Hello again! I hope you’ve had an awesome start to your weekend. I received a request to talk about ways to increase plant-based protein consumption and in turn consume less meat and other animal products.
I want to first begin saying that it is very do-able to consume a vegetarian diet. But, before changing the consistency of your diet (i.e. becoming a vegetarian), it is important to have blood work done to check your levels of some important vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B12 (which primarily comes from animal products), and Iron.
While consuming meat can provide your body with lots of protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium to name a few, consuming plant-based protein foods can be a great way to increase your fiber intake, lower your saturated fat levels, and also save some $$!
Lately, you may have seen a shift towards higher protein/lower carbohydrate diets. One reason this concerns me is that most Americans over-consume protein.
To begin, I want to note the amount of protein that is recommended for the average adult. For those that are very active or who are in naturally larger bodies, these numbers will be higher.
Females between 19-50 years of age: About 5.5 ounces protein per day
Males between 19-50 years of age: About 6.5 ounces protein per day
For reference, 1 oz of meat, poultry, or fish is about the size of a deck of cards. Other 1-oz equivalents include 1 egg, 1/4 cup beans, and 1 TBSP nut butter. You’re probably thinking.. wow, 5-7 ounces add up very quickly! And yes, it does!
Tofu stir-fry I tried while in Asheville, NC
So, where do the rest of the calories I need to survive each day come from? Primarily carbohydrates and some fat! Some people become fearful of grains such as pasta rice, cereal, etc. But in reality, carbohydrates are so so important for us! Did you know that fruit and vegetables are also sources of carbohydrates? 🙂
Carbs are the main source of energy or ATP for our bodies. Many carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are great sources of fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient because it aids in digestion and helps you feel “full.” Choosing whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal are awesome ways to increase your fiber intake as well as B vitamins and iron. In contrast, animal products such as meat, eggs, and fish contain no natural sources of fiber. Plant-based proteins, such as beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, lentils, etc. are also awesome sources of fiber!
Here are some easy ideas for increasing your plant-based protein consumption. I’m working on creating some easy recipes for you all in the next few days. For now, give one of these of a try and let me know what you think 🙂
Stir-frys: Sauté some vegetables in a wok or skillet and add in tofu with some low-sodium soy sauce and garlic. Serve with brown rice or whole wheat pasta. You can use this recipe or create your own!
Make a burrito bowl filled with black or pinto beans, corn, brown rice, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, and cilantro.
Make a vegetarian chili with beans and tofu in place of meat. Here is an awesome recipe.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you learned something new today! Let me know if you make any of these recipes or create your own 🙂
Colorful, veggie-filled lunch from one day at Virginia Tech