If you’re a vegan, you have probably been ridiculed by your parents and friends. Many non-vegetarians and non-vegans are often concerned that you won’t meet your dietary needs. In a society that consumes so much meat, it’s hard for people to wrap their head around a diet that is 100 percent plant-based.
A concern surrounding a protein deficiency is warranted, as a lack of protein in your diet can lead to serious health consequences. Every cell in the human body contains protein, so without it, you would not be able to repair muscle, produce enzymes, make hormones, develop bones, and maintain positive health.
If you have been thinking about following a vegan lifestyle, but aren’t sure whether or not it’s the best option in terms of your health, the following research will not only show you that vegan protein is good for you — but also that it’s generally much healthier than meat and dairy-based alternatives.
5 Reasons to Start Eating Vegan Protein
When it comes to protein, you generally want to consume ‘whole’ or ‘complete’ sources. This simply means that the protein source offers all nine essential amino acids — which need to be consumed through dietary sources, as the body cannot produce them. Some complete vegan options include, but are not limited to quinoa, beans, hemp and chia seeds.
Here’s why you should incorporate more of these protein sources into your diet today:
Reason #1: Less saturated fat
Meat and dairy are one of the top food sources when it comes to saturated fat. When you consume a diet high in saturated fats, you place your cholesterol and blood pressure at risk. In turn, your cardiovascular health pays the price, increasing the probability of a potential heart attack.
It’s highly recommended that you keep your intake of saturated fat as low as possible and since red meat can be replaced with beans in terms of protein, there’s no need to consume so much unnecessary fat. If you’d like to improve both your heart and overall health, increasing your intake of vegan protein sources can make a significant difference.
Reason #2: Enhanced digestion
Your digestive health is essential to your overall well-being and when you switch to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you tend to benefit from an increased intake of fiber. When digestion is poor, you will often feel fatigued and your immune system will not be functioning at an optimal level.
Although there are vegan alternatives to meat and cheese, it’s best to stick with whole food sources. More often than not, these alternatives have been heavily processed, which can actually negatively affect digestion. Focus on the basics — oats, quinoa, spinach, seeds, sprouts, and more.
Reason #3: Help the environment
Large-scale animal agriculture is a leading concern regarding key environmental issues. Industrial agriculture has taken an immense toll on the air and water, and is also a leading contributor of greenhouse gases. As stated in a review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s clear that a plant-based is far more sustainable.
Within the United States alone, 9 billion livestock are maintained in order to supply enough animal protein each year. In fact, the livestock population tends to outweigh the US human population by around 5 times. This has resulted in an immense amount of methane-waste, which has been shown to have lasting effects on global warming.
Reason #4: Higher nutritional intake
When consuming vegan protein, you not only obtain all the key essential amino acids your body needs, you also benefit from a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and more. Within one cup of oats, for instance, you will benefit from an incredible 26 grams of protein, 17 grams of fiber, as well a significant intake of calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6.
Reason #5: Cheaper
If you’re on a budget, you won’t believe the amazing vegan dishes you can make for far less than a meat-based recipe. Overall, quality meat and dairy tend to be more expensive than vegan food options. When you opt for vegan protein, you can save money, all while benefiting from organic products and produce.
Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy and to ensure long-term results, you need to break old habits and create new routines. Start by consuming two meatless meals a week, experimenting with new foods. From there, you’ll become more confident with vegan ingredients, making more and more nutrient-rich meals full of everything you body requires.