Monday, August 12, 2013

Protein and Iron for a Quasi-Vegetarian

The reduction in meat consumption has been going really well.  I consider myself a quasi-vegetarian - I don't eat a lot of meat but nothing is off limits. If I go to someone's house I'll happily eat whatever they have cooked for me.  If we go to a restaurant, I will order a vegetarian option or fish (in that order), but if there isn't anything but meat, I am not going to sweat it.  Kevin still cooks it and I won't waste what we already have. That said, I'm probably eating meat only once or twice a week (much less than before when it was daily or even every meal). Kevin is eating a bit more since he orders it when we go out and I leave our meat based leftovers for him, because I know he likes it more (besides, peanut butter and jelly is vegan).

It feels like a really good (and maintainable) balance.  And it has led to some really good meals with more variety than we were eating before.

Although now that days go by without eating meat, I need to pay more attention to protein, iron, and B vitamins.

B vitamins: I started taking a multivitamin that has 100% of the B vitamins I need. I also started taking a calcium + D to make sure I get enough for my bones.

Iron:   The types of foods that I am eating (beans, whole grains, vegetables) are all good sources of iron.  The issue is that they contain non-heme iron and are not as well absorbed as heme iron (the types found in meat).  So I started taking a separate iron vitamin.  The iron has "335%" of the iron I need in a day so I cut it in half - since you can only absorb so much at a time.  I take the vitamins 2x a day:

I now have a pill line up to match Roxy's. I don't need to wrap mine in cheese - although the gummy multivitamin is like a little treat all on its own.

Protein: While doing some research, I found No Meat Athlete, by a vegan blogger who runs ultramarathons.  He has some really good posts about what you need to eat to fuel your runs and how to make sure you are getting enough of what you need. Based on his advice, my weight and the fact that I am pretty active, I need about 62 grams of protein a day.  I haven't actually gone through and counted up what my protein intake is a day but I have started making sure that I have a protein source at every meal.  As well as grains and vegetables.

So it may be tofu, asapargus and risotto.

Or beans with rice and vegetables.
Or a veggie burger with grains and beans.

For lunches I usually do leftovers, peanut butter and jelly, or eggs on toast.  For breakfast I usually do cereal with milk or oatmeal (which actually has a lot of protein in and of itself).  Overall it is not hard at all to get enough protein.  I feel great and I don't have any of the symptoms of protein deficiency. It may just be my new way of life.

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