Diet trends come and go, but one we don’t think will be fading anytime soon is plant-based proteins. We understand if you’re already slightly confused by the difference between terms like vegetarian, vegan and paleo. So we reached out to Maria Marlowe, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and founder of EatSLIM and Eat BEAUTY, to talk about what exactly a plant-based diet looks like, and some easy ways to make the switch.
Plant-based protein is exactly what it sounds like — protein found in ingredients like nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas and vegetables. There are numerous health benefits, like fiber and various nutrients, that come from these proteins, Maria says, but it’s also proven that eating animal-products in moderation is good for your long-term health. A plant-based diet can lead to lower rates of heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and some cancer forms. “It is entirely possible to get all the protein you need on a plant-based diet,” Maria says.
Plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean vegan, though. Vegan means zero animal ingredients in a product, Maria says, but plant-based can mean a product or lifestyle without animal products but not 100 percent.
Easy Switches and Recipes
Maria recommends switching meat for whole food proteins — avoid highly processed plant proteins or protein isolates found in fake meat and plant protein powders, snacks and meal bars. “You ideally want to consume the protein in its whole form,” Maria says.
Meat to Beans
One cup of beans has 15 grams each of protein and fiber! Maria recommends eating chickpeas on a salad, three bean chili, or sautéed black beans with garlic.
Whey Protein Powder to Hemp Seeds
“For a smoothie, instead of whey protein powder, try three tablespoons of hemp seeds,” Maria says, “which offer an easy-to-digest complete protein, as well as omega 3 for anti-inflammatory benefits.”
To add to your diet
- A cup of lentils (try in a soup or salad)
- Nuts and seeds for your salad toppings
- Tahini sauce for your salad
And if you’re already eating green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, that’s three grams of protein per cup. Also always choose organic and fermented soy products like tempeh, she says, because they are generally easier to digest and are more nutritious.
Delicious Plant-Based Recipes
We had to ask for a few recommended recipes, and Maria gave us these from her website:
- Earth Day Green Veggie Bowl: With more protein than a steak, this bowl of chickpeas, peas, broccoli, kale and tahini is both beautiful and highly nutritious.
- Avocado Kale Salad with Chickpea Croutons: A easy meal to bring on the go, this salad is actually tastes better the next day — so meal-prep your heart out.
- Blueberry Protein Smoothie: This smoothie is perfect for after a workout, but this looks delicious enough to eat as a regular snack.
The beauty of a plant-based protein diet is that you don’t have to completely switch or take out all meat — by adding just a little more plant-based protein to your meals, you’re already eating healthier. If you have any favorite plant-based protein recipes, we’d love to try them! Tell us in the comments below.
You can find Maria at: