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18 Foods to add Protein to Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
So you have decided to look into healthier lifestyles and wonder what it means to be a vegetarian or vegan. Whatever your reasons for considering to opt out of animal product consumption. The need for proteins in your diet will not change. Adding additional protein to your diet can easily be done without consuming meat or animal products. You just need to know what foods will give you extra protein. Here are a few reasons people choose to become vegan or vegetarians:
- Medical or health issues.
- Morals and ethical concerns for the treatment of animals.
- Religious affiliations.
- Preferring a vegetable rich diet over meat consumption.
Whatever your reasons for making this lifestyle change, you are sure to find many ways to add protein to your new diet and lifestyle.
Vegan or Vegetarian
Being a vegetarian means a person that does not consume meat, or meat products. Sometimes they will also include other animal products as well (eggs, milk). Often times this decision is made out of religious or moral standing. Sometimes this decision is also based on medical and health concerns. Now that you know what vegetarianism is you are probably wondering how that differs from veganism.
Being veganmeans that you absolutely abstain from the use of ALL animal products. Focusing on diet, and a vegan will often non food items made from animals as well. It follows the philosophy that animals are not commodities and they should be treated with respect. Basically nothing animal related at all in your diet or on your body. No leather or fur coats, or any other clothing derived from animals.
Vegucated is a documentary that can open your eyes to many things you did not know about veganism, vegetarianism, and the animal farming industry. I learned some great eye opening things about the food industry I did not know when I watched it.
The Choice To Be Vegetarian or Vegan
You may have stumbled on to this hub for many reasons. Are you wondering why you would make the choice to stop being a carnivore? Or, you may just have a veggie loving friend and you wonder what they can eat.
If you are making the decision to go all veg, it can be a hard one. For those of that love bacon and other meats, you may find yourself missing those strips of bacon with your breakfast. Just keep in mind that if you find it really is not for you, that is totally okay. No one should be judging you on your eating habits anyway!
If you are not sure if you can commit to the lifestyle change, start out small. Make one meal a day a vegetarian meal. You can opt for just lunch and work your way up to breakfast as well. If you find that you do well with the switch then you should be able to easily fade out the meat in your dinner or supper as well.
There are many great snacks for the veggie lover too, you could start small and just try snacking on your veg to begin with. If you aim at weight loss with this lifestyle change, you could be disappointed. Although most people do see a drop in the waistline, it may be less than you expect.
If you are still not sure if you can do it. You may find the documentary Vegucated to be very enlightening, as it follows a few people that were not sure they could commit to the change. As well as opening our eyes to the truth behind 'big food' and factory farming. If you are an animal lover there are a few images that may bother you, when they visit a factory farm (just a heads up). You may want to check with Netflix to see if it is available for streaming. It is well worth watching, and very enlightening for anyone considering a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
Importance of Protien in a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet
Are you wondering why you need a protein source if you are deciding on a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. It is the main building block of our bodies, that's why!
Proteins are used to make organs, hormones, muscles, tendons and even our skin! As well as being used by our bodies to make neurotransmitters, enzymes and tiny muscles that you may not even realize you use! It only makes sense why a protein packed meal is so desirable before a workout! A breakfast high in protein will set your energy level for the entire day too.
Do You Need Protein Rich Foods in a Vegetarian or Vegan Lifestyle
If you have decided you are ready to change not just your eating habits but the entire lifestyle of a carnivore, you still need proteins. They are an essential nutrient that our bodies need. Since you will be avoiding animal based proteins you will need to find other means of filling this nutritional need. There are many health issues that can occur if one does not eat enough protein.
The focus is on lean healthy proteins. There are many groups of proteins, and they all help in their own way. Amino acidsare an important group that comes from protein. There are a total of 22 amino acids. There are "essential amino acids" and "nonessential amino acids" these are both equally important in your body.
These acids strengthen the intestinal cells,stabilizes the immune system, helps you deal with stress, reduces anxiety and even helps deter depression. The amino acidsornithine and arginine and glutamine are essential for obtaining good night's sleep and eliminating fatigue. While Carnitine supports brain functions, stabilizes moods, and reduces stress. Amino acids are often linked with weight loss as well. Especially when used in conjunction with whey powder it can help build muscle.
18 Proteins for Vegans and Vegetarians
I want to point out that I am not a full on vegetarian or vegan. I like alternative proteins in my diet. While meat provides me with protein there are many other GREAT proteins available. I replace meat with alternative proteins very often. I just really love my bacon y'all! Sorry if you find that offensive as you are embarking on this journey. So just call me a 'PT VT' (part time vegetarian). What I am is very knowledgeable in alternative protein sources. Even though I am still a part time carnivore.
Consider these 18 alternatives to meat based proteins if you are pursuing Vegetarianism or Veganism:
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seed
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Nut butters
Those are some great foods that will add some protein to any vegan or vegetarian diet. Using them in recipes will help to add protein to your dishes. Chia seeds have 11 grams of protein in just an ounce. I enjoy using chia seeds as a binding agent for baking instead of eggs. There are many available soy products on the market. Products like soy Milk, yogurt, edamame, soy nuts, even soy ice cream. Flax Seed is great for adding to recipes too and 1 cup has 31 grams of protein. Flax is a great source of added protein to any diet.
Deciding to be a Vegan or Vegatarian is a Lifestyle Change
If you are considering a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, and you find it overwhelming- do not get discouraged. There are plenty of fruits and veggies out there that will keep you from eating the same old thing over and over.
Lettuce wraps are a perfect example. Crunchy and crisp while filled with anything you choose. You can make a mango salsa and fill lettuce wraps for a little tropical treat! Or make a peanut sauce and fill them with grilled tofu drizzled in the sauce! The possibilities are only limited by your own imagination!
Again I am not a full on vegetarian or vegan. Although I do eat many meat free meals and dishes at home.
You can go willy nilly and buy whatever vegetables you like. Although if you would like to learn about what GMO means as opposed to organic vegetables you can read about it here.
Consider growing your own veggies. Think about it, what you buy in the market during winter are all out of season products, likely ripened by the use of gasses. By growimg your own you can preserve them at their peak of ripness and enjoy them at their most nutrition rich state all winter. Without buying the really tasteless crops available at big box stores and grocery retailers.