National Vegetarian Week 10-16 May 2021

How to be veggie and still get lots of protein

– Leading nutritionist shares strategies & delicious protein packed recipe

As National Vegetarian Week returns this May, it’s time to celebrate all things veggie.

With more of us than ever introducing meat-free Monday’s and looking at ways to consume less meat in general, long gone are the days when being a vegetarian meant limited menu choices, with so much variety to choose from.

According to leading nutritionist, Lily Soutter, how to be veggie and still get lots of protein is one of the main questions she is consistently asked. And, in a new YouGov survey commissioned by Goodlife, protein was highlighted as one of the most important factors for Brits when it comes to their daily diet.

Goodlife’s ‘Home Cooking & Eating Habits & Attitudes report 2021’ was conducted on over 2,000 GB adults and found that 56% of those that eat a vegetarian meal every day said protein was an important factor in their daily diet, compared to 44% of all GB adults.

Many brands have jumped on the protein bandwagon in recent years, with everything from shakes, to bars and powders. Providing all the answers to her most asked questions around protein, nutritionist Lily shares smart eating strategies plus a delicious protein-packed recipe idea, proving just how simple it can be to reach your daily requirements as a veggie…

Why do we need protein?
Protein is an essential dietary component as it is the building blocks of the body. It is vital for healthy muscles, organs and even hair, skin, and nails. It is also essential for our immune system, as well as manufacturing hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

Is it possible for a veggie to get sufficient protein in a single day?
As long as a varied and balanced diet is enjoyed and calorie intakes are being met, it shouldn’t be difficult to reach the daily recommendations for protein. In fact, all dairy products, eggs, soy products, beans, pulses, grains, nuts, and seeds contain protein! With so many delicious protein-rich plant-based foods on the market, it’s easy to reach our targets. For example, just one portion of GoodLife’s Vegetable Protein Balls with Kale and Spinach provides a huge 15.2g of veggie protein.

How much protein do we need per day?
In the UK, adults are advised to consume 0.75g of protein per day for each kilogram that they weigh – this equates to around 45g per day for the average female. However, those leading a more active lifestyle may need to consume up to 1g per kg body weight or as much as 1.2-1.8g for the very active.

Should we take into account complete/incomplete protein when choosing our protein sources?
Each protein molecule is made up of a number of essential amino acids, and protein from animal sources contain this full range of amino acids. However, protein from most plant-based sources (excluding soybeans and soy products) either do not contain all essential amino acids or provide them in varying amounts. But fear not, if two foods which contain plant-based protein are eaten in combination, you are more likely to receive a sufficient range of amino acids to create a complete protein. For example, GoodLife’s Vegetable Protein Balls include chickpeas and pea protein, thereby providing a greater range of amino acids. All this means is that enjoying a varied range of plant-based protein sources throughout the day will ensure you receive a diverse range of amino acids for optimal wellbeing.

What is the best time to eat protein on a veggie diet?
Protein consumption is best spread throughout the day. Little and often is key! Per meal, our body utilises a maximum of 0.25-0.4g protein per kg of bodyweight for maintaining muscle mass. Surplus protein can be broken down by the body and used as an energy source, alternatively, unused protein is excreted or even stored as fat. This means that on average 20-40g protein per 3-hour period is optimal for muscle growth and repair. Furthermore, protein helps us to keep us full therefore including a portion of protein at each meal can help us to feel satiated and satisfied all day long.

What’s the biggest mistake veggies make?
Many following a vegetarian diet over-compensate with dairy to obtain sufficient protein, however, there is a vast range of amazing plant-based protein sources to enjoy. Beans are a good source of protein, and just one GoodLife Spicy Veg Bean burger comes with as much as 6.3g protein and is super high in fibre.

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All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2121 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 9th February 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).