More and more people come to our nutrition consultation in Barcelona in search of a balanced vegetarian diet . Many of them are vegetarians who want to regulate their diet, and on other occasions, they are people who want to start with a diet based on plant foods and do not know how to do it correctly.
In 2003, as a result of this growing interest in vegetarianism and ensuring responsible meat consumption, the global movement Meatless Monday or was created Meatless Monday . In recent months this initiative has gone viral on social networks, becoming a trend on the first day of each week.
One of the main doubts or concerns that we observe lies in how to meet the necessary proteins in our diet. That is why I want to talk to you about 5 sources of protein of plant origin that you should take into account if you are vegetarian or if you just want to participate in the next meatless Monday
Like other products like tempeh, tofu is derived from soybeans. This food is actually a legume with a high protein value and is commonly used as a substitute for meat in dishes such as hamburgers. If we buy tofu-based processed foods such as hamburgers or sausages, we will actually be making a low protein intake and high in fat and carbohydrates. For that reason, I recommend buying tofu without further ado and making recipes with it at home. There are 3 types of tofu depending on the amount of water it includes. In this way, we can find in the market:
- Soft tofu: With a greater amount of water, it is usually used in the preparation of quiche or creams.
- Tofu: Much of the water has been removed, thus gaining consistency. It is common to find it in salads and soups.
- Extra hard tofu: It is the densest of all and is often used in fried and sautéed.
Quinoa is a pseudocereal, although it is prepared as if it were a cereal. A few years ago it was a great unknown but little by little it has established itself in our pantries thanks to its high nutritional contribution. In 2013, the FAO classified quinoa as the food of the year and we can find it in many articles as one of the “superfoods” in fashion. Unlike other protein foods, it is rich in fiber, favoring the microbiota and intestinal transit.
Seitan is a product made from wheat flour, therefore, people with celiac disease should avoid it. Because of its texture and uses it is known as “vegetable meat”. It is an easy food to consume for those people who have recently abandoned meat to start a vegetarian diet. The disadvantage of seitan is that since it comes from only one type of cereal, it does not contain all the amino acids for a complete protein, that is, it has a worse protein quality than quinoa or tofu.
It is another pseudocereal similar to quinoa from Latin America. It contains lysine, an amino acid that is usually present in low amounts in the proteins of cereals and higher in those of animals. Its fat content is higher than that of other cereals. It stands out for containing oleic acid and linoleic acid, fats with a heart-healthy action. It also contains a large amount of starch. In different studies its effect has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.
Quality protein combinations
One of the simplest and richest ways to obtain a vegetable protein of high biological value is by mixing different types of plant foods that provide different amino acids. The recommended combinations are as follows:
- Cereals + legumes. For example lentils with rice.
- Legumes + seeds. For example hummus (chickpeas with sesame seeds).
- Cereals + nuts. For example pasta salad with walnuts.
As you can see, there are many possible alternatives to include protein in a vegetarian diet. Whether you are vegetarian or not, I recommend you try new dishes and create different recipes to make the most of your diet.
And you, what vegetable proteins do you include in your meatless Monday?