In 1992, the USDA introduced the food pyramid guide in addition to the HealthyEating Plate as an example of what all Americans should base their diets on. With meat as one of the main sources for the protein food group, and meat being considered a scarce item in most cultures, our society has become obsessed with including it into every meal. Don’t get us wrong, protein is still important, but most Americans actually eat more protein than necessary. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average amount of protein a person needs per day is 0.8g per lb you weigh. For example, if you are 5’7 and weigh 135lb, you only need 51g of protein a day. An average American male, however, consumes 100g a day which is well over recommendation.
What is more important for your body than protein intake is fiber, which can be found in whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Without fiber, our digestive system isn’t able to absorb nutrients properly or pass food through your body. The best part about plant-based proteins is you are obtaining both protein and fiber into your diet with every bite!
Some recipe ideas / tips for incorporating plant-based proteins:
- Beans / Legumes:
- Black Beans:
- Vegan Red Lentil Curry by Rainbow Plant Life
- Kidney Beans:
- Vegetarian chili by Cookie + Kate
- Soybean products:
- Tofu: can be added to any asian recipe! Just replace the meat with tofu.
- Marinated Peanut Tempeh by Minimalist Baker
- Edamame Soba Noodles by Cookie + Kate
- Nuts / Seeds:
- Add nuts / seeds to your salads for added protein, healthy fats, and an added crunch
- Hemp seeds: add to salads, smoothies, oatmeal, desserts, or even use it make desserts like these Dark Chocolate Hemp Energy Bites by Minimalist Baker
- Chia Seeds: add to your oatmeal, smoothies, or make a delicious chia seed pudding
- Chia Seed Pudding by Eating Bird Food
- Nutritional Yeast: sprinkle this on any meal to give it a cheesy flavor without the dairy and with tons of added nutrients like vitamin B12
- Spirulina Smoothie by Minimalist Baker
- Vegetables: Add veggies to ALL of your meals! The best part of vegetables is that they’re low in calories so you can eat as much you want. We like to fill our plates with at least 50% vegetables. This should be the star of your meals, not the protein, regardless if that protein is plant-based or not! As long as you focus on eating tons of veggies in every meal, you don’t have to worry that you’re not getting enough protein.
You don’t have to completely cut out meat from your life but eating less can only do more good than harm. Start by taking small steps and trying to incorporate plant-based protein sources 1-2x per week. Notice how your body feels after eating less meat, and adjust accordingly! Like we always say, everyone’s body is different so do what feels best for you. If you make any of the recipes we linked don’t forget to tag us on social media! See you guys next month for more healthy tips and tricks to improve your health and become your best self.