Four years ago today I pledged to give up meat and make a lifestyle change to be healthier. I haven’t looked back since; I’ve never once regretted giving up meat, and feel better than ever. Though, many people may not understand why one chooses to become a vegetarian, it has to be your own personal beliefs and inspirations to make the change. What I do know, and strongly believe, is that going vegetarian is better for your personal health, better for the environment, and quite frankly a break for your wallet.
Animal foods are higher in fat than most plant foods, particularly saturated fats, and plants do not contain cholesterol.
The number one thing I hear from so many friends and family is:
“If you’re vegetarian, how do you get your protein?”
On average 15-30% of our caloric intake is supposed to be protein. Most people don’t realize that the average American consumes well beyond the minimum amount of protein than our bodies need each day (as much at 50% more), the only exception is pregnant women and body builders.
It is recommended that the average person take is between 40-70 grams of protein a day. Of course many factors (age, gender, weight) can vary the actual amount needed for the body. An individual who partakes in endurance and strength training should consume 0.5 – 0.8 grams per pound. For example, say I weigh 150 pounds; the minimum protein intake to satisfy my body’s needs which is still only 75 grams.
So what are my main sources of protein, as an herbavore?
-Whole grains: quinoa (1 cup is 18 grams of protein), whole grain bread, brown rice, barley, tofu/soy products, beans, lentils, and legumes (these can include hummus, edamame, black beans, etc). High proteins also found in nuts, nut butter= PEANUT BUTTER (who doesn’t love a heaping scoop of peanut butter on a banana, or on top of you favorite dessert?), and of course there are the meat substitutions that are typically slam packed with protein and you can always fall back on a protein shake post workout, or if you’re feeling lazy and do not want to put any effort into creating a colorful meal (one scoop, typically contains between 15-19 gram of protein)
Did you know there are negative side effects associated with High Protein Diets?
These include heart disease and some types of cancer. It can also negatively affect your kidneys if you go a prolonged period of time eating a high-protein diet because it requires your kidneys go into overload working to eliminate the raised levels of urea produced.
I’m not here to convince you to give up meat and become vegetarian, but I do want to help people make the right choices and choose a healthier lifestyle by working out and staying active, and eating a healthy diet regularly (give up on those fad diets- they don’t work forever!)