Less meat production is better for the environment, and there’s always the moral dilemma that comes with being able to eat one animal but taking care of another as if it were family.
There are good reasons to keep meat in your diet in terms of certain nutrients and vitamins that are in meat, but if there are ways to keep up with your nutrition without having to stuff your face with the dead chunks of animals.
Know what foods are high in complete protein
Many vegetarian foods are packed with protein—some most people don’t even know about. A complete protein contains 9 of the 20 amino acids that the human body doesn’t produce naturally, and there are so many different options one can opt in for when it comes to adopting a vegetarian diet.
For example, eggs are a complete protein. Most people know by now that eggs offer a great source of protein, but what they may not know is that they don’t have to eat eggs with every meal.
Nutrition is based on what you eat every day as opposed to every meal so as long as you’re getting all your protein throughout the day, it doesn’t matter with which meal you get them. Along with eggs, there are quinoa, buckwheat (which is a type of rhubarb and not actually a wheat), soy and beans.
In addition, tofu can be prepared much like any meat dish so using it in place of meat is actually quite easy. When it comes to snacks, a peanut butter sandwich can pack a whopping 15 grams per serving and that, along with the bread used, makes a complete protein.
Fill up on high protein vegetables
When first cutting down on meat, you may find yourself hungrier than ever, but to keep yourself from overindulging in high calorie protein replacements, be sure to fill up on your vegetables.
They are supposed to account for half of all you eat after all, and you can eat more vegetables in one sitting without the high calories that other food groups provide.
Vegetables like asparagus, peas, broccoli and edamame are great to fill you up because you can eat a lot more and they offer high protein content. Just be sure to mix it up with all your favorite vegetables so you don’t get sick of them.
Plan for the diet change
If you don’t plan to add good protein sources in your diet, for the first little while you’re going to feel tired, lethargic and not yourself. This is why you must go into being a vegetarian armed with the knowledge of how to do it properly without sacrificing anything. This includes protein as well as iron.
Iron is found in a lot of meats, mainly red meat, and the body needs it just like any other nutrient that keeps us going.
To be sure you’re getting both protein and iron, you’ll want to snack on things such as nuts, including almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. These snacks are great because they’re very healthy for you, but be sure to get serving sizes right because they pack a punch when it comes to calories.
Other foods with both protein and high iron content are swiss chard, collard greens, soybeans and lentils. If you can manage to get all of these into your diet, it will be smooth sailing.
Know your stuff
It’s easy to read a few short articles about what to eat in place of your protein, but it’s important that you do your own research.
Certain foods you may like but not know how to prepare and others you may never want to eat so you have to make sure that you research as much as possible to ensure that you’re going into the diet change knowing full well what you’re getting into and how to ensure optimal health while doing so.
It’s not enough just to cut out the meat because you will literally be starving yourself of necessary nutrients. Not only is protein needed in the body, it’s also recommended because it helps with normal function of the metabolism and the building of lean muscle mass.
Be sure to eat at least a complete protein or several incomplete proteins such as rice and beans, spinach, hummus and pita and certain dairy products such as milk and cheese.
For a lot of us, becoming a vegetarian would be a feat of epic proportions, but that doesn’t make the change any less worth it.
If you can follow a specific diet full of complete and incomplete proteins along with the necessary fruits, vegetables and grains you can be just as healthy, if not healthier, without eating any meat.
Have you ever tried a vegetarian diet? If so, how did you manage to keep up your protein intake?