Should I add more protein in place of meat now that I am a vegetarian?
I am feeding my husband tuna salad pitas today, but I am going to eat pitas with red bell pepper, cucumber, grated carrot, mayo, and mustard.
So where do I place the protein component? Adding a slice of cheese, eating an egg or two later in the day?
If I used to eat 6 oz of meat a day, and also ate a moderate amount of dairy and eggs. Would I be getting enough protein if I just kept the same amount of dairy and eggs in my diet? Or would I need to add more protein now?
I plan to use peanut butter, beans, and seitan in my diet as well.
I would strongly suggest you find a protein shake or supplement to add to your diet as well. Get a blender and add some fruit to it when you drink it to turn it into a protein smoothie. Taste great and adds plenty of protein to your diet.
You could sautee some mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil and add them to your pita. Or, you could maranate some beans (red, white, black, whatever you might have on hand) in a little balsamic vinegar and sugar overnight and use those. When eggs or cheese don't go with whatever it is I've made (but, honestly, when does cheese not?) beans or mushrooms are my go-to protein.
All that said, so long as you are getting the appropriate amount of protein for your age, weight, level of activity during the day, it doesn't much matter if you get it with every meal you eat during the day. If the pita you described above will fill you up for lunch, skip adding other protein, so long as you are getting it other ways.
Also, the reason meat is so popular as a source of protein is because it is a complete protein. Veggies and grains are incomplete proteins, but when combined properly, they become complete. A good rule of thumb is a dark, leafy green with a whole grain and beans or mushrooms make up a complete protein, and can be combined in many different combinations so you don't get bored.
As long as you are eating a good variety of foods, you should be fine. If you have peanut butter, beans and seitan as part of your diet, I wouldn't worry too much. Lots of veggies have some amount of protein. You don't need to emphasize protein at every meal or eat complimentary proteins at every meal. Most folks that eat meat with most or every meal are getting more protein than they need.
I've been vegetarian for 25+ years and am mostly vegan these days.
Track your food in an online food diary, such as myfitnessplus.com. It will show you if you are meeting the required amount. Likely you are.
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