by Brittany Shutts
Cutting back on the meat in your diet can take your palate on the road to new gastronomic adventures and help the environment as well. According to Worldwatch, livestock and their byproducts account for 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Meat consumption in the United States, especially, is far from being sustainable. Studies show that the U.S. alone consumes almost 10 billion chickens, pigs, cows, and turkeys every year. The horrors of the livestock industry, the growth hormones, and the antibiotics are enough to kill even the heartiest appetite.
Going meatless just once a week will lower your risk of cancer, reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, lower body weight, and prevent long-term weight gain. Eating beans and peas will increase your intake of other important minerals, such as protein, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium. They contain less saturated fat and total fat.
Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters suggests upping the plants in your diet and paring back on eating animals to make a positive change in your health and the environment. Making a meatless meal doesn’t have to be complicated and it won’t burden your wallet. However, many people considering this healthy lifestyle change are unsure how to get enough protein. There are a number of protein rich foods that you can incorporate into your diet. You will also find that some fruits and vegetables you already know and love have a surprisingly high protein content.
Here is a list of protein-rich foods and how many grams of protein they contain:
Beans and Nuts
1 cup soybeans, 29 grams
1 cup lentils, 18 grams
1 cup refried beans, 15.5 grams
1 cup black beans, 15 grams
1 cup garbanzo beans, 14.5 grams
1 cup pinto beans, 12 grams
½ cup almonds, 8 grams
2 Tbs. peanut butter, 8 grams
1 cup yogurt, 13 grams
1 cup cottage cheese, 10 grams
1 oz. cheddar cheese, 7.1 grams
1 egg, 6 grams
Fruits and Vegetables
1 avocado, 10 grams
1 cup peas, 9 grams
1 cup broccoli, 5 grams
1 cup spinach, 5 grams
1 medium artichoke, 4 grams
1 cup asparagus, 5 grams
1 cup cooked quinoa, 9 grams
1 medium bagel, 9 grams
1 cup cooked spaghetti, 8 grams
1 cup oatmeal, 6 grams
2 slices of whole wheat bread, 5 grams
1 cup cooked brown rice, 5 grams
1 cup tempeh, 41 grams
3 oz. seitan, 31 grams
1 cup tofu, 22 grams
Although protein is an important nutrient, we seem to be disproportionally interested in eating as much protein as possible in the United States. Supermarkets often have a shelf devoted to varieties of protein bars, whey powder, and shake mixes. Despite concerns about deficiencies, getting protein in your diet can be as simple as a peanut butter sandwich or a handful of mixed nuts.
For easy recipes to incorporate some of these lovely legumes, nuts, and vegetables into your dinners, read Food Matters. Also, take a look at Mark Bittman’s website for more articles and recipes. Meatless Monday is also a great source of information for anyone looking to try just one meatless meal a week.
Image courtesy of www.mediabistro.com.