Because research has shown that a vegetarian or vegan diet may have health benefits for people living with cancer, some survivors decide to embrace a meat-free lifestyle. If you or a loved one has made this decision–because of a cancer diagnosis or for other health or ethical reasons–you may be wondering how to get enough protein.
When vegetarian and vegan diets started becoming popular, there was widespread concern that people excluding meat from their diet would lack protein and other important nutrients. Pairing complementary proteins–the idea that you need to eat beans with rice, for instance, in order to form a complete protein that meets your body’s needs–was seen as a solution, and many still follow this advice.
But do vegetarians really need to eat specific combinations of food in order to get enough protein?
The simple answer: no. As long as you eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods, you don’t need to worry about pairing certain foods together. Your body does a good job of holding onto nutrients you get from one type of food and combining them with nutrients from other foods, as needed. Continue reading