But where will you get your protein?

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When I mentioned to my mom that I was flirting with the idea of becoming vegetarian, I immediately knew what she would do-mildly panic.  I knew she’d heard of the “dangers” that some people mistakenly link to cutting meat out of your diet.  But not eating animals doesn’t necessarily mean you fall victim to zinc, iron, calcium or protein deficiencies.  In fact, many beef or poultry alternatives like beans, nuts, fruits or vegetables have just as much, if not MORE essential nutrients than their counterparts.

             

PROTEIN:  This is the most frequent misconception about giving up meat.  Everyone will say you’ll never get as much protein anywhere else, but this simply isn’t accurate.  Check out some great alternatives:

  • 1 cup of tempeh, has MORE protein than a 6 oz steak, a chicken breast or a can of tuna
  • 1 cup of chickpeas, kidney beans or black beans has twice as much protein as an egg
  • Hemp seed, pistachios and walnuts
  • Peach, cantaloupe and pineapple
  • Edamame, peas, mushroom, dandelion greens and cauliflower

 

ZINC:  Zinc helps maintain healthy skin and hair, as well as keep your immune system strong and balanced.  Choose the following foods to help:

  • Tahini (ground sesame found in hummus), Wheat germ and chocolate
  • Pumpkin, sunflower or watermelon seeds
  • Peanuts, cashews and pine nuts
  • Avocado, blackberries, pomegranates and raspberries
  • Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, corn and potatoes

 

CALCIUM: For those taking the absolute vegan route, individuals may become deficient in calcium and vitamin D without things like milk, cheese and other dairy products.  But these foods can help:

  • Soy milk or yogurt; vegan cheese substitutes
  • Oats, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds
  • Blackberries, grapefruit, dates and oranges
  • Bok Choy, butternut squash, broccoli, spinach

(Sunlight is always the best medicine for vitamin D!)

IRON:  Iron assists in blood formation and without the proper amount can lead to anemia or other blood cell issues.

  • Lentils, barley, quinoa, tofu, lima beans
  • Raisins, avocado, cherries and kiwis
  • Kale, leeks, turnip, Swiss chard and sweet potatoes
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