Getting a good source of protein by not eating meat can be challenging unless you know about the abundance of healthy foods that will deliver that needed protein. When eating vegan or eating a meatless protein meal, it is crucial to get enough amino acids through your proteins. These are the components that build healthy muscles, tissue, and keep your immune system working properly.
Benefits of a Meatless Diet
Many people choose to not eat meat because they love animals or want to protect life on our planet. However, there are many health benefits of going meatless. Some of these benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure by 1/2 to 3/4
- Lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes by 2/3
- Lowering the risk of cancer by 15 to 20%
- Reducing your cholesterol levels
- Increasing energy levels
- Losing weight
- Clearing up skin problems
More people are choosing to eat a plant-based or vegan diet as this type of dietary change can not only improve your health, but it contributes to the protection of animals and reduces your individual impact on climate change.
Focus on Protein
When you take animal products out of your diet, people tend to increase low-protein foods such as fruits, vegetables, and salads. The problem with eating only this type of meal is that the lack of protein will leave you feeling hungry quickly, tired, and craving animal products.
You may see results in lowering your weight and cholesterol short term, but not getting enough protein over a long period of time will have consequences.
Food cravings can increase.
Protein helps regulate your blood sugar. It also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates. Those who eat protein feel full longer and have fewer cravings.
Your metabolism can slow down.
Not getting enough protein can lead to loss of muscle mass which results in a slower metabolism. Resting energy will also decrease.
You may lose focus.
Concentration and focus will be low if you skip out on your protein. Proteins are what make up the enzymes and hormones that allow your brain to function properly. Getting enough protein will allow you to get an amino acid called tyrosine that keeps your brain focused and your body energized.
Injuries and wounds won’t heal as quickly.
Tissue repair and growth are facilitated by protein, micronutrients, and vitamins. Protein is especially important in oxygen levels and blood flow that repairs and heals the skin. If you have a diet that is low in protein, your body will not be able to recover as quickly from wounds and injuries.
You might become anemic.
When your blood does not contain enough red blood cells to transport oxygen through the body, that’s when you develop anemia. The type of protein you get is important as it has to be rich in iron, B12, and folate. Not all types of proteins have these components so you need to make sure you are eating the foods that have the well-balanced proteins.
Other signs you’re not getting enough protein.
Lack of protein can decrease albumin, which is a protein in your blood that helps you maintain your fluid balance. You might start to see fluid retention in your extremities. Also, when you don’t get enough protein your body starts to shut down the non-essential body parts such as nails, hair, and skin.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The dietary recommendations for each person can vary. According to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), it suggests per body pound the average person should eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. There are many different opinions on how much protein a person needs but here are the common guidelines.
- The average man – 56 grams daily.
- The average woman – 46 grams daily.
Known as the body’s building blocks, proteins are essential to not only build muscles and tendons, but they also build organs, skin, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and produce molecules that have many important functions in the body.
Non-Meat Sources of Protein
There are many options for enjoying great sources of protein-rich non-meat meals. The choices range from seeds and nuts to grains and legumes. These sources of good proteins are less expensive than meat and are packed with fiber.
Finding recipes for cooking these delicious choices is fairly easy. There are many helpful websites and blogs that will provide recipes and suggestions for tasty preparations. You can even get help with meal planning. Professionals on the site https://www.freshmealplan.com/vegan-plan can provide you with tips and guidelines. These meal planning websites can make meal planning in advance easy and it also helps with shopping for good ingredients and planning out your diet.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of non-meat protein sources.
- Lentils – come in red, brown, green, yellow, and black and are protein-packed
- Peas – used as an ingredient in protein powders and are a powerful source of protein
- Soybeans – contain tons of protein and are extremely high in amino acids
- Edamame – young soybeans, delicious and protein-packed
- Seitan – “wheat meat” made from gluten and resembles chicken or beef
- Bulgur wheat – made from the berries or wheat kernels
- Freekeh – made from non-mature durum wheat
- Barley – famous for making beer
- Oats – also high in probiotics
- Rice – remember to try all the different colors
- Amaranth – protein-rich grain coming from Peru
- Quinoa – superfood of the goosefoot plant found in the Andes Mountains
- Flaxseeds – extremely high in fiber, protein, and omega-3s
- Chia seeds – packed with nutrition and great in smoothies and puddings
- Pumpkin seeds – delicious and nutritious and filled with magnesium
- Hemp hearts – one serving has 10 grams of protein
- Nuts – a great source of many nutrients and make a great snack
Protein is an essential building block in the human body. In order to keep our bodies healthy, it is essential that we get enough good sources of protein and amino acids. Not all proteins are made the same so if you are eating a diet that excludes meat, you need to monitor your protein intake.
Not getting enough protein can result in a lack of concentration, a poor immune system, fatigue, swelling, and unhealthy hair, skin, and nails. With so many excellent sources of non-meat proteins and resources to prepare meals, it is easier than ever to fill your diet with great proteins.