‘Bland meal’ – This is what British Airways called my lunch.
I requested the vegetarian option, I nearly choked on my mash potato, tomato and carrot gloop when I read that, then felt gutted because the woman next to me got a fabulous looking tiramisu dessert and I got three slices of fruit, one was warm papaya, delicious or perhaps, not.
Being a Vegetarian is a minefield, not so much for the person, but others needing to understand why, when it seems completely fine to eat a Big Mac for breakfast – I won’t start on the ‘food’ there, but if I choose to eat meat or not, surely that is my decision affecting no one but me?
I was recently questioned “but if we all don’t eat meat, surely the animals will take over?” because that’s what happened before we mass farmed our meat, isn’t it? 50% of global antibiotics are used on animals that are packed in factories in such close quarters getting sick, with no exercise, air, life, green fields, etc. A startling statistic, considering that medicine then flows down into the meat that is eaten by you.
Personally, it was a gradual occurrence; referred to as a Pescatarian – someone who eats fish and seafood. This is because happily I would spend a day fishing and barbecuing my catch. However I could not kill a cow, chicken or pig, and lambs frolicking in the fields, well they are just too lovely.
It started as a New Year resolution, to be kind and compassionate with myself, dismissing that inner critic (you know the one) and encouraging students to do the same in yoga class. Eating meat became less and less appealing, but in no way do I enforce my beliefs, wear hemp or have dreadlocks. I began to practise non-violence, Ahimsa, which is the premise that all living beings have a spark of the divine, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. This is a belief of many religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.
The journey has been tricky. Acknowledging my low iron and low blood pressure, led me to discover a necessity to consider protein and iron daily or I will likely have an out of body light-headedness experience and flake out. On the plus side I feel better, lighter and my digestion is happy, to put it politely.
These foods are great sources or iron (to better absorb the iron, consume along with foods that provide vitamin C):
- Egg yolks
- Dark, leafy greens
- Dried fruit (especially prunes)
- Iron-enriched cereals and grains
- Beans, lentils, chick peas and soyabeans
It is now coming to light the benefits of plant-based diets to our hearts and a longer life, which essentially we all desire. In 2013 a news report claimed, “a vegetarian diet reduces heart disease risk by up to a third.” This was based on researchers who recruited nearly 45,000 people in Britain. They followed up with them for an average of 11 years, using hospital records and death certificates to determine how many of them developed coronary heart disease during that time and found, compared to people who ate meat and fish at the start of the study, the vegetarians were less likely to be diagnosed with, or die from, coronary heart disease over the following years.
Want to try?
Consider just one day a week getting your protein elsewhere; the recommended daily allowance for women is 45g and men 55g. For example, Greek yogurt contains the same protein as a three-ounce serving of lean meat, and with a handful of nuts you could get half of your daily protein intake at breakfast.
There are also many protein shakes available and vegan (no animal products) options; soya, hemp, and pea protein powers are all brilliant for a good protein hit, especially on the go.
10 Foods With the Highest Sources of Protein
Complete proteins contain nine amino acids that are crucial to human function and health, and are proteins we are unable to produce ourselves. Combining incomplete proteins will ensure your body gets all that it needs.
Spirulina is 65–71% complete protein compared to beef, which is only 22%.
Two tablespoons of Spirulina is enough as a protein substitute for a meal.
Seed, 6 g of protein per ounce.
Milk serving, 2 g of protein per cup.
Hemp products are sold as a dairy alternative, it is one plant protein that also supplies fatty acids to boost your immune system.
3. Chia Seeds
4 g of protein per ounce.
Though the protein content isn’t as high, chia seeds are an incredible fibre resource with nearly half (11 g) of the amount you need every day in a single ounce. Also, a serving is 18% of your daily calcium requirement, more than triple that of milk.
4. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)
185 g contains 8.14 g of protein.
Quinoa is perhaps one of the most perfect non-animal sources of protein on the planet, and completely gluten free.
One half-cup contains 15 g of protein.
Tempeh is a firmer, chewier cousin of tofu.
6. Almonds and Almond Butter
Between 6 – 8 gof protein, per handful.
Almond butter is less toxic and allergenic than peanut butter, although the protein amounts are similar.
7. Leafy Veggies
Any leafy greens will pack a protein punch. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams, French beans 13 grams and peas 9 grams.
8. Lentils and Beans
A cup of iron-rich lentils has 18 grams of protein, almost as much as three ounces of steak. One cup of chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein, as does a cup of black or kidney beans.
9. Organic, Plain, Greek Yogurt (not vegan)
15 to 20 g of protein per 6-ounce serving.
Dairy products are good sources of protein. A glass of milk provides you with 8 g, but Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse with twice the protein!
10. Eggs (not vegan)
Protein Content: 6 g per egg
The protein in eggs is the highest-quality protein found in any food. The high-quality protein in eggs provides the mental and physical energy families need for important days.
If you are still not convinced, reflect on this:
by Suzi Hall