Meat-Free Protein Alternatives
Protein is a vital part of any balanced diet. However, only some people prefer to take meat as a source of protein, either due to personal choices or food allergies and intolerances. Research has shown that one can partake in a meat-free diet and still get sufficient protein while relying on a plant-based diet.
When taken in moderation, meat can be an excellent part of a diet, providing proteins and nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12, and iron. However, there are better alternatives to rely on. Studies have shown that red meat may increase the risk of diseases like diabetes.
Meat comes in various forms. The main two categories are red and white meat. However, more importantly, red meat can take many forms, some of which aren’t healthy. On the other hand, processed meats aren’t considered healthy due to the amount of salt, fats, and chemicals added during the processing methods.
You’ll find that unprocessed meat can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet when taken in moderation. The NHS advises not to take more than 70g of red meat daily if you’re on a meat diet.
Meat allergies and intolerances
There have been growing cases of meat allergies and intolerances in recent years. In the United States, there were 34000 confirmed cases of red meat allergies in 2021. In the southeastern united states, there was a 32% increase in cases of meat allergy.
Most cases of meat allergy in the united states result from a bite from a lone star tick bite. A bite from this tick transfers a sugar molecule known as alpha-gal into the body. While some people don’t get affected by this, in others, it triggers the body’s immune system causing an allergic reaction ranging from mild to severe every time one consumes meat.
This allergic reaction only occurs when one consumes red meats like beef, pork, lamb and products from mammals like dairy and eggs. This Lone Star tick is often found in the southeastern united states. This kind of meat allergy is also known as alpha-gal syndrome.
More cases of these conditions have been reported in East, south, and Central America. Animals like deer carry the tick further into other parts of the country. Different types of ticks carry alpha-gal molecules in other parts of the world. More people have been diagnosed in Australia, Europe, Asia, south africa, and South and Central America.
On the other hand, meat intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to break down meat or the body’s sensitivity to meat. This means the body can produce insufficient enzymes to break down the protein in meat, or your digestive tract is sensitive to this protein.
Either way, meat intolerance often causes internal symptoms because of the lack of digestion of the product. These symptoms appear hours to days after consuming meat and only stop once you pass the meat.
While meat allergy can result from causes other than the tick bite, very few cases are caused by different reasons. But either way, meat allergy causes an immune system response to ingesting meat, similar to when there is a bacteria or virus in the body.
When your immune system attacks like this, it causes many symptoms and can even cause life-threatening symptoms. If you suffer from symptoms every time you consume meat, it’s necessary to know whether you have an allergy or intolerance to meat using an Allergy and Intolerance Test.
Meat-free protein alternatives
Various plant-based protein alternatives can replace meat in your diet. These protein alternatives vary in the quantity of protein they provide, and you can pick them according to what you prefer or your daily protein needs. A meatless diet will help you reduce the risk of chronic diseases, lose weight, and lower cancer risk.
These can be used in various diets, including salads, stews, and soups. One cup of lentils packs up around 18 grams of protein. They also contain lots of fiber, with one cup providing over half the fiber you need daily.
The fiber that lentils pack also feeds good gut bacteria, promoting a healthy gut. They also help you manage weight. Control blood sugar, and reduce chances of certain cancers and diabetes. Lentils also contain folate, manganese, and iron. They also contain loads of antioxidants.
Tofu, tempeh, and edamame originate from soybeans. Soybeans are a whole source of protein because they provide your body with all the essential amino acids. Edamame are immature soybeans that must be steamed or boiled before being added to salads.
Tofu is created from pressed bean curds, while tempeh is made by cooking, fermenting then pressing together mature soybeans. While tempeh has a nutty flavor, tofu doesn’t have a taste but absorbs the flavor of the ingredients it’s cooked with.
All these soybeans variations contain around 12-20 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. They’re also rich in iron and calcium.
This closely resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked. It’s made from gluten which is the main protein in wheat. It contains around 25 grams of protein per 100 grams. It’s one of the richest plant sources of protein.
It’s also a good source of selenium and contains minimal amounts of phosphorus, calcium, and iron. Even though it’s such a great source of protein, those with gluten intolerance ought to avoid it, or they risk suffering from intolerance symptoms.
There are many varieties of beans available worldwide. Chickpeas are a type of bean containing the highest amounts of protein. Most bean types include around 15 grams of protein per cooked cup. Beans are rich in nutrients and fiber, boosting your body’s health.
Spelt and teff
These two provide 10-11 grams of protein per cooked cup. These are also perfect alternatives for grains like wheat and rice. If you’re gluten intolerant, it’s wise to avoid spelt as it contains gluten. Teff, on the other hand, doesn’t contains gluten.
This contains a cheesy flavor making it a popular ingredient in pasta dishes. Sixteen grams of nutritional yeast contains 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. When purchasing nutritional yeast, ensure you pick the fortified one.
When pursuing a meat-free diet, you must ensure you get all the nutrients missing from your diet. Protein is an important part of a healthy diet that you need in a meat-free diet. The above alternatives will help you come up with a balanced diet. If you get any symptoms every time you eat meat, you must get to the root of your problem by taking an Allergy and Intolerance Test. If you find out you have an allergy or intolerance to meat, it’s best to avoid it in your diet.