Alternatives for Replacing Animal Protein in Your Diet
If you plan to try to reduce your consumption of animal protein or you've already started doing it, you should keep some important things in mind.
There are various reasons 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. Therefore, some take part in its defense by creating antibodies. Others play an important role in the function of your muscles.
There are proteins that help with your biochemical reactions and help produce various enzymes. Others transport molecules from one place in the body to another. However, these are just some of the functions that proteins take in part to keep your 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’ll allow them to have a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Alternatives for replacing animal protein
Experts from the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN) indicate that eggs are a source of protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, iodine, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin D, and folates. And they clarify that the protein is of the highest quality, due to its high biological power.
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 increase your fat consumption, so you might want 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 in 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
- Pumpkin 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. This is because excess salt causes water retention and, as a consequence, arterial hypertension.
Tofu as an animal protein alternative
Tofu is one of the vegan’s favorites when it comes to finding a replacement for animal protein. It’s a product that comes from soybeans; because of its firm, white appearance, and the way that it’s prepared, it is called soy curd.
Tofu offers a high amount of proteins, minerals, and omega 3s. It can be made in 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.
Read about the Varieties of Vegan Cheeses and Their Benefits
They’re delicious and can be prepared in many different ways. Among them are refried beans, lentils, soybeans, 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 soybeans contain 36 grams of protein. However, not all beans have the same protein content.
Seitan is an animal protein alternative
Seitan is wheat gluten and can be prepared just like meat. Therefore, 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’s important to note that it’s easily digested.
Seitan contains calcium, and it’s gluten and cholesterol-free. Furthermore, its flavor is comparable to that of meat, making it ideal as a replacement for many recipes.
These are some of the sources of vegetable protein that you can include in your diet to complement and balance it and replace animal protein, but remember that if you have doubts about this subject, it’s best to consult a nutritionist.