As soon as I explain to someone that I have cut out all animal products from my diet, I nearly always get the same reaction. Instead of being impressed that I have chosen to live a healthier lifestyle, I am often bombarded with a myriad of concerns. However, the first concern I am always prompted with is how I will get my protein. Not only do I get all the protein I need, but I will not suffer from an excess of it in my body. The World Health Organization suggests that the 150 pound man should have 22.5 grams of protein daily based on a 2000 calorie diet. This would mean that only 4.5% of his calories should come from protein. As a meat eating society, we consume on average over 100 grams of protein daily, a dangerous amount.
Why is it dangerous to eat too much protein? Our body can only store fats and carbohydrates, not protein. This is problematic for two main reasons. One, if we consume more protein than our bodies require to survive, our liver and kidneys become overburdened. Two, when your body is suffering from an excess of protein, calcium will begin to leach from your bones in order to neutralize the surplus of animal protein that has become acidic in the body.
Yes, we need protein to survive, but a different kind of protein. Proteins are made up of a chain of approximately twenty different amino acids, eight of which are essential because our body can’t produce them; they must be absorbed by the food we eat. The other amino acids are “nonessential” because our body produces them on its own. The goal is to achieve an optimal amino acid balance in the body. Plants contain every essential as well as nonessential amino acid which creates a perfect balance within the body when consumed. Amino acids that come from plants are safer, healthier and are of a higher quality than the ones found in animal protein.
We are so accustomed to only equating protein with meat. Protein can be found in almost all plant-based foods. Yes, they contain smaller amounts but over the course of the day, the protein adds up and will provide the body with just the right amount; not too little, not too much.
Pictured here is a fat-free quinoa vegan chili I made a few weeks ago. This chili is PACKED with plant-based protein and fiber! Yum!
Link to recipe: https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/vegetarian-quinoa-chili/