In recent years there has been an increasing amount of awareness about the dangers of eating too much meat. In addition to that, people have also started to realize the effect of this on the environment. Therefore, it is no surprise that more and more people are becoming vegan and looking for alternate protein sources. While there are countless benefits of alternating your protein sources, here are our top 4!
Lots Of Nutrition
Alternating your protein sources is a great source of nutrition for you. Most of these alternate sources have various nutrients that you may not have gotten from your basic protein sources.
Take Algae, for example; it is a form of protein gaining popularity as sustainable meat and/or fish substitute. Algae is an excellent alternative protein source that has polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber. It is also among the few vegetable sources of vitamin B12 and iodine. In addition to that, algae are rich in bioactive peptides and antioxidants like sterols and carotenoids. This can help improve biological defenses in the body against inflammatory diseases.
Many other plant-based proteins such as Legumes and cereals combined can provide just as much protein as animal sources. In fact, they generally also contain more fiber and less saturated fat and cholesterol than meat.
Edible insects are popularly consumed in many parts of the world, such as parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. That being said, they are also making their way into the global market. These insects are a great protein source and have even been called a potential partial solution to the worldwide food crisis. Edible insects are great sources of protein and fat. They meet your essential amino acid requirements. To add to that, they are also rich in vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, and B vitamins, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Another advantage of alternating your protein sources is sustainability. Alternative sources of protein are much better for the environment in so many ways. Did you know that the production of meat protein itself emits more than 100 times over copper? This can pollute the soil and be harmful to plants and animals. Alternative sources of protein are so much more sustainable.
Let’s start with algae again. For starters, it can grow on biowaste without the use of fertilizers. It also has a higher yield per unit area as compared to other high-protein crops. Cultivating this crop leads to a lower carbon footprint as compared to meat. Some other plant-based proteins also have a lower carbon footprint and land use compared with animal rearing.
The same can be said for edible insects; they can grow on biowaste and even require less feed than livestock. Rearing them can also cut down greenhouse gas emissions.
Cultured meat, too, is sustainable. It doesn’t require much land and water for its production. In addition to that, it also decreases the need for livestock production. Therefore it decreases the burden of producing crops for feed.
A huge advantage when it comes to alternative sources of protein is their safety. Algae, when grown in a controlled environment, is safe to consume. The same goes for other plant-based proteins and edible insects. They are safe for consumption when grown in a controlled environment, one of their major benefits.
If you look at cultured meat, it is safe to consume and probably more so than other meat as food-borne diseases can be eliminated, and lesser antimicrobials are used in its production.
Better For Your Health
Alternate sources of proteins have different nutrients than your basic meat sources, and therefore they have different effects on your health. For instance, they can help decrease your chances of getting high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers such as ovarian and breast, and diverticular diseases. To add to that, eating less meat or no meat can actually increase your life expectancy by three to four years. They are lower in calories and a lot better for your heart!
People who get all of their protein from non-meat sources tend to have lower body weight than those who eat more meat, and therefore they have a lower risk of becoming obese.
Some Alternative Options:
- Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that have all the nine essential amino acids. It is also gluten-free and high in protein.
- Beans and legumes are a rich source of fiber and B vitamins. They are also the perfect replacement for meat as a source of vegetarian protein.
- Grains such as cornmeal, wheat berries, quinoa, teff, wild rice, millet, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, couscous, and buckwheat are high in protein.
- Non-dairy milk such as soy milk or almond milk is high in protein.
- Artichokes are one of the highest protein counts among vegetables.
- Spinach is also high in protein. One cup of it has about as much protein as a boiled egg while having half the calories.
- Tofu is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids you’re your body needs. In addition to that, it also contains fats, carbs, and a great variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Mushrooms contain 0.8g of protein per cup, which is more than the amount of protein found in most vegetables.
- Sun-dried tomatoes are high in protein and contain lycopene, which is an antioxidant that can decrease the risk of bladder and many cancers such as lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers. They also reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
- Nuts and nut butter such as almond, peanut, or cashew butter provide 3 to 4 grams of protein.
You now know all the benefits of alternating your protein sources. Not just are they better for your health and help you lose weight, but they are also better for the environment. There are many alternatives for protein sources so take your pick!