Protein for a vegetarian

It is when you start running that you realize the power of protein. Before I started running, I would vegetate in front of the computer and when ever I was really hungry, eat anything and everything vegetarian. It did not matter what it contained. I was not selective in what I ate. Then I started running. When you start running, the first thing you do is read articles on how a beginner should run. The other thing you probably want to do is to lose weight. So you start reading articles about the kind of food you should eat.

I realized as a runner is that I should eat proteins. In fact a runner should apparently eat twice the amount of protein a regular person should. And I decide ok, let me drink one more glass of milk. That should get me my fill of proteins. Mom always used to tell milk has lots of proteins. After a while, I used some of the online calculators to see how much protein I am getting. Oops – I was not even getting enough protein for a sedentary person let alone a runner.

After about a million articles on eating, reality strikes. Vegetarians actually have very little sources of protein. Milk and milk products, some legumes/lentils, some varieties of beans and tofu. So I needed to increase the consumption of these. Apparently the thought process of the meat eater is different. They look for sources of protein – cow gives milk which has a lot of protein. Let me eat the cow instead and maybe I will get more proteins. Aesop and his golden egg laying hen/duck be damned. (If you have not read the story, apparently a farmer in a bid to get rich quicker decided to cut open his golden egg laying hen and got screwed) We vegetarians stupidly believed him and hence our protein conundrum.

So eating has come down to this – have a glass of milk or yogurt at every meal. Have as much tofu as possible. Etc etc. And you know what – I still dont get enough proteins. But at least I am better off than before. One day I proudly told my cousin that I had consumed 5 glasses of milk by 6 PM and he concluded that I had either become a snake (in Indian movies they always drink milk – obviously someone needs to investigate snakes and running) or a cat. Aahh – the tough life we vegetarians lead.

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