When I first had a stab at being vegetarian in my 20s it was a disaster. I ended up anaemic, under nourished and ill. I was advised to return to eating poultry by my doctor, who, to be honest probably had no nutritional facts to back up his suggestion that poultry was the answer, but I duly did it.
I tried it again some years late with better results having educated myself on all things nutrition and immersing myself in book after book on wholefood plant based diets, vegetarian recipes and vegan foods. But I’m not sure I really knew what I was doing and I certainly had some fears that my diet was lacking a lot of basic nutrition.
If you are considering trying out a whole foods, plant based or vegan diet, you may have concerns about the dietary implications of giving up animal-based protein sources. I certainly did. We all know that protein facilitates the building, maintenance, and repair of tissues in the body so there is just concern over having insufficient amounts of this essential nutrient in our diets.
The reality is, protein is an important macronutrient, but it's actually pretty difficult not to get enough if you're eating a well rounded wholefoods, plant based diet like I advocate in my 30 days to healthy living plan. I recently read that the The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics issued a statement supporting this claim, saying “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
While it is believed that some proteins over stimulate the immune system and create inflammation vegan protein sources can be soothing and enable the digestive system, and in particular the gut, the window to our overall health, to heal.
So why do I eat Pea Protein:
I’m a big fan of pea protein. It’s a complete protein which provides all of the amino acids you need. It’s also the least allergenic form of protein, so you are unlikely to develop intolerance as you might with other proteins (gluten and dairy). I choose to stay well clear of Whey based protein as I’ve found it highly acidic and it upsets my stomach. I have many sports people who say the same. My favourite Pea Protein is Arbonne Protein Powder which comes in Vanilla and Chocolate flavour or Pure Protein Boost – a flavourless protein which is great for sweet or savoury dishes. I add it to smoothies, energy bars, pancakes and chilli etc
For me I’ve made a breakfast protein shake part of my life and simply use it as a weight maintenance and energy boosting tool. My morning shake really helps with my energy and keeps me full all morning no matter how much exercise I seem to cram in.
But there are other reasons to love Pea protein too! Did you know that pea protein also helps control cravings? So go on, give peas a chance!
And don't just go get any Pea based protein as sadly they are not all equal. The Arbonne protein is formulated without soy, whey, gluten or artificial sweeteners and has an amazing blend of cranberry, rice, and pea protein together making it so powerful for your body! It truly is the best thing around! And importantly the quality of the peas matters too. The Arbonne pea protein comes from Europe because of its safety, purity and quality!
Where else can you get plant based proteins?
Lentils and other legumes:
Some people tolerate them well; others experience inflammation, perhaps due to lectins or fermentation in the gut. I love chickpeas and hummus and lentils in salads or bakes. Experiment and see what’s true for you.
Especially flax, chia and sunflower. I use a lot of flax seed and even take an Omega 3 capsule which is made from flax seed as the fish oil Omega 3’s tended to repeat on me giving me a nasty fishy taste. Here’s my preferred Omega 3 tablet.
One of the most digestible forms of protein if you have gut issues. You can buy it in health food shops and use it in smoothies and energy bars as well as salad dressings as it mills to a creamy goo.
Almonds, Macadamia and Brazil nuts are my favourites. I tend to only eat organic peanuts and non GMO and cashews are definitely not or me as they make me quite bloated. Experiment with a variety of nuts and choose what you like best.
I avoid gluten and feel an elimination of gluten for 30 or more days helps your system to rest itself so that when you reintroduce it you can assess if you have a sensitivity to it or not. Read my blog about gluten sensitivity and join my 30 days to healthy living programme for a fully supported plan which enables you to cut out gluten, and other know allergens safely and without stress.
Finally a word on fibre
Eating sufficient fibre is an important part of stabilizing blood sugar and preventing insulin resistance or block. It’s an interesting fact that meat eaters consume half as much fibre as vegetarians. On average, omnivores eat 12 grams of fibre a day, and vegetarians consume 26 grams per day. The UK government guideline is that adults should consume 30g of fibre a day so most of us are getting less than half the daily amount. I add an odourless, flavourless fibre called Fibre Plus to my shakes and smoothies and each serving provides 12g of fibre thus providing almost half my daily amount.
So why not experiment with eating a healthy wholefood diets and cut out meat if you want to, replacing it with other sources of protein. I’d love to partner with you on your journey to improved health and nutrition so get in touch to chat through your specific needs and let me be your partner on the road to success.