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Why do vegetarians need more protein?

Vegetarians have higher protein requirements because plant proteins are not as well digested and processed by the body as animal proteins, and are not as 'complete' as protein from meat. So how much more is required?

It's recommended that vegetarians eat 10% more protein than meat-eaters, and because vegans don't eat eggs, milk or dairy products, they may need even more.

Well-planned vegetarian eating patterns can offer a number of nutritional benefits over traditional meat-containing diets. These include lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and phytochemicals.

If you're a vegetarian try to include soy, eggs and dairy products in your diet and you'll find it easier to get the protein you need.

For vegans, however, eating a variety of protein-containing foods daily (such as vegetables with nuts, rice with beans, or beans with corn) is essential to ensure an adequate protein intake.

Inadequately-planned vegan and vegetarian diets may be low in vitamin B12, iron, calcium and zinc, as these nutrients are generally found in higher amounts in animal foods.

Date modified: April 3 2017
First published: Oct 2006

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