A Vegetarian’s Guide to Protein

Pic for Blog- Protein for VegetariansAs a vegetarian for only a year now you’d think that being asked about my diet choice has yet to get repetitive. However, I am now used to being asked about why and how I’m a vegetarian, (sometimes more than once by the same people). When I’m asked why I’m a vegetarian I simply explain how it’s a step in the right direction to make my diet full of natural, plant-based food from the earth (and perhaps avoiding meat hanging at market stands while on a trip to Cambodia was a contributing factor as well). Whatever your reason is for being a vegetarian, you’ve probably been pitched the question, that is: “but…how do you get protein?” I’ve gotten this numerous times (even got put on the spot by my biology professor during a lecture…not an ideal situation). So if you are a vegetarian, thinking about being a vegetarian, or simply want to understand the diet of a vegetarian, here is how we do it:

Quinoa: This is the first answer I spit out when given the ol’ protein question, (except of course when I was called on in the middle of lecture and was too put on the spot to give an sufficient answer.) For those of you who do not know, quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a pseudo grain. The title “pseudo grain” is pretty misleading because technically it is a seed, so it’s also gluten free! This is an important staple to my diet because it’s one of the few plant proteins that have the 9 essential amino acids all by itself, without combining with complementary proteins. One cup of quinoa has 24 grams of protein!

  • Cook yourself a big batch in the beginning of the week and store the rest in a container to reheat throughout the week! Eat it with either veggies stirred in, avocado, eggs, or chick peas! You can also eat it like you would oatmeal, drizzle some honey on top, throw banana slices on top and sprinkle on some cinnamon!

Nuts and seeds: Almonds in particular offer the most protein compared to other tree nuts. As far as seeds go, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds offer a lot of protein as well! You can eat them alone as a snack or add them to your food! Aside from the fact that they are an easy source of protein, they are also good for our heart, support cognitive function and keeps our blood sugar in check.

Eggs: Eggs are still a part of most vegetarians’ diet. The exclusion of eggs falls under the category of Vegan rather than vegetarian. One egg has 6 grams of protein, so if you make yourself a 2 egg omelet with perhaps a side of veggies and quinoa, you’re off to a protein packed start of your day!

Soy beans: Another huge source of protein! One cup of soy beans contains 68 grams of protein, which is over the average person’s daily intake of protein. Soy beans also contain the 9 essential amino acids, so they are sufficient substitute to meat, which is why tofu is used instead of meat!

If you are a vegetarian yourself, I hope you learned something new about plant protein! If you are just curious about how vegetarians get by, I hope you learned that we don’t just live off of grilled cheese sandwiches. Even If you are a carnivore, add some of these proteins to your diet!  They are healthy and accessible!

“It’s a good day to have a good one!”

-Alena Purpero

Health & Fitness in India – experiencing it first-hand

India PhotoBy: Abbey Bowen

I spent a month of my summer in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India for an internship with a magazine called “Simply Jaipur.” I went toward the end of July and came back around the same time in August.

It was honestly the most meaningful, wonderful experience of my life. But that’s not why I’m writing this blog. I could write about my adventures all day long. What I really want to focus on is health and fitness in India.

Almost everything about Indian culture is different from that of America, and I noticed it was especially different when it comes to diet and exercise.

First of all, the diet is completely different. Many Indian people, especially those of the Hindu religion, are vegetarians. In fact, it’s actually really hard to find any meat in northern India, where I lived, besides the occasional chicken and mutton.

The Indian diet relies heavily on vegetables, bread and rice. I ate flat, tortilla-like bread called “chapatti” every single day. I would either dip it in a spicy sauce of some kind or vegetables that the cooks who worked at the house I was living in prepared.

I also had access to the yummiest fruit! I ate fresh mango, pomegranate, watermelon and papaya.

My diet was so healthy while I was living there that I lost over eight pounds without even trying!

I also got my exercise by taking a Bollywood dance class. Two girls around my age ran a yoga, meditation and dance studio out of their home, which was only a few blocks away from my house. I attended these classes when I could and had the time of my life. But oh, boy did I sweat! India is so hot to begin with, and jumping around for an hour doesn’t help.

Besides yoga and dance classes, I cannot say for certain what other Indian people do to keep in shape. I never even saw a gym. Honestly, I only saw two or three people the whole time I was there that would be considered “buff.” I guess the veggie-heavy diet and fresh fruit is enough to keep people within a healthy weight?

I wish I could’ve packed all the Indian food into my suitcase and lived off of it in America. It was so nice to eat food I knew wasn’t polluted with chemicals and that was SO DELICIOUS!

I hope to go back someday :]

~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~

Abbey :]