In a study released by the Vegetarian Times, approximately 3.2 percent of the people in the United States, or roughly 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian diet. Of those people, approximately 1 million follow a vegan diet, where they consume no animal products whatsoever. For persons choosing to follow a vegetarian diet, it is a lifestyle choice where they abstain from all meat, but can still consume animal products such as milk, cheeses, and butter, for example.
The vegan lifestyle follows the principle that precludes them from consuming or wearing anything that comes from animals. While there are many health benefits seen by following either a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it is important not to enter into either without the proper information and education. You have already noticed that vegetarians and vegans have eliminated a key element from their diet, namely meat. Meat, as it turns out, just happens to be a major source of protein in the human diet and protein is essential for humans to remain healthy. It is important that you understand the role of protein in your diet and know that should you choose the path of vegetarianism or veganism that you need to look for other sources of protein to account for what you are not getting via animal products.
A Brief Introduction to Protein and Why You Need to Consume 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 said, protein is the second most important thing that you need in your body (the first being water, as your body is made mostly of it). As an energy source, protein provides the same amount as carbohydrates (4 calories per gram). It is important for cell repair, muscle growth and the proper function of the human body. So you might be wondering exactly why you need to get enough protein in your diet? Really, how much damage could be caused should you not get your daily required amount? People suffering from protein deficiency could experience unhealthy weight loss, fatigue and reduced performance ability and endurance.
Under consumption of protein generally isn’t a problem that we need to worry about in America though, because people get more than enough protein from the foods that they consume each day. Even seasoned vegetarians and vegans don’t really need to worry about not getting enough protein in their diets as they understand their diet and know alternative sources since they aren’t consuming animal products.
Sources of Protein
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 roughly 14 grams of protein. Veal, lamb and beef are going to have the highest sources of protein that you will find in the meat classes (DietaryFiberFood.com). For those of you who are vegetarians and vegans, this is of no consequence since you will not be obtaining your daily protein requirements from these sources. However, vegetarians can consume some animal products, such as eggs and milk. While these sources do not contain the same levels of protein that meat does, they are viable ways for vegetarians to meet their needs.
Another source of protein that vegetarians and vegans will most likely turn to is beans, lentils and soy. These options will give them the protein that they need for their bodies to function; however, beans, lentils and soy do not contain the same amino acids that are found in animal products.
Vegetables, nuts, breads and cereals are sources of protein as well. While they do contain amounts of protein, it is significantly less than you will wind up finding in items that are even ranking toward the bottom of the meat/animal products category. A mixture of sources from this group as well as sources from the bean, lentil and soy group will help vegetarians and vegans to make up a well-balanced diet with a sufficient amount of protein.
There is another option for vegetarians to turn to when supplementing their diet. Liquid protein shots are a source of protein that contain 25 grams of protein per serving. Products, like the ones available from Protica, contain this and can be taken up to three times a day, which will give you more than enough quality protein.
How This Helps People Who are Turning to a Vegetarian Lifestyle
Many people want to follow a vegetarian lifestyle. However, they fall into the pitfalls of not knowing the proper path to follow. They will try this way of life for a short period of time, only to come to the conclusion that it is too tough and restrictive. They cut all of the sources of protein from their diet and find themselves feeling hungry, tired and cranky.
A vegetarian diet, or even vegan diet for that matter, does not mean that you will be eliminating protein from your diet. This is not possible as you know that protein is vital for survival. Vegetarians and vegans must keep their eyes open for alternative sources. Should they choose to go with the liquid protein shots (at least vegetarians, anyway), they can rest assured that they are fueling their body with quality protein that didn’t come from the slaughter of animals.
Another great thing about this source of protein is the portability of it. The small vials of liquid protein can be taken virtually any place. Should a vegetarian find his or herself going out for dinner with friends, they can take their liquid protein with them and drink it before or after going to the restaurant. This option is a must for vegetarians as it allows them the freedom that “meat eaters” have and adequately fuels their body. Plus, it doesn’t contain the same unhealthy fats found in animal products and wasn’t produced by killing animals. These are all things that vegetarians look for when following this lifestyle and liquid protein shots definitely meet the requirements.