Simple Tips For The New Vegan
Despite the concerns many people have about vegan living being complicated and foreign, its actually a lot more simple and familiar than most would think.
Even if youre used to relying on certain ingredients such as meat, cheese and eggs, theres no reason that leaving animal products behind should be a big deal.
Here are a few super-simple tips to help you navigate your way around a vegan kitchen:
Get The Protein You Need
Not only are there plenty of ways to get protein without meat for vegetarians, but vegetarian options are usually healthier for you too. There are plenty of non-meat complete proteins, and you can create a variety of healthy, protein-rich dishes using vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
So if you are a vegetarian, there is no reason why you shouldnt be getting your daily required amount of protein. If youre a meat-eater, you may also want to think about switching out a few steaks for a quinoa salad or veggie-loaded chili. Youll still get all the protein you need, and who knowsyou might like these meals so much that you become a vegetarian!
What The Experts Say About Plant
Before we move onto good vegan and vegetarian protein sources for getting this amount, lets take a look at what some well-known and credentialed vegans say about protein.
- In the documentary Forks Over Knives, China Study author Dr. T. Colin Campbell says that you need 8 to 10 percent of your calories to come from protein.
- Vegan Ironman Brendan Brazier, in his appearance on No Meat Athlete radio, says he eats about 15 percent protein when training for short events, and close to 20 percent protein during periods of heavy training for long endurance events.
- Tim Ferriss writes in The 4-Hour Body that ultrarunner Scott Jurek gets 15 to 20 percent of his calories from protein.
- Matt Ruscigno, in the post he wrote for No Meat Athlete about protein for vegetarians, says he recommends that his athlete clients get 10 to 15 percent of their calories from protein.
Notice that everybody expresses things in percentage protein instead of grams, in order to more easily account for different body masses.
How does our 83 grams of protein, for a 140-pound female endurance athlete stack up in terms of percentage of total calories?
Well, the first thing to note is that a gram of protein contains four calories. So:
83 grams * 4 calories/gram = 332 calories of protein
322 calories of protein / 2375 total calories = 13.6% of calories from protein
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How Much Protein Do I Need
Protein is essential because its used to build and repair cells. The NHS says we need 0.75g of protein for each kilogram of body mass.
So if you weigh 70kg you should aim for around 52.5g of protein each day.
On average, if your BMI is in the healthy range, it works out at 55g for men and 45g for women.
But if like me, youve started vegetarian life floundering around in the fridge wondering how much protein a lettuce contains, heres a handy guide to some common foods:
- Medium-sized egg 6.4g
- 400g tin of Heinz beans 20g
- 100g of peas 5g
- 100g of non-fat Greek yogurt 10g
- 100g of Quorn 14.5g
- 100g chickpeas 19g
- 100ml of milk 3.5g
So if you have a tin of beans as part of a plant-based lunch and add some grated cheese, youre roughly there. Or try a chickpea salad with a Greek yogurt for lunch and add some peas to your dinner bingo.
What Are Complete Proteins
While there are many vegetarian and vegan protein sources to choose from, the trickiest part is maintaining a proper balance of the nine essential amino acids. Proteins are comprised of various combinations of twenty different amino acids. Out of these twenty, we only need to intake nine of them since our body can just synthesize the other eleven out of the essential nine.
Foods which contain all 9 essential amino acids are known as complete proteins. Animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy fit into this category. If youre not a full-on vegetarian or vegan, occasionally including eggs and fish into your diet is an easy way to make sure youre getting both enough protein and also a proper balance of amino acids.
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Who Might Eat Alternative Proteins And Why
There are many different reasons why someone might choose alternative proteins. Certain religious beliefs, for example, encourage plant-based diets and others compel adherents to abstain from eating specific types of meat, such as pork or beef.
Other people may turn to alternatives for health reasons, especially in high-income countries where contemporary diets are rich in animal products. For example, diets in many higher-income countries such as the United States and Australia feature high intake of red meat and other cholesterol-rich foods such as cheese and eggswhich raise the risk of developing poor health conditions. Alternative proteins can offer people a way to reap the health benefits of reducing their animal protein intake without sacrificing the enjoyment derived from eating meat and other animal products.
Alternative proteins can also appeal to people who seek a more ethical diet. Concerns about the environment, climate change, and animal welfare are often cited as reasons for reducing animal products.
Food access is highly unequal in the US, but for consumers who have easy access to a range of food sources, selecting products that come from plant sources rather than from animal sources helps build the market for alternative products.
Why Ngos Should Support Alternative Proteins
Educating the US public on the animal, human, and environmental consequences of conventionally produced animal protein can be a contentious issue, given the widespread societal reluctance to reduce consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs. Yet, engagement with this uncomfortable issue is needed across the non-governmental sector to promote food system transformation. Taking action to transform the food system is one of the most effective strategies for achieving a healthier, more compassionate, and more equitable world. NGOs focused on the environment, anti-racism, labor organizing, and public health have ample reason to ally with proponents of food systems change.
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Why Bother With Meatless Protein
The benefits of getting your meatless protein sources have less to do with protein itself than with what else youre eating.Vegetarian diets naturally have more nutritious foods in them that can assist in preventing a host of health conditions and help you lose weight.
The significant lack of cholesterol in a vegetarian diet can help improve heart health, fiber can improve feelings of fullness, and you will get more essential vitamins to boost bone health, immune strength, and many other bodily functions.
Its also worth noting that the World Health Organization has recently linked regular processed meat intake to an increased risk of colon cancer, so getting that out of your system can keep you free of carcinogens.
How To Get Enough Protein Without Eating Meat
These days many people are going vegetarian for health or moral reasons. The common predicament discovered in this process is how to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. With the following tips, you can be sure to meet your protein requirements without the need for animal products.
To meet your bodys protein needs, you will have to strategize a nutrition plan to ensure that you get all the essential nutrients.
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Reach For A Good Protein Powder
Protein powders can be the perfect way to get some more protein in. There are vegan powders on the market as well as powders made from animal sources . They key is to find a powder that offers around 25 grams of protein per serving, is clean and does not come with added sugars or unnecessary fillers. Read those labels to be certain of what you are getting.
Choose Leaner Slightly Larger Cuts Of Meat
Selecting leaner cuts of meat and increasing portion sizes slightly can significantly boost the protein content of your meal.
Whats more, your meal may even end up being lower in calories.
For example, compare the nutritional value of a 3-ounce serving of these two steaks (
Peanut butter can also boost the flavor and nutritional value of firm fruits like apples and pears, which are rich in fiber and antioxidants yet low in protein.
In fact, spreading 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on sliced fruit can boost the total protein content by 7 grams .
Peanut butter also works well with a wide range of other ingredients, including oatmeal, celery, whole wheat toast, or yogurt.
Adding peanut butter to your diet can boost your protein intake. It may also help decrease appetite, improve heart health, and lower blood sugar.
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Here’s How I Get 80 Grams Of Protein A Day Without Eating Meat
There are so many opinions out there about proteinhow much you should be eating, when you should be eating itand everyone has an opinion about non-meat-eaters getting their protein. Without a doubt the most common response to someone saying they don’t eat meat is “Where/how do you get your protein?”
I’ve spent the last 11 years of my life as a vegetariantrying every different level, from vegan to ovo-vegetarian, to pescatarian. At each level, I’ve had to think about where I’m getting my protein and even though I love vegetables, I cannot hit the protein numbers I need to recover from my workouts and function at my best by eating only vegetables . And while there are plenty of conflicting protein opinions out there, my viewpoint is simple: if you have a protein goal, you should have healthy options to help you hit it, regardless of what that number is.
At present, I aim for 60 to 80 grams of protein a day. It may sound high, but this number was set for me by a naturopathic doctor, chosen specifically for my body and workout regimen . Of course it’s easier to hit 60 grams than 80, but I make it work and adjust as needed, mostly depending on how hungry I am and the intensity of my workout.
So if you’re looking to increase your protein intake, or just looking for plant-based protein inspo, here are some tricks that have made hitting my numbers easy .
Where Are Essential Amino Acids Found
Amino acids can be found in most foods. Foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Meat, poultry and fish are complete protein sources. But, if you are trying to eat less meat, you can obtain complete proteins from other animal products, such as, dairy and eggs.
Soybeans and quinoa are the only plant sources that are considered a complete protein. If you want to eat foods which are not complete proteins, you can eat those foods in combination with other foods to form a complete protein.
Foods are considered incomplete proteins because they dont contain all 9 essential amino acids, but are still great sources of protein. These would include legumes, other grains, nuts and seeds. Some examples of combining incomplete proteins include rice and beans, bulgur wheat and dried beans, barley and dried beans, corn and peas, soybeans and seeds, peanuts, rice and dried beans, seeds and green peas. These foods dont necessarily have to be eaten at the same meal, but should be eaten at some point during the same day.
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Warning: Dont Ignore Amino Acids
All protein is not created equally. Protein is made up of amino acids, and there are certain ones, called essential, which your body cannot produce on its own and must get through food.
As long as youre eating a wide variety of whole foods a good practice to follow for many reasons youre probably getting a nice mix of amino acids. One, though, thats particularly tough for vegetarians to get, is lysine, as explained in this article on protein from Vegan Health.
Only a few vegan foods contain lysine in large amounts, but fortunately, theyre staples in many of our diets: tempeh, tofu, and legumes. If you dont eat beans or soy, because of allergies or some other reason, youll need to pay special attention to lysine, and it might be worth considering an amino acid supplement.
See another No Meat Athlete article for a breakdown of various plant-based protein sources and their amino acid content.
Here’s How Much Protein To Eat In A Day
In order to determine how much protein you should have in a day, we spoke with Rachel Paul, PhD, RD from CollegeNutritionist.com to get some insight. “The US national recommendations say that the Dietary Reference Intake for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound,” says Paul. “So a person would multiply their body weight in pounds by 0.36. For a 150 pound person, this person should eat at least 54 grams of protein.”
Now typically a serving size of meat is about 4 to 5 oz. According to a handout published by the Nutrition Department at Johns Hopkins Medicine, protein from animal meat will give you 28 grams of protein per a 4 oz. serving. Some seafood has a smaller countlike crabmeat, shrimp, and lobsterwhich provides 24 grams of protein per a 4 oz. serving.
This means that at least 2 or 3 servings of meat will give you a sufficient amount of protein you need in one day. So in order to consume that much protein, we did a dive into other higher protein sources you can easily find at the store that are not directly connected to meat production.
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The Real Culprit: Protein Or Red Meat
There dont seem to have been any serious studies done comparing the overall health of people on high protein, meat-based diets with those on high protein, mostly vegetarian diets. Could it be that many of the health concerns associated with high protein diets come from the source of the protein rather than from the protein itself?
Eating meat is the quickest and easiest way to absorb a lot of protein at once, but there are still plenty of other ways to get it. Simply choosing the right foods . . . will remedy some problems associated with high protein intake, according to Bodyuilding.com.
Best Plant Protein Sources
If youre a vegetarian but not a vegan, you might incorporate these other protein sources into your diet:
- Eggs or egg whites: Eggs are a low-cost and nutritious source of protein. Each egg provides 6 to 8 grams. If you use egg whites, youll get fewer calories, but youll miss out on vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins housed in the yolk.
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of protein and calcium. To get the most protein bang for your buck, choose cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt. Both pack 13 grams of protein or more per serving, and you can dress them up with fruit, nuts or granola for a filling breakfast or snack.
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Its All About The Protein Package
When we eat foods for protein, we also eat everything that comes alongside it: the different fats, fiber, sodium, and more. Its this protein package thats likely to make a difference for health.
The table below shows a sample of food packages sorted by protein content, alongside a range of components that come with it.
To call out a few examples:
- A 4-ounce broiled sirloin steak is a great source of proteinabout 33 grams worth. But it also delivers about 5 grams of saturated fat.
- A 4-ounce ham steak with 22 grams of protein has only 1.6 grams of saturated fat, but its loaded with 1,500 milligrams worth of sodium.
- 4 ounces of grilled sockeye salmon has about 30 grams of protein, naturally low in sodium, and contains just over 1 gram of saturated fat. Salmon and other fatty fish are also excellent sources of omega-3 fats, a type of fat thats especially good for the heart.
- A cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber, and it has virtually no saturated fat or sodium.
What about protein powders?
Ways To Get More Protein Without Eating Meat
There are lots of wholesome ways to increase your protein intake without resorting to meat.
These days, protein seems to be the superstar nutrient and for good reason. Gram for gram, its more satisfying than carbohydrates or fat meaning it keeps you fuller, longer. Protein is also essential for repairing and building muscle and keeps your metabolism humming along.
The daily recommended dietary allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For most adult men and women, that translates to 46 to 56 grams of protein each day. For reference, a 3-ounce, fist-sized hamburger delivers 24 grams of protein.
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Eat A Daily Dose Of Almonds
Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E, B vitamins, and theyre a decent source of protein for a nut. Almonds contain 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup which is about an ounce, or 22 almonds.
Try Them Out In
Add some almonds to your next salad, eat them as a snack, or use almonds or almond butter in your smoothie or morning oatmeal. You can also make your own energy bars and bites with them and use almond butter in place of eggs and oil when baking.
Since almonds are high in fat, you dont want to overdo your intake of nut-based sources of protein and they can tend to cause a stomachache if you eat too many at one time. However, enjoying one serving of nuts and seeds per day is a great way to up your intake of plant-based, heart-healthy protein without eating any meat, eggs, or dairy products.