Why we can look to meat alternatives for a healthy source of protein.
Why should we be eating more plant based protein when we can just eat meat? Meat is a convenient source of all 9 essential amino acids, and it has the added source of Iron, B12 not to mention great fatty acids in wild fish.
Plant based sources on the other hand have lots of fibre, added minerals, massive anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins and non-traditional nutrients called phytochemicals that protect our DNA by reducing oxidative stress.
It is a good idea to have a varied diet consisting of largely plant based ingredients and the majority of people would benefit from having more plants on their plates!
Make sure if you decide to go full vegetarian or vegan you are aware of some minerals you may need to supplement:
- Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, making it easy to become deficient if eating a vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids are important for heart health. Diets that do not include fish and eggs are generally low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and ground flaxseeds are good sources of essential fatty acids however, because conversion of plant-based omega-3 to the types used by humans is inefficient, you may want to consider supplementing with a fish oil or algae based product.
- Iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products and dark leafy green vegetables are good sources of iron. Similar to Omega-3's, iron isn't as easily absorbed from plant sources making the recommended intake of iron for vegetarians almost double that recommended for non-vegetarians. To help your body absorb iron, eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli, at the same time as you're eating iron-containing foods.
My favourite go-to for inspiration is Dr. Rupi Aujla - check out his youtube channel here for some great ideas!