Whether you’re looking to go vegan or simply reduce meat from your diet, you’ll need to find delicious plant-based proteins.
When people think of plant-based proteins, they typically think of tofu. However, there are so many other great sources. Protein is essential to a healthy body. You don’t even need to consume large amounts in one sitting to get all the great benefits.
Instead of looking for major meat replacements for meals, try incorporating small amounts of protein throughout your day in snacks.
Reasons to Reduce Your Meat Intake
If you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle, you should start with your diet. An easy way to start feeling and looking amazing is to reduce your meat intake. Did I say easy? Yes, easy! There are so many ways to sneak protein into your daily routine and so many reasons to cut out meat.
- Reduced cancer risk: Vegetarians are 40% less likely to develop cancer than their meat-eating counterparts.
- Reverse cardiovascular risk: Americans with cardiovascular disease have been able to reverse their symptoms by making healthy lifestyle changes like switching to a meatless diet.
- Fight inflammation: Eating red meat and especially processed deli meat is directly linked to increased chronic inflammation.
- Antibiotics: Pigs, cows, and chickens are all laced with antibiotics to keep them alive and somewhat healthy in large factory farms. This is why meat consumption is partially responsible for antibiotic resistance in humans.
- Overall health: Reducing your meat intake lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, is less taxing for your liver, and helps balance blood sugar levels.
- Beautiful skin: Inflammation from processed meats and other chemicals can trigger breakouts and inflamed skin.
Excellent Plant-Based Proteins Easy to Incorporate Into Your Diet
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of plant-based sources for adding protein to your diet throughout the entire day. From breakfast to dinner, there’s something for every occasion.
1. Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein powder is an excellent vegan alternative to whey protein and others like it. Sure, soy protein is also vegan. However, soy is often heavily genetically engineered and contains many phytoestrogens which can screw up your hormones. Pea protein powder, on the other hand, delivers all the same power of protein but without the side effects of whey or soy.
Yes, believe it or not, artichokes are packed with both protein and heart-healthy fiber. Plus, artichokes are naturally low in calories (unless you slather them with butter) which makes them a perfect focal point for your meatless meals.
Ah, the simple oat. It’s loaded with easily digestible fiber and has much lower starch levels than brown rice. Besides boasting decent protein levels, oatmeal also contains a host of other vitamins and nutrients including calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
4. Chia Seeds
The tiny chia seed contains a ton of antioxidants, magnesium, omega-3s, and yes, even protein. Sprinkle chia seeds into your afternoon smoothie or make a delicious chia pudding for breakfast.
5. Dark Green Veggies
Dark green veggies like broccoli, spinach, asparagus, and green beans are loaded with protein. Bonus: Most of these veggies are also packed with B vitamins, folate, and lots of fiber. Dark leafy greens like spinach also contain decent levels of iron. But be careful: Calcium (which is also found in leafy greens) reduces iron absorption in the body.
Nuts like almonds and peanuts are a great way to introduce small levels of protein throughout the day. Most nuts also have naturally high levels of other nutrients like vitamin E. Since nuts typically contain high levels of fat, it’s best not to rely on them for your main protein source. Make sure you only buy raw nuts because roasting can damage their chemical structure.
7. Nutritional Yeast
Can’t seem to kick the cheese habit? Nutritional yeast provides a protein-packed alternative that tastes somewhat like cheese, making it perfect for dips, dressings, and even macaroni and “cheese.”
8. Pumpkin Seeds
Fall lovers, this one’s for you! Pumpkin seeds are loaded with healthy protein levels and many other nutrients such as magnesium and iron.
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