Last week, I limited myself to seafood & plant based sources of protein. During that time I discovered that lentils are a great source of protein and I’m happy to say that they are now a regular part of my diet. Removing land-based animal protein from my diet was relatively easy, but I prefer the variety I’m allowed in a non-discriminatory omnivore diet. However, the number and quality of protein choices at my local supermarket isn’t exactly impressive. That is why I was one happy camper when my parents visited last week and brought a cooler full of wild game meat with them. Several pounds of both venison sausage and Canadian Goose breast all obtained and processed at my family farm in Maryland. Not only is wild game meat generally more nutritious than commercially raised livestock, but possessing the knowledge of where that animal lived, what it eat, and who processed it makes wild game meat my preferred form of protein.
This weekend, I participated in a tradition that according to Michael Pollan’s book Cooked connected me with some of our earliest human ancestors. That’s right, I did some grilling. I grilled/smoked some pork ribs to be more exact. As pleasurable as that experience was, it made me realize that lately I’ve been relying heavily on animal products as my primary sources of protein. I frequently proclaim my identity as an omnivore, but the recent lack of diversity in my protein sources may be hindering my ability to be a more proficient omnivore. With that said, I decided to follow a pescetarian diet this week. Yes, I know that seafood is still animal protein, but limiting my animal protein to one category forced me to discover alternative sources of protein. I could have bought a bunch of canned tuna and salmon, but that would have negated the idea of adding diversity to my diet (not to mention the price of quality canned products). I decided to do some research into plant-based protein sources and discovered that lentils are a great source of protein and provide several other essential macro & micronutrients. I picked up a 16 oz bag of green lentils from Trader Joe’s for less than $3. The bag contained 9 servings, each of which contained 12 grams of protein. That’s only 2 less grams of protein than the 2 oz can of tuna fish I picked up that same day. Lentils are not a complete protein (meaning they are lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids) but you can pair them with another food like nuts and/or seeds to make them complete.
I don’t plan on giving up animal products anytime soon, but discovering new sources of protein helps me reach my goal of adding diversity to my diet. What are your favorite plant-based protein sources? Got any tasty protein-pack vegetarian recipes?