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High Protein Vegetarian Lifestyle?

Copyright (c) 2008 Ainsley LaingForty years ago, when I was a kid (and a vegetarian newbie), vegetarianism was not common. The statement "I am a vegetarian" was met with a simple "Oh". Then came the 1...

Copyright (c) 2008 Ainsley Laing

Forty years ago, when I was a kid (and a vegetarian newbie), vegetarianism was not common. The statement "I am a vegetarian" was met with a simple "Oh". Then came the 1980s when it became fashionable to be vegetarian for health reasons. With this fashion came confusion...

If you are a long term vegetarian like me, you will no doubt have been asked "do you eat chicken and fish?" Answer: polite yet emphatic "No, I am a vegetarian". This question is usually followed by "how do you get enough protein?" Answer: polite yet emphatic "Easy!"

For those that are confused, here's a brief description of the types of vegetarianism. Basically, there are those who either eat dairy (lacto vegetarian), eggs (ovo vegetarian) or both (ovo-lacto vegetarian). Vegans are vegetarians that consume no animal products at all. Among us vegetarians, if we say we are vegetarian it is taken to mean we eat dairy and or eggs. Vegans usually use the word vegan, which sounds to me like terminology invented by the producers of the original Star Trek episodes ?. A feeble attempt at humor, I know.

This article is about vegetarian and vegan eating, either as a lifestyle or the occasional meal. This article is about eating for muscle development. Is it possible to do both? Yes it is... with simple foods and a bit of knowledge about the composition of proteins.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. To build or maintain muscle (and most other body functions), the human body requires some amino acids that it must take from food. These are called the Essential Amino Acids. There are other amino acids that the body manufactures on its own ' called Non-essential Amino Acids. However, it requires the essential ones to manufacture the non-essential ones.

A protein is referred to as "complete" or "useable" when it contains all of the essential amino acids. Animal protein is complete. Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds all contain protein, but they usually are not complete and therefore need to be "complemented" with foods that have the missing amino acids. The exception to this is soybeans. The protein in soybeans is complete and needs no complement.

In a nutshell: for vegetarians, getting enough protein is simple as eggs, dairy products and soybean products (except soy sauce) are good sources of high quality "useable" protein. For vegans, dried beans and soy are the main source of protein. Dried beans need to be complemented with nuts, grains, corn, eggs, dairy or soy (except eggs and dairy for vegans). For Non-vegetarians, a small amount of meatScience Articles, fish or chicken in a meal will also complete the protein in beans or nuts for an extra protein punch that's also packed with phytochemicals and anti-oxidants!

Live long and prosper.

Article Tags: Amino Acids

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About the Author: Ainsley Laing, MSc. has been a Fitness Trainer for 25 years and writes exclusively Body for Mind eZine. She holds certifications in Group Exercise, Sports Nutrition and Personal Fitness Training. She is also a professional engineer and mom. To see more articles by Ainsley visit or the blog at

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