Vegetarian + Vegan 3041469217_6cf2848dfb

Published on March 16th, 2009 | by Rachel Venokur-Clark

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Debunking the Protein Myths: 6 sources of Vegetable Protein.

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We have all heard that to lose weight and build muscle we should eat more protein. The Atkins diet had huge success with this concept for many years, until the founder died a few years ago. He reportedly had a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension at the time of his death. Interesting. Typically, when we are told to eat more protein, we often turn to animal protein sources, like beef, chicken and eggs. In fact, most of our diets contain way too much animal and not enough plant based protein sources like vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes.

Protein is one of the three major nutrients the body needs. It helps keep our cells and tissues strong. However, diets high in only animal protein have been linked to cancer, heart disease, kidney problems and intestinal disorders. So how can you get enough protein for your body without getting it all from animal sources?
The reality is that only around 15 percent of daily calorie intake should come from protein. This means for most of us eating a 2000 a day diet, we only need around 300 calories worth of protein. If you are a heavy weight lifter and body builder, this number would increase, but only slightly.

Every vegetarian food contains some protein. There are many options that contain the same amino acids that you can find in animal protein. If you would like to cut down your animal protein and increase your consumption of plant-based proteins, try some of these options:

Beans:

Contain a more complete set of amino acids than other plant-based food and they are high in iron, B vitamins and fiber. Try substituting beans in recipes that call for meat.

Grains:

Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrition, as they contain essential enzymes, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin E, and the B-complex vitamins. Because the body absorbs grain slowly, they provide sustained and high quality energy. Try Quinoa, a complete protein source, and super easy to make.

Goji Berries:

Goji’s are a complete protein source. This delicious, low calorie snack strengthens your immune system, increases energy and helps to curb cravings. It has one of the highest antioxidant contents in all food.

Green Vegetables:

Nutritionally, greens are very high in protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micro-nutrients and phyto-chemicals. Simply stir-fry up or steam some broccoli, kale, bok choy, or cabbage.

Sea Vegetables:

As this planet’s singularly most nutritious food, sea vegetables contain protein and all of the minerals needed for health. With 10 to 20 times the minerals of land plants, plus the added punch of a range of vitamins, the addition of sea vegetables to your diet will help meet your nutritional needs.

Soy:

Soybeans contain all essential amino acids. Traditionally, people ate baby soybeans, known as edamame, or took time to ferment the soybeans and made tofu, tempeh, miso and tamari for easy digestibility.

Let’s not forget about nuts and seeds, which offer you protein and a good source of healthy fats, in moderation.

It is very easy to get enough protein by consuming some of the plant-based options above. You have the choice to substitute some of your animal protein sources for plant based ones and to start eating a little healthier today.

Photo Credit: fotoosvanrobin at Flickr.com for Creative Commons.

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About the Author

Rachel Venokur-Clark is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Rachel is trained in all the different dietary theories, eastern and western nutrition, modern health issues, personal growth and development, and health counseling. Rachel specializes in helping clients transition away from the standard American diet (SAD) to a more plant-based way of eating for optimum sexual health and overall vitality. Whether you are looking to clean up your diet, lose weight, control your symptoms, increase your quality of life or make a full transition, her coaching will empower you to make long lasting choices that work specifically for you. Her career has given her the opportunity to help others not only improve their health, but improve their lives and go on to live the lives they have always wanted. Rachel is currently practicing in NYC. The program can either be done in person or over the phone. Visit www.renewforanewyou.com to begin you journey towards a healthier you today.



  • http://alifelesssweet.blogspot.com/ cathy

    Great post! I’ve been reading a lot about proteins lately and was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is to get a complete slate of protein eating just vegetables. I think that people (especially here in the states) are convinced that meat is the only way to easily get all the protein their bodies need, but that’s just not true.

    Not a vegetarian, btw. Just interested in eating healthier! We’re still eating meat, but less – and having a great time discovering tasty vegetarian options!

  • Sandra

    I think its funny how people are convinced they need to eat protein to lose weight. In october I gave up all meat and in the process lost 25lbs that… no matter what I do I can’t gain back. I’m 26, female and 5’10. I used to weight 150 and now I’m down to 125. So… still think that the whole atkins thing is ridiculous.

  • http://www.msphillyorganic.com Marilyn

    Excellent and timely post. A lot of people are writing about protein needs now and most of them rail against vegetarianism. None of them are doctors or nutritionists and aren’t qualified to tell people what to eat. Unfortunately so many of them are recommending too much protein and too few sources and too much animal protein.

  • http://www.blackjacklasvegas.net BlackJackLasVegas

    This is one of the best article about this I have read!

  • John Chappell

    What a fantastic article, thanks. We can always use more information on non-animal sourced protein.

  • http://www.walkinthisworld.com Erin

    Great easy-to-read post. I’ve linked it over on my site (www.walkinthisworld.com)

  • Jaideep

    great article.. people claim that to build muscle, u HAVE TO eat animal protein.. now i can throw this article in their face :) :)

  • Pingback: Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping - Veggie Beauty

  • http://Web Pamela

    There is some interesting research on soy. I hope that the author will review it and consider removing it from this list. Soy, in the United States, is genetically modified and has been proven in clinical research to be harmful for adults and children.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      There is definitely some interesting research on soy, and while some of it is troubling, I am not sure it’s conclusive enough to discount organic soy as a veggie protein source. Moderation is key, imo. :)

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