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Meat-free alternatives - yay or nay?

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I've started trying to eat healthier over the last few weeks - more veggies, watching my calories and macros. I was already eating relatively healthy before, but now I pay more attention as to what exactly I eat and how much.


I have been following a pescatarian diet since last year for moral reasons, and am lactose intolerant. However, from tracking my macros, it seems like I am not eating enough protein on a daily basis, especially on the days I work out. While I do eat fish occasionally, it is expensive, so that's not an everyday ingredient. I add beans/lentils/chickpeas to almost every meal asides from breakfast and eat a bunch of eggs too whenever I have them, but my protein intake seems to consistently fall about 25-50g below what's recommended by my nutrition tracking app (this recommended amount, by the way, is 103g before logging exercise), which I suppose I end up feeling as an insane amount of hunger/peckishness after my workout sessions.


I have been looking into things such as plant-based mince and falafels, which seem to offer more protein than beans per 100g and are still cheaper than buying fish (asides from stuff like sardines, of course, but I just can't stomach those) - but how healthy are they, would they even have a place in a healthy diet?


I am considering going back to eating meat, if there is a good reason, especially since it seems to be cheaper, but it would come with a sort of.... transition period that involves stomach problems, since I haven't eaten animal meat in months, so I'd probably need something else during that too. But, if it is feasible not to (on a budget), I'd prefer that.


Any other tips for the plant-based folks out here?


Thank you in advance!

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I can totally relate. I went from pescatarian (2-4yrs, ish) to vegan (10-12yrs), back into omnivore life - albeit my meat consumption is still very low. You might be interested in this plant-eating recipe thread.


That being said, one of the major reasons that I phased animal protein back into my diet is because it is VERY difficult to eat higher protein without also eating higher kcal on a plant-based diet. For a 200lb dude who needs 3,000kcal+ a day, that's not such an issue - but if your TDEE is under 2,000kcal a day, it's virtually impossible without supplements. I use whey protein powder heavily to supplement my daily protein intake; I would not be able to consume that much otherwise. Depending on your lactose intolerance a more refined whey (ie. isolate) MIGHT be ok for you, but otherwise there are plant-based protein powders that you may want to explore.


The mince & falafel that you mentioned aren't actually high protein, in terms of g protein/kcal - you'd be better off just eating a cup of beans. Nutritionally speaking they're fine (if not consumed in excess), but they might not fulfill the need you're looking for. If you're getting sick of legumes, you could explore sprouting - it takes the peas/lentils and turns them into microgreens (ish), for a change of taste/texture. Seitan is another versatile ingredient you could try, as long as you tolerate/digest gluten well.


At the end of the day, a lot will depend on your personal preference (as well as what food is available locally, and your budget) - experiment a bit, and see what works!

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I'm a vegetarian who eats mostly vegan. I also started keeping track of my calories and macros in the last few weeks, and I also initially had trouble hitting my protein goals (which are 180g/day). These are some of the things that have helped me:

1. Protein powder (to repeat Defining). I buy Sprouts vegan protein. In the largest size, it's a little over a dollar a serving for 20g of protein (120 calories total), so it's probably the most convenient option, but it isn't necessarily super cheap.

2. Huel Black. It's a meal replacement powder. It costs about twice as much as protein powder, but it's also about twice as much protein (39g) and also has a ton of other nutrients (because it's intended to be a meal replacement, not just a protein powder). Drinking a meal shake probably isn't for everyone, but it's a pretty good meeting place of price, convenience, and protein content. Also, anyone with a subscription can refer you, and you'll both save $15.
3. Soy products. Tofu is probably one of the cheapest vegan ways per gram to get protein, yeah? There are also a lot of ways to prepare it, so if you're haven't loved it in the past, maybe try a new method? Soy milk is also higher protein than most nut milks.

4. Meat analogues. I get vegan sausages and high protein vegan burgers. Both have around 20g of protein. Prices here can vary pretty wildly. I think there are plenty of reasonable options, but I don't know of any I'd call "cheap."

Disclaimer: I'm pretty new to this. Please take all of my advice with a grain of salt.

I hope this helps! If you come across any other good sources, please share!

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