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List: Posted: 01/09/12
So you have decided to put down that juicy burger and opt for something more healthy; both for your waistline and for the planet. Good for you!
Why Give Up Meat?
There are many reasons why someone chooses to give up eating meat. Trying to lower your cholesterol and intake of saturated fat is one reason. Based on the carbon emissions tested on factory farms, trying to be more Eco-friendly and lower toxic gases in our air supply could be another one. You may also find yourself wanting to contribute to a more ethical treatment of land and sea animals.
Whatever the reason for ditching the meat from your diet, finding a tasty and healthy substitute for meat can be quite the challenge. Eating a diet low in protein is not an option, since your body requires protein to maintain healthy muscle mass. Children and teenagers, as well as pregnant mothers, all need a strong source of protein in their diets. The good news is that you can find ways to replace meat in your diet with healthy and tasty food.
Here are five meat substitutes that can supply your protein needs when eaten alone, or in combination with other protein sources.
Soy products have been replacing meat products for centuries around the world in vegetarian based cultures. Soy products include tofu, tempeh and soy milk which is used to make non-dairy soy yogurt, soy ice cream and soy cheese. Tofu is a popular ingredient substituted in many traditional meat based recipes, such as tofu burgers, tofu tacos and tofu turkey.
In terms of texture, seitan is one of the best options for replacing meat in your diet. However, it is not gluten free. In fact, it is often referred to as simply wheat gluten or wheat meat. If you are allergic to gluten or wheat products, you need to find your protein source elsewhere.
Legumes are packed with magnesium, iron and protein, all of which commonly come from meats. Add beans, lentils and other legumes to your diet through soups or as additions to salads, and you will have reached an adequate supply of daily protein.
Nuts are loaded with protein, but they also have a lot of fat, so eater beware. The best nuts for protein are almonds, walnuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds. Peanut butter or almond butter spread on toast or fruit are also excellent sources of protein.
Mushrooms have been touted as meat for vegetarians because of their meaty texture and taste. However, do not depend on mushrooms for your protein intake. They contain very little protein in comparison to soy, legumes and nuts. But a grilled portobello mushroom burger can satisfy even a die-hard meat fan.
There is no reason to not get adequate protein if you are following a vegetarian or vegan food diet. You can substitute the meat in your food and still get the nutrition your body needs, and get all the health an humanitarian benefits of following a plant based diet.
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