Alternatives to meat
Vegetarians can easily meet all of their nutritional needs by eating a variety of different foods each day. Plant-based foods are particularly important in achieving a balanced vegetarian diet. These foods help to ensure you receive adequate protein, iron and zinc, from sources other than meat.
The foods listed below are similar to meat, poultry, and fish in their contribution of nutrients, so make sure you’re getting enough of these each day.
Suitable alternatives to meat include:
- Peas, beans and lentils
- Soya-based foods, including tofu
- Seeds, nuts and nut butters (such as peanut butter)
- Eggs (if appropriate)
Peas, beans and lentils
Peas, beans and lentils, otherwise known as pulses, are essential in the vegetarian diet, because they contain a higher amount of protein than most other plant foods. They are rich in carbohydrate and fibre, and low in fat, and are also an important source of some of the B vitamins.
The Soya bean is a species of legume. It can provide an excellent source of protein in the vegetarian diet. Soya foods include tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and mycoprotein (Quorn).
The Vegetarian Society have provided detailed information on Soya-based foods, check out their site for further information.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts in general are very nutritious, providing a good source of protein, and they are packed full of essential vitamins, and minerals. Try to include a small handful of almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, hazel nuts or pine nuts, each day to increase the variety of your diet. Seeds, such as, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower also make a great snack, and can be sprinkled over salads, vegetables or stews.
How many portions are required from this group?
It is recommended that vegetarians include around 2-3 servings from this group each day.
What does a serving look like?
- 1 cup beans, peas, or lentils
- 2 eggs
- 8 oz. bean curd or tofu
- 1/2 cup shelled nuts
- 3-4 tbsp peanut butter
Take a look back at my original post to view the Vegetarian Pyramid in pictorial format.