Protein. You have likely grown up eating meat with every meal because your parents wanted you to become big and strong. But do you really need to eat animal meat to get the right protein levels for power and strength? Well, ask any gorilla or racehorse and they’d say “No!” These strong, fast and powerful animals do not eat meat. What do they eat? Gorillas eat leafy greens, stems, bamboo shoots, and fruits. Horses eat mainly grass and hay, plus grains like oats and corn. These majestic mammals have incredible muscle strength, energy, and power. This suggests to me that it is possible for humans to have the same benefits of muscle strength by eating protein options that do not include meat from other mammals.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a vegan trying to convert you to veganism. I’m not a vegetarian either. I am a health coach that has studied dozens of dietary theories. And I well know that each body is different. What helps one person feel well and healthy may make another sick. So I like to suggest different healthier food options for people to consider eating for their optimal health. And they will find what they like best and what makes them feel well. Then they may tailor a new diet for themselves to obtain or maintain their best health.

If you’re wondering, my diet mainly consists of anti-inflammatory, whole foods, and supplements that help lower inflammation in my body, which has undergone a battle with a painful autoimmune condition. On occasion, I will eat meat, but it’s generally a small amount of meat and it’s infrequent. Also, the meat I choose is typically “clean” meaning it is from an animal that was grass-fed, non-GMO and never injected with hormones or antibiotics. You can read more about my health journey here: https://bewellwithjanel.com/about/

How much protein you need in a day is also very much an individual thing. It depends on factors like age, activity level, muscle mass, goals, current state of your health, what your sex is, etc. You see, it’s not one answer for everyone. And it is very likely to change throughout your lifetime. That’s why eating the same thing your entire life can be troubling to your health. I like to suggest that you consider smaller portions of meat when you do eat it. The portion of meat on your plate should be no larger than the size of your palm.

Besides the high cost of meat in our society, the downsides of eating too much animal meat are the health risks of obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. So lessening the amount of meat you consume will likely result in moving the needle on your health to a more desirable level.

Did you know that processing animal products results in a large carbon footprint in the world? In other words, it takes tremendous resources to process animal foods and our planet may suffer in the long term. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims that a family of four who gives up eating red meat for one meal each week for an entire year has the same impact on the environment as not driving their car for three months. Considering this, you may even wish to employ a Meatless Monday practice with your family. You would be doing something impactful for our planet. And you’ll discover new creative menu options as well as contributing to better health for yourself and the climate. Find out more about the EWG here: https://www.ewg.org/

I don’t want to leave you hanging! If you’re wondering what kinds of foods you can eat for good protein in your diet as an alternative to meat, here are some options for you:

  • GREENS such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, mustard greens, and collard greens.
  • LEGUMES such as edamame, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, and peas.
  • GRAINS such as quinoa, spelt, kamut, teff, amaranth, and bulgur.
  • NUTS such as almonds, pistachios, peanuts, pecans. walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and macadamia.
  • SEEDS such as hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, sesame, and chia.
  • DAIRY such as cottage cheese, eggs, and yogurt.

I hope this gives you some food for thought (pardon the pun!) about meatless, protein-rich foods to try. I encourage you to experiment with new recipes to see how your body responds and how your pocketbook fares as well. If it’s useful, here is a link with meatless recipes that are high in protein. https://www.buzzfeed.com/deenashanker/meals-with-tons-of-protein-and-no-meat

Wishing you healthy eating!

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