Can We Get Protein in Our Diets without Eating More Meat?
Vegetarians and vegans used to comprise only a small part of the world’s population. But due to environmental concerns as well as the growing trend in healthy living, more and more people are switching to vegetarian and vegan diets. The biggest concern about this type of diet, however, is protein intake.As we all know, meat is a primary source of protein. So are other animal products such as eggs, milk and cheese. And protein is an essential building block of life, responsible for promoting the growth, renewal and repair of cells. Deficiency in this nutrient can result in hair loss, muscle weakness, fatigue and other ailments.
The problem with meat and other animal-derived food products is that they are also high in fat and cholesterol, which can also put you at risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. So how can we resolve these issues and maintain optimal health? The answer lies in non-meat protein sources, which vegans and vegetarians should definitely include in their daily diets. Here are some of those to consider:
Nuts come in many types—peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts and pistachios. All these are excellent source of protein. An ounce of nuts contains about six grams of protein and only 160 calories. You can also get your protein supply from nut butter, which has four grams per tablespoon.
Like nuts, beans also have different varieties. Garbanzo beans and kidney beans are particularly high in protein. A cup of kidney beans gives you a whopping 13 grams of protein. That’s almost the same protein amount that you get from eating one big hamburger. Of course, the taste may not be the same but at least you will not gain extra weight; and beans are rich in nutrients, unlike burgers which are pure poison.
As it turns out, snacking on seeds liker sunflower, pumpkin and squash turns out to be beneficial for the health. If you consume a hundred gram serving of any of these seeds, you’re getting up to 30 grams of protein. Apart from protein, these seeds are also rich in heart-healthy fats.
Vegetarians should also check out foods that belong to the legume family like green peas. Did you know that a cup of green peas has almost eight grams of protein? That’s almost the same amount that you get from a glass of milk. If you’re not fond of the taste of green peas, you can put them in a food processor and turn them into pesto sauce for your pasta. Just add in olive oil, walnuts, and fresh mint, and that’s it!
Another staple in the vegetarian diet is soy. Soy can be made into veggie burgers, tofu, soy milk and tempeh, all of which are packed with lots of protein and healthy goodness. A half cup of tofu gives you 20 grams of protein while a half cup of soy beans has 14 grams. And soy is not only highly nutritious, it’s also tasty. Many people love its flavor and texture. It’s an excellent alternative to meat.
Are you surprised to see the words “non-dairy” and “milk” in one sentence? For those who do not know, cows are not the only source of milk. Soy, almond, hemp, and rice can also be turned into milk. A serving of eight ounces of soy milk boasts of eight grams of protein. Other milk types contain one gram of protein per cup of serving. Non-dairy milk is excellent in the morning because it has all the nutrients and vitamins necessary to keep use energized for a whole day. Add berries and bananas to your soy milk; put the mix in a blender and enjoy.
With all these non-meat sources of protein, people who are thinking of going vegetarian should no longer be worried about protein deficiency. These foods are not only packed with nutrients but are also delicious and widely available. Another great way of supplementing your diet with proteins without eating meat is to consider supplementation. BCAA tablets for example, are commonly used by bodybuilders to build muscle and they’re an excellent source of protein without any meat.