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Plant-based Proteins
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Sarah Ondrish

Written by Sarah Ondrish, a UNC dietetic intern currently at Carolina Meadows for her food service management rotation.

What are plant-based proteins?

Plant-based proteins are proteins that come from plant sources rather than animal sources.

When utilizing plants as your main source of protein in a meal, variety is key! Mix and match different sources of plant-based proteins to get all the important nutrients your body needs.

Consuming more plant-based proteins does not mean that you need to cut out animal proteins all together! Try substituting in a plant-based protein for at least one of your meals.

Examples of plant-based proteins

  • Soy products: tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk
  • Lentils
  • Beans: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), black beans
  • Seitan: a meat substitute made from gluten, the main protein found in wheat
  • Nuts: peanuts, almonds, nut butters
  • Quinoa
  • Seeds: chia seeds, hemp seeds
  • Protein-rich veggies: broccoli, kale, mushrooms, potatoes, asparagus, Brussels sproutsĀ 
  • Oats/oatmeal
  • Whole grain breads
    • To identify breads higher in protein, find the nutrition facts label & look for breads with 4 or more grams of protein per serving.

*Look for the vegetarian dishes on the Club Center on the menu!

Health benefits of plant-based proteins

  • Eating more plant foods may be able to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
  • Plant-based proteins are packed with important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Sustainable eating with plant-based proteins

  • Reduce deforestation.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissionsā€”meat production is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Plants require less water, food, land, and energy for growing and transporting compared to livestock.

Recipes

Breakfast:

Lunch and Dinner:

Pesto Pasta
Roasted BBQ Tofu
Black Bean Chili

Additional Recipes

References:

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/special-reports/the-power-of-plant-based-proteins/

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-does-plant-forward-eating-benefit-your-health

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321474#plant-vs-animal-protein

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians#TOC_TITLE_HDR_19

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/06/17/5-tips-for-sustainable-eating/

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