As you know, I’ve been mostly vego/vegan for a few months now and am feeling really good for it. I’m exceeding my daily quota for vegetables and have found some amazing recipes that aren’t heavy in coconut milk or fats.
But, one thing has continued to flummox me. Yes, I’m flummoxed! And that’s getting the right amount of protein in each meal. Vegetables are brilliant, but mostly fibre and nutrients, not protein. I’ve explored a few “fake meat” options. One was amazing in a vegan korma I did on the weekend. But it’s a soy-based product, and I am trying to limit the volume of soy I consume. It just doesn’t make me feel great.
I’m not a nutritionist, but my understanding of protein is that it’s the building block of our bodies. It is to build and repair tissues – muscles, bones, skin and even blood. Animal meat, ie beef, chicken, pork, fish, lamb etc, is an outstanding source of protein. Unlike carbs and fat, the body doesn’t store protein which is why it’s important to have the right amount every day. In addition to avoiding animal protein, I’m also going to the gym a lot more than in my carnivorous days. That means my body needs even more protein than previously. A few calculations online show I need 133g of protein daily. Without a steak or piece of chicken to chew on, that’s quite a challenge with a plant-based diet.
So I’ve tweaked my diet a little. I’m having salmon once or twice a week to get a god hit of animal protein. I’m snacking on nuts and making sure my main meals contain chickpeas, quinoa or lentils, which are all good vegetable sources of protein. I’m reducing my tofu and tempeh intake, because they’re both soy-based proteins. And I’m having a spoon or two of home-made yoghurt most days.
I’ve also been eating a boiled egg or two each day, as that’s a tasty and easy way to get a hit of protein. I know eggs are animal products, but I’d prefer to have an egg to, say, a steak because it’s easier to digest.
I haven’t cracked the protein challenge just yet, but I feel I’m getting closer.
Side note: The picture with this post was taken on top of Mount Sonder, which I hiked up at 3am on my Larapinta trip. It was damn cold, as you can tell from the glove on my hand, but by the time we got down by mid-morning, I had shed most of my layers. Oh, and the guides treated us to hot coffee and boiled eggs with these cutes phrases written on them to enjoy while we saw the sun rise over the outback landscape which was absolutely breathtaking.