I have intentionally shied away from directly addressing this topic because I (a) don't want to attract the trolls, and (b) don't really have it all figured out. But Becky asked in her comment the other day and I figure maybe I should do a post about it.
First, getting some chips off my shoulder, it really pisses me off when someone IRL, a meat eater, asks me about my diet, because it's always in a way that insinuates that it must be inadequate for growing a baby. To them I say, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Anyone that has been a vegetarian for very long knows that most people think you need more protein than you actually do. This is a hard concept for people used to eating a meat main dish at 2+ meals per day.
I would also say to these people that in at least one way I think my diet is superior (than the average meat eater) because I think about intake of protein all day long. Meaning that hopefully my baby is getting what it needs throughout the day instead of a big portion at dinner.
I also believe that plant protein is really important in any diet and that as a vegetarian I probably do a much better job of incorporating it than most meat eaters do.
And I'd say it's working. My baby consistently measures ahead (usually by 2 weeks) and mostly in the legs. I have read that measuring shorter in the legs can be a sign of poor nutrition and that definitely isn't happening here.
For those that have been reading for a while, you probably recall that I discussed this topic with my nutritional counselor and she wasn't concerned one bit. Her reasoning was that I have been doing this for a long time (since I was 8) and I'm tall and (mostly) healthy. If I hadn't been eating an adequate diet, I probably would be shorter and possibly show other signs of malnutrition.
And on the tall thing, I am about 2" taller than my mother and nearly as tall as my father. My brothers are both taller than me (as expected) but I am about 4" taller than my meat eating half-sister. (Since she is my half sister obviously the genetics are a bit different, but my half brother, her full brother, is the tallest of us kids and is ~6'4" so it's not like they are both shorter).
I also have to acknowledge that dairy has been my friend during this pregnancy. Dairy is a really easy way for me to get complete protein and calcium and I eat a lot of it. I would have to completely rethink my diet without it.
So I don't have a magic number of grams of protein I shoot for everyday. Mostly I try to just make sure I get a certain amount with each meal and have several good snacks. I know if I'm going to be light on the protein for lunch that I should plan better for dinner or vice versa or an extra snack.
On the dairy thing, it's handy to remember that a single cup of milk has 8g of protein. If I'm feeling like I didn't do so well one day an extra glass of milk or two can really add on.
For breakfast I have switched to the dreaded microwave oatmeal! Yes, my dirty little secret. I found I couldn't eat as much oatmeal as I cooked on the stove and switched to the bags. I eat the Quaker Weight Control oatmeal which has 7g of protein. Mix that with nearly a cup of milk and some flax and I'm at ~15g.
Every day I have a snacks of cheese, nuts, and/or fruit. The cheese and nuts obviously help add in some protein.
For lunch I like to make a sandwich, normally with hummus and some cheese slices and veggies. I usually bring veggies for a side too and dip in extra hummus. And the (whole wheat) sandwich bread has some protein too. I probably average ~20g of protein for lunch.
Dinner could be anything as long as I feel that I'm getting sufficient protein. If we eat pasta, I use the Barilla Plus because it's got a lot of protein. We eat a lot of beans which provide decent protein. Vegetarian chili is a favorite this time of year. I got this cookbook and I really like it. The recipes are easy and good and have definitely helped us incorporate some new meals.
Then I have a big glass of milk to swallow my pills every night and stir in a packet of Carnation Breakfast Essential (no sugar added) chocolate flavoring which adds an extra 5g of protein to the milk.
I don't eat tofu. I'm not against tofu, but I'm not a big fan either and all the recipes I like are loaded with sodium (I'm already a little puffy, I don't need more) and the phytoestrogens freak me out a little. I am a former avid consumer of soy products and will probably go back after pregnancy, but I avoided soy during my follicular phase while TTC and just felt like I don't need it in my diet the way things are. I think the occasional soy is fine, but I try to keep it to a minimum and prefer minimally processed forms. I can't really explain myself fully on the topic and I don't necessarily think there is anything thing wrong with it, but it's just something I keep to a minimum right now.
I figure on an average day I'm getting around 80g of protein, and on some days I'm probably closer to 100g.
I discussed this topic with my new OB and she had my urine checked for protein. If you are defiecient in protein your body will start metabolizing itself, and I guess the kidneys are a preferred source of protein and it would show up in my urine if that was the case (this happens with preeclampsia too). I've not had an issue so I guess there is some more proof that things are going alright.
But I continue to be diligent.
If their are any vegetarians (or vegans) reading this that have tricks for getting more protein into their diets please leave a comment, I'd love to hear them.