There are various reasons for why people decide to decrease or replace animal protein in their diet. First, there are those who do it to protect the environment and for the empathy they have for animals. Meanwhile, there are others who do it because they suffer from a health problem that calls for a change in their diet.
Regardless of the reason that one decides to stop eating meat or animal products, everyone needs protein. The body requires essential amino acids that it cannot make on its own, and it gets them from the proteins that we consume.
The functions of protein
Every type of protein has a function in our body. Some take part in its defense by creating antibodies. Others play an important role in the function of our muscles.
There are proteins that help with our biochemical reactions and help produce various enzymes. Others transport molecules from one place in the body to another. These are just some of the functions that proteins take in part in to keep our body operating properly.
No matter what, it’s important that those who decide to replace animal protein in their diets pay attention to their foods and know how to get the nutrients they need. The goal is to cover all of the nutritional requirements in order to stay healthy.
Vegetarian or vegan?
Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but they do let themselves eat products that come from animals, such as eggs and dairy. Some of them even eat fish and seafood. In addition, there are others who are more strict and will not eat “anything that has eyes.”
Vegans do not eat any product that comes from animals, which makes it a bit more difficult for them to get enough protein in their diets. For both, vegetarians and vegans, there are many options that will allow them to have a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Different options for replacing animal protein
Eggs contain about 6 grams of protein (each one). They’re an excellent substitute; you can choose to eat just the egg white, or with the yolk as well. The secret to making eggs healthy is in the way you cook them, fried eggs raise your cholesterol, so it is best to boil them.
Eggs are a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen, which is why so many recipes call for them and why you can make them so many different ways.
Nuts and seeds
A handful of seeds a day (between 80 and 100 grams), can contain between 3 and 8 grams of protein. The advantage of nuts is that almost everyone likes them. When it comes to nuts and seeds, the list is long and delicious:
- Pine nuts
- Sunflower seeds
These nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, in addition to proteins. They also provide fibers and minerals. Be careful of the salt content, or how much salt you are adding when you want to give them more flavor. Excess salt causes water retention and, as a consequence, arterial hypertension.
Tofu is one of the vegan’s favorites when it comes to finding a replacement for animal protein. It is a product that comes from soy beans; because of its firm, white appearance, and the way that it is prepared, it is called soy curd.
Tofu offers a high amount of proteins, minerals and omega 3s. It can be made many different ways, from adding it to salads to using it as a substitute for hamburger meat. In addition, it’s also a great substitute for chicken in some recipes.
This is a seed with a high protein content. Just 100 grams of this seed contains 16 grams of protein. In addition, it’s also rich in fiber and omega 3s. Plus, it’s a great option for those with Celiacs since it does not contain gluten.
It can be used as a grain, added to salads or made as a side dish to replace rice. In a dietetic analysis, it was found to be one of the best options for replacing animal protein.
They are delicious and can be prepared many different ways. Among them are refried beans, lentils, soy beans and garbanzo; they are a valuable source of protein. For example, 100 grams of lentils gives you 9 grams of protein. Whereas 100 grams of soy beans contain 36 grams of protein.
Seitan is wheat gluten and can be prepared just like meat. It can substitute the meat you use in hamburgers, meatballs or any other dish. It can have up to 75 grams of protein for every 100 grams. Among its many advantages, it is important to note that it is easily digested.
Seitan contains calcium, and it is gluten and cholesterol free. Its flavor is comparable to that of meat, making it ideal as a replacement for many recipes.