“Deficient” is a scary word and being “nutrient deficient” is a scary thing but don’t worry, if you do it right you won’t become protein deficient from not eating meat. There are many ways to meat your daily needs without ever having to eat an animal and that’s great (as I’m sure you’ve learned from the part-time vegetarian post). So if you’re thinking about limiting your intake of meat, how can you do it in a smart and easy way? Substitution of course!
A popular substitute is tofu. Tofu is great and because it has very little taste you can season it with basically anything you’d like and it’s amazing. If you’re going out to eat opt for a Thai restaurant, they’ll more than likely offer tofu instead of chicken or beef.
Another, less common, soy substitute is tempeh. I’m not sure on the availability of tempeh and have not been able to find it in grocery stores but if you ever see it on a menu, try it you might really like it. Tempeh is basically fermented soy beans put together in a patty like form. It’s denser than tofu and can feel more like you’re eating meat than it’s tofu counter part when seasoned correctly.
Quinoa. One word: quinoa. It’s the amazing grain that just happens to be a complete protein. It’s very easy to make (pretty similar to making rice) and goes well with other vegetables. This is a great option and one that I highly recommend.
The most basic and obvious substitute would be beans. They’re easy to make and high in protein and a really good option if you’re not interested in breaking the bank with the other more “high end” products I’ve mentioned above. There are so many ways to cook beans that it’ll take you a long time to get tired of them.
So there are many ways to round out that diet of yours and not all of them will break the banks. Switch it up, try things out and don’t rely too heavily on the soy options (soy has its own problems and I don’t recommend eating it every day due to high levels of estrogen which is not ideal for all of you men out there). The moral of the story is that you can get just as much nutritional value from vegetarian options, it’s probably cheaper to opt for beans for a night and you don’t need to worry about missing out on anything by giving up your steak at dinner.
Sasha Marie Helton