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Are plants the next hot proteins?

Are plants the next hot proteins?

It's an all-American Memorial Day scene: Dad's at the barbeque, grilling up large pieces of steak or burgers, while Mom's unwrapping pasta salads and veggies on the deck. According to research just published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the associations between meat and masculinity aren't likely to change anytime soon. And yet, as companies like Vega, the vegan sports-nutrition line, bring the power of plants into their brand message, you have to wonder if those assumptions may be shifting—at least a little bit.

There’s no doubt about it: Lots of people are eating less meat and scrutinizing protein sources more carefully these days. Whether you’re opting for organic animal products or switching from a red-meat-centric diet to more plant-based proteins, you’re participating in a healthy lifestyle shift—one that has so much going for it, it’s hard to ignore.

(Bored with burgers? For creative barbeque recipes for all diet types, download Delicious Living's free Healthy Grilling e-cookbook.)

As a lifelong vegetarian, I’m thrilled to see the uptick in culinary innovation and health studies supporting this change. In addition to lowering heart disease and cancer risk, new research suggests that eating a fiber-rich vegan or vegetarian diet protects against harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, because it optimizes the digestive tract’s pH, making it harder for bad bacteria to grow. Dining on plants also supports colonies of healthy bacteria, or probiotics, which increase immunity and further strengthen the digestive tract.

What about eating more protein to lose extra pounds or maintain a healthy weight? If you do eat meat, be sure to choose grass-fed and organic varieties, which offer more healthy fats and decrease your exposure to hormone-disrupting pesticides, artificial hormones, and other chemicals.

But I see no reason not to suggest that eliminating or reducing meat is a good choice when trying to lose weight; fiber from plant foods helps with satiety while improving overall health. Plus, with some truly exceptional vegan chefs out there (Ani Phyo and Alan Roettinger are two of Delicious Living’s favorites) and a plethora of new vegan goodies and convenience foods, protein-conscious eating has never been easier—or more delicious.

Please share with us! How do you pick your proteins? Answer below for a chance to have your response included in an upcoming issue of Delicious Living.

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