Where do you get your protein? This is the question on the minds of meat-eaters conversing with vegans, vegetarians or people who consume a plant-based diet. This is a question that even professional athletes receive, from Ironman Triathletes, to body-builders, to NFL Football players.
Speaking of football, it is almost Superbowl time and many players are gearing up and looking to be in tip-top shape. Football is a grueling sport and football players need to keep up their weight and muscle strength. There shall be no pencil thin players on the field.
So what do some buff football players do to maintain their health? Eat a vegan or plant-based diet. Vegans do not eat any meat at all and avoid clothing and other products made from animal skin. A plant-based diet is less extreme. Those who engage in this kind of diet eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Some meat is allowed, such as grass fed beef, hormone free chicken and wild fish.
Arian Foster, running back for the Houston Texans is one such player who chose to go vegan though the latest news is that he now allows for some meat. Others, such as NFL player Tony Gonzales lost too much weight on a vegan diet but he now eats a plant-based diet, only consuming meat on occasion and that has worked out well for him. He has authored a book on plant-based eating called "The All-Pro Diet".
A common misconception is that protein equals meat. Most of us grew up on a heavily meat based diet and we were taught to believe that we need meat to survive. However, according to T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, there are much healthier ways to get our protein.
We all know that we can get protein from beans and nuts. What many of us don’t realize is that leafy greens such as kale and spinach are also a great way to get this essential nutrient. For example, a 100 calorie serving of kale contains 11 grams of protein, and 1 cup of spinach contains 5 grams of protein. In fact, we can consume up to 20 grams of protein if we eat two bunches of greens a day.
Not sure how to eat so many greens? Throw some into a blender and combine with fruit and your favorite smoothie ingredients!
We may not all be football players or professional athletes, but we can look to them as inspiration to include more plants and less meat in our diet.