If you’ve ever considered introducing more plant proteins into your meals, you’re here at the right time! Not so long ago, things like tofu, veggie burgers, and plant-based milks were almost unheard of. Today, you can get the meat alternative Impossible Burger from Burger King. So why have vegetarian-based products become so popular? Growing research supporting the health benefits of replacing animal proteins with plant-based options has fueled the change. In addition to the sustainability benefits, plant-based diets have been linked to lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
You may have heard that plant proteins do not contain all of the essential amino acids that the body needs. It was thought that these “incomplete proteins” needed to be combined with other foods that contained the missing amino acids to “complete” the protein. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has issued a position statement clarifying that in a well-balanced, varied diet, there is no need to specifically combine foods as long as over the course of a few days, foods with different amino-acid profiles are consumed. The takeaway here is that as long as you’re consuming a varied diet, you don’t have to worrying about pairing the correct proteins.
If you’re considering swapping out animal proteins for more plant-based options, here are some substitutions:
Substitute whole food soy (tofu, tempeh) for animal proteins
Add beans or lentils to soups and casseroles in place of meats or poultry
Include nuts, nut butter or seeds like chia or flax each day
Experiment with plant-based milks like almond milk, coconut milk or hemp milk to see which you enjoy the most
Choose higher-protein grains such as quinoa
Still wondering how to incorporate plant proteins into your meals? Keep reading to see some examples.
Oatmeal with berries and nuts
100% whole wheat or sprouted bread with mashed avocado topped with chia or flaxseed
Garden salad topped with beans and sunflower seeds
Make a wrap using a whole wheat tortilla, fill with hummus and vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers
Whether you've decided to become a vegetarian or are simply looking for more variety in your meals, plant proteins are an affordable and versatile option for you and your family to enjoy! Learn more about vegetarian eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.