comes from legumes, soy, nuts and seeds, and of course from vegetables in smaller amounts.
Vegetarian foods that are from animals (cheese, milk and eggs) contain a good balance of essential amino acids but we cannot rely solely on these to replace meat and fish as it may lead to excess consumption of saturated fats and an iron deficiency. However, some other vegetarian food groups have imbalances of amino acids, so it is important to eat a range of vegetarian sources of protein throughout the day.
However a word of warning about cheese and milk, go for those from grass fed sources so you get the healthy fats in your diet. Some organic milk is from grass fed cows, Yeo Valley certainly is.
It is therefore necessary to supplement when going vegan as there are vitamins that you are likely to become deficient in over time. Mainly Vitamin B12 and iron.
How much do we need?
We need to eat in the region of 1g per kg body weight.
Here’s a list you can checkout to see if you’re getting enough.