In the world of nutrition, how much and what type of protein we should consume is highly debated. Some say high quality animal meat is needed for optimal health, while others advocate for more vegetarian diets and plant-based sources of protein. The goal is to experiment with what works for your body, right now in your life.
The health benefits of following a more vegetarian or plant-based diet include:
Including a variety of whole foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains, without relying on heavily processed foods, ensures proper protein, vitamins and minerals are being met and absorbed. Those who avoid all types of animal products and proteins may want to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, calcium, iron and vitamin D into their daily diet.
If you are simply looking to consume more plant-based protein, look to grain, beans, legume and nuts. And don’t discount vegetables, as they contain protein too. When determining what source of protein to go with, refer to the following guide:
Animal-derived foods can be an excellent source of protein, but keep in mind they may also be higher in saturated fat and cholesterol. If you choose to include foods like red meat, poultry and eggs into your diet, consider local, organic/grass-fed sustainable options and pay attention to portion sizes (a proper serving is 3 oz, or the size of the palm of your hand). Choose quality over quantity and balance animal protein sources with plenty of plant-based foods like leafy greens, fruits, whole grains and nuts/seeds. Again, experiment with what works best for your body and lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition or want a few recipes to incorporate into your weekly meal plan, email firstname.lastname@example.org.