Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't worry, we aren't dying from lack of protein and iron...

One of the most common questions I get since i've stopped eating meat is "Aren't you concerned that you won't get enough protein and iron?".  That's the most common misconception about vegetarian and vegan diets.  Curious to find out some of the real facts about how much protein and iron I need in my diet, as well as how much of these nutrients are in non meat and dairy products, I decided to do some research.  I was definitely pleased at what I found!

Most vegetables, grains, and beans/legumes contain protein, and most contain iron.  This I already knew.  But how much?  Here are some facts about how much protein a person needs, as well as a list of foods and how much protein they contain.  As you can see, it's fairly easy to get enough protein as a vegetarian or vegan.  Also, remember that these vegetables, fruits, and legumes all contain other vital vitamins, minerals, fiber, and micro nutrients that the majority of meat and dairy sources do not!

But the most surprising facts I found were about iron however.  Here is information as well as a list of foods that contain the most iron.  Notice that the majority of the foods that contain the highest amount of iron are vegetables and grains, not meat or dairy!

After I read all of this I decided to calculate how much protein and iron I was getting in my daily diet.  My typical breakfast is old fashioned oats with a tablespoon of ground flax seeds (it adds omegas and fiber without adding any change in taste), and other various things to add some flavor.  This particular morning it was chocolate flavored Ovaltine and strawberry preserves.  When I calculated this breakfast contained 1/3 of the protein and iron I needed for the day!  Plus, I didn't even include the dark chocolate almond milk I drank with it, because most people wouldn't drink almond milk.  Fyi, almond milk contains more protein and iron than regular milk. 

So as you can see, us vegetarians and vegans aren't going to starve or die from malnutrition.  Like I said, it's a common misconception among meat lovers and skeptics.  Once again, it's all about eating healthier.  If you still want to eat your meat and dairy just make sure to do your homework and learn what healthy eating is.  And be sure to include more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains in your diet!  :-)

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