Being vegetarian is nowadays pretty “cool”. Being vegan is even more popular. I stopped eating meat some years back but I am neither of these two, and I don’t consider myself pescetarian either. I don’t think I belong to any group but even if I do it does not matter so much. What matters is my experience and how I decided to do something about the things that depended, on me, foodwise.
Since an early age I was never a big meat lover. I remember my mum trying hard to persuade me to finish my food that had meat in it. I would unwillingly finish it (sometimes not) and after that I felt weird. But I was too young to know what is good or bad for me and my body and maybe in that stage of my life, meat was good for me since I was growing up and my body was developing fast. So it probably needed a lot of proteins that meat had. And my mum believed it was the best for me. And I was too young to experiment with food, so I ate what was served.
Later on, during my teenage years, I ate meat sometimes, but every time I had a meat dish, I had a “heavy” feeling in my stomach and my digestion was poor. But I kept ignoring it. I was not sick but I realized that my metabolism didn’t want and didn’t need meat. Besides, it seemed that my metabolism was slow when I was eating meat. In addition, I felt fine when I was eating fish and I liked it and I still do. Fish is also meat, therefore, I don’t have to worry about lack of proteins. And also, there are many other protein alternatives to meat. Therefore, I decided to give it a try. I stopped eating meat and I felt totally fine. Whatsoever, I started feeling much better than when I was eating meat. If you ask me what my daily meals consist of, I must say almost everything except meat. But to help you with the protein intake I will mention my favourite protein alternatives to meat.
Tempeh is made of fermented soy beans. It contains a lot of proteins and fibre. It tastes pretty bland on its own but if you marinate it in sauces and spices before or after you cook it, it can be very tasty.
2. Any kind of beans
It does not matter if those are chickpeas, kidney beans, Great Northern beans or some others, in general, all types of beans are an amazing source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. There are so many bean recipes and you can try every day a different one. You can add them to the veggie stew, soup or wrap and if your favourite beans are chickpeas, you can also grind them up, add parsley and mint and make your own falafel.
Hummus is a creamy thick spread made of mashed chickpeas or some other beans and other ingredients such as pepper, eggplant, mint, parsley etc. Hummus is rich in protein and it boosts your energy. And not to mention how delicious it is.
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are full of proteins but they are also high in calories (high in fat, low in water), so it is definitely not recommended to eat large quantities. Maybe the best would be to limit your nuts/seeds intake to one third-cup of nuts/seeds per day. They are amazing source of plant-based protein though, so it is good to add them to your healthy fruit bowl, cookies, cakes.
I am a cheese lover and for me cheese is a delicious food. It is also very versatile. You can add it to pizza, pasta, make a cheese cakes, cheese cookies, cheese bread and so on. It is not only rich in protein but also other nutrients such as calcium, zinc, vitamins.
Eggs might not be on the top of my list but they are very important in your every day diet and they are one of the most nutritious foods. They are also versatile ingredients for cooking so if you are not keen on eating plain eggs, you might have them in your cakes, cookies, pies, bread, etc.
It is only my list and my favourites. But there are many other protein rich ingredients that can be a great addition to your meals, broccolis, tofu, milk…And don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to persuade you to stop eating meat. No way! We are all different and our metabolisms are working in their own way. But if you are not satisfied with how you feel after your regular meals, or if you notice that some types of food make your stomach bloated, cause a “heavy” feeling, allergies, rash, don’t ignore these signs. Try to change something in your daily diet. It might be just one ingredient in your food that causes troubles and it is almost certain that you will find an appropriate alternative to it.