More than a third of consumers in the United States is moving towards a plant-based diet. Bookstore shelves are full of books with recipes and suggestions on how to incorporate more plant-based ingredients into one’s diet.
Why is there a sudden interest? Because studies prove that a plant-based diet prevents the onset of advanced-stage cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Aside from that, it even claims to reverse these diseases.
However, not everyone can quickly adapt to a plant-based diet. All diets require planning, discipline, effort, and an open mind. An easy way to start is by using a vegan protein powder and mix it in water or non-dairy milk or use it with smoothies, oatmeal, or cereal products.
What Exactly is a Plant-based Diet?
A plant-based diet consists mostly of food derived from plants. Mainstays of this diet are vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains. The recipes use very minimal animal products.
Since there is almost no intake of meat, beginners are concerned about not getting enough protein. Nutritionists recommend the following plant products to meet one’s protein requirements:
- Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Beans with rice
- Dark, leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, and mushrooms
- Ezekiel bread
While including these protein-rich plants in one’s meal plans is doable, an effortless way of getting protein is through the use of vegan protein powder.
The best protein powders in the market contain protein coming from peas, hemp, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, soy, sunflower seeds, sacha inchi, and chia. These include most of the plant sources in the list above.
How Much Protein is Necessary?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that vegetarian, including vegan, diets are suitable for all stages in a person’s life cycle – from infancy, childhood and adolescence to pregnancy, lactation, and older adulthood.
Athletes and bodybuilders, who need more muscle strength, need to incorporate additional protein in their diets.
Some people, however, manifest symptoms of protein deficiency.
- Edema, having swollen and puffy skin
- Fatty liver, common in obese people and those who consume high doses of alcohol
- Skin redness and patches of depigmentation
- Thinning hair
- Hair loss, alopecia
- Brittle nails
- Loss of muscle mass, common in the elderly
- Bone fractures, with postmenopausal women at high risk
- Stunted growth in children
- Increase in severity of infections
One’s protein requirement will depend on factors like body weight, age, muscle mass, and level of physical activity.
The recommended daily allowance is 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight (or 0.8 grams per kg). Another way to compute is by using the online protein calculator.
How Does One Start a Plant-based Diet?
Take the first step by including vegan protein powder in your drinks and breakfast. Eventually, one will get used to the taste. Next, pick a few plant-based meals that are similar to your favorites. Include these recipes to your weekly meal plan.
Then, decrease the proportion of meat and processed foods from your plate. Replace with more plant-based items. Another good idea is to educate yourself on nutrition. Consult a plant-based registered dietician who will suggest alternative ingredients to your favorite meals. Then, visit the grocery and start to stock up on healthy food.
Acquiring new habits takes time. Leave visual reminders of your motivation. If one is committed to change, any goal is achievable.