In a study published by Vegetarian Times, about 3.2 percent of people in the United States, or about 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian diet. Of those people, approximately 1 million follow a vegan diet, in which they do not consume any animal products. For people who choose to follow a vegetarian diet, it is a lifestyle choice in which they abstain from all meat, but can still consume animal products like milk, cheeses, and butter, for example.
The vegan lifestyle follows the principle that they are not allowed to consume or use anything that comes from animals. While there are many health benefits seen in following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it’s important not to enter either without proper information and education. You may have already noticed that vegetarians and vegans have eliminated a key element of their diet, meat. As it turns out, meat happens to be an important source of protein in the human diet, and protein is essential for humans to stay healthy. It’s important that you understand the role of protein in your diet, and know that if you choose the path of vegetarianism or veganism, you should look to other sources of protein to make up for what you don’t get through animal products.
A brief introduction to protein and why you need to eat it
Protein is an extremely important element of the human body. It is found in our DNA, all of our cells, bones, organs, and bodily fluids. That being said, protein is the second most important thing your body needs (the first being water, since your body is made up mostly of it). As an energy source, proteins provide the same amount as carbohydrates (4 calories per gram). It is important for cell repair, muscle growth, and the proper functioning of the human body. So you may be wondering exactly why you need to get enough protein in your diet. Really, how much damage could you cause if you don’t get the required daily amount? People suffering from protein deficiency may experience unhealthy weight loss, fatigue, and reduced endurance and performance capacity.
However, low protein intake is generally not a problem to worry about in the United States, because people get more than enough protein from the foods they eat every day. Even seasoned vegetarians and vegans don’t really need to worry about not getting enough protein in their diets, since they understand their diet and are aware of alternative sources, since they don’t consume animal products.
The main source of protein in the human diet would be animal products such as meat, milk, eggs and cheese. Two ounces of lean meat, fish, or poultry contains about 14 grams of protein. Veal, lamb, and beef are going to have the highest sources of protein you’ll find in the meat classes (DietaryFiberFood.com). For those of you who are vegetarians and vegans, this is of no consequence as you will not be getting your daily protein requirements from these sources. However, vegetarians can consume some animal products, such as eggs and milk. While these sources don’t contain the same levels of protein as meat, they are viable ways for vegetarians to meet their needs.
Another source of protein that vegetarians and vegans will likely turn to are beans, lentils, and soybeans. These options will give them the protein they need to keep their bodies running; however, beans, lentils, and soybeans do not contain the same amino acids found in animal products.
Vegetables, nuts, breads, and cereals are also sources of protein. While they do contain amounts of protein, it’s significantly less than what you’ll end up finding in items that even rank at the bottom of the meat/animal products category. A mix of sources from this group, as well as sources from the bean, lentil, and soy group, will help vegetarians and vegans achieve a well-balanced diet with sufficient protein.
There is another option that vegetarians can turn to when supplementing their diet. Liquid protein shots are a protein source containing 25 grams of protein per serving. Products, like those offered by Protica, contain this and can be taken up to three times a day, giving you more than enough quality protein.
How this helps people who are adopting a vegetarian lifestyle
Many people want to follow a vegetarian lifestyle. However, they fall into the trap of not knowing the right path to follow. They will try this way of life for a short period of time, only to conclude that it is too harsh and restrictive. They eliminate all sources of protein from their diet and find themselves hungry, tired and cranky.
A vegetarian diet, or even a vegan diet, does not mean that you will eliminate protein from your diet. This is not possible since you know that protein is vital for survival. Vegetarians and vegans should be on the lookout for alternative sources. If they choose to go with the liquid protein shots (at least vegetarians, anyway), they can be sure they’re fueling their bodies with quality protein that doesn’t come from the slaughter of animals.
Another great thing about this protein source is the portability of it. The small vials of liquid protein can be taken virtually anywhere. If a vegetarian goes out to dinner with friends, he can bring his liquid protein and drink it before or after going to the restaurant. This option is a must for vegetarians as it allows them the freedom “meat eaters” have and properly fuels their body. Plus, it doesn’t contain the same unhealthy fats found in animal products, and it wasn’t produced by killing animals. These are all things vegetarians look for when following this lifestyle, and liquid protein shots definitely fit the bill.