Most meat-eating Americans are eating about 1.5- 2 times the recommended dietary allowance for protein, which is fine, except that the majority of this extra protein is coming from animal products often high in calories and lacking in the nutritional benefits that other plant-based proteins can provide. Protein can help curb hunger, which is why it is important to have a protein source with each meal. If you're interested in increasing your protein intake with plant-based foods, choose foods from this list:
Beans, beans beans! Adzuki beans, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans -- you name it, they're all high in protein.
Ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth and barley
Brown rice, whole grain breads and cereals
Nuts and seeds and their butters. Try sunflower butter, cashew butter and almond butter for a switch.
Top cereal and yogurt with chia seeds or flaxseed meal.
Green veggies: Edamame, spinach, peas, kale and broccoli
Don't forget that dairy products like milk and yogurt are packed with protein (and lots of other important nutrients) as well. If you would rather have a milk alternative, go with soymilk. Almond milk and coconut milk are comparatively low in protein. Nutrition experts, authors, diet gurus and physicians all have their own theories when it comes to nutrition. Cut out sugar, no cut out fat... no wait, fat is good, cut out gluten instead. New information, studies and diet books pop up weekly with new recommendations and "magic" diets for us to follow. But, one thing that ALL experts can agree on is that we need to eat MORE fruits and vegetables. Everyone's health and well-being can benefit from shifting to a more plant-based diet, and so can the environment!
Don't get your nutrition advice from a friend's Facebook post or a blogger with no credentials-- make sure your information is coming from a respected nutrition professional, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist.
By Megan A Ware