While it is true that meat has the highest concentration in protein, is it necessary to get your daily requirements? According to the CDC, the average adult female needs 46 grams/day and the average adult male needs 56 grams/day. (Check out other age groups here: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html)
First the question must be asked: Why is protein so important, anyway? According to the CDC, “Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies” So basically, our body needs it to function, not just our muscles but every cell in our body. I would say it is important!
Now let’s see if non-meat protein alone is enough. Here is a typical vegetarian day for me: (The protein for each individual ingredient is in parenthesis.)
Breakfast -20 grams protein
2 Eggs (12g), 1 cup Skim Milk(8g), 1 medium banana(1g)
Lunch – 14 grams protein
2 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread (4g) w/ 2 TBSP Creamy Peanut Butter (9g) & 1 Tbsp Honey (0g), 1 apple (0g), 1 medium carrot (1g)
Dinner – 9.5g
Easy Vegetarian Pasta: 2 oz Whole Wheat Spaghetti (7g), 1/4 c diced tomatoes (.5g), 1/3c peas (2g), 1/6 onion (0g), Garlic (0g), Vegetable Broth (0g), and Olive Oil (0g)
Night Snack – 10g
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (10g), 2 tsp ground cinnamon (0g)
Total Protein – 53.5 grams of protein
I know, I know – a late night snack? I can’t help it! We eat at 5pm to get the kids to bed by 7, so by 8:30 I am usually ready for a little something before turning in at 10. I have found Greek yogurt with cinnamon to be the perfect bedtime snack, sweet, tangy, and not too heavy.
Now back to the protein. At 53.5 grams, this day is over the CDC recommendations. Notice how great eggs are for protein? They make a great dinner scrambled with diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta. And the whole grain!! Who knew it packed a protein punch?
While eating vegetarian is great, sometimes you just need some meat! Stay tuned for a healthy, budget-friendly meaty meal.