Guide to Healthy Protein Sources

Guide to healthy protein sources

Since I tackled the major hurtle of FAT, I figured protein sources would be a good topic to attack next. Second to fat, poor protein is one of the most misunderstood and falsely condemned sources of nourishment. Most “experts” in society consider protein one of those necessary but very limited food groups. Obviously, protein can be obtained from a large variety of foods, so rolling it all together can be troublesome. While meat is the logical first thought for most when it come to protein, modern society likes to tell us that we can get equally good nourishment from soy (cringe). Other sources tell us that it is preferable to get protein from a powdered concoction of dried whey and chemicals. Others (like Atkins) say that meat, meat, and only meat are the only acceptable sources of protein and that all carbs were created bad.

Proteins, on a strictly molecular level, are made up of amino acids in a linear chain. The sequence of amino acids in a protein molecule is defined my the sequence of the gene for that protein. There are 20 standard amino acids specified by the genetic code, though proteins can work together for certain functions and form complex proteins. Proteins are absolutely essential to every cell function within our bodies, many as enzymes that are catalyst for metabolic reactions.

While many plants and microorganisms can create all 20 proteins in house, but animals (including us) must get some of them from diet. The proteins we can’t create ourselves and must get from diet are called essential amino acids. We obtain these amino acids from different types of proteins in our diet. Through digestion, proteins are broken down for use in all parts of the body. Protein can be broken down into glucose if the body is in need of it, but it is the least preferable source of fuel for energy as it difficult to convert (unlike carbohydrates). This is also the reason that contrary to popular “wisdom” we don’t need to eat constantly to “keep our metabolism burning” so we don’t “cannibalize muscle.” The body naturally uses other forms of fuel first, breaking down muscle last. That being said, a long-term, low-fat, restricted calorie diet will lead to muscle burning.

The human body needs a diet that contains adequate amounts of proteins from the right sources (we will get to this in a minute). This is the reason a vegetarian diet can (not always) cause problems within the body. (Vegetarian diets, in general, also tend to be higher in carbohydrates and lower in fats, and both of these factors contribute to the potential problems with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle).

Adequate protein is absolutely vital, especially in growing children, as the body uses it for:

  • Immune function and support
  • Building of cell membranes
  • Cell and tissue creation and repair
  • Transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
  • Producing hormones and enzymes

Complete proteins are high-quality proteins that contain the essential amino acids we need for basic body function. These proteins are more easily absorbed by the body and are found in meats, eggs, fish, poultry and dairy.

Incomplete proteins are a lower quality protein that do not contain all the necessary amino acids. These are found in grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

If you’ve been around my blog much, you know my feeling on grains and high carbohydrate foods. Animal-based proteins are superior proteins anyway, and should be a substantial part of a healthy diet. That being said, not all animals are created equal. If grains are bad for us (and they are), it isn’t the best idea to eat a bunch of animals that have been fattened up on genetically modified corn or soybeans in an attempt to get health. On an interesting side note here, they feed these high-carbohydrate foods to the animals to fatten them faster. Seems logical enough that those high-carbohydrate foods might have a similar effect on us. Not convinced? Check out the cows and the humans the last 50 years… both are becoming more and more obese!

The old saying “You are what you eat” rings true here. The confounding factor is that your dietary protein (meat) is what it eats, also. Besides the extra body fat caused by these grain foods, these poor animals get really large doses of toxins to store in this fat from all the pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics used in these grains.

For those of you who haven’t seen Food, Inc., (I recommend it!) commercially processed meats in America today (i.e. the kind you buy at the grocery store) are fed large amounts of modified, high carbohydrate feed to speed the process of getting it to slaughter. These animals are also usually kept in cramped, unsanitary condition and walk around in their own feces. Even chickens today are kept in dark houses and only live 28 days from hatching to slaughter. Their bodies grow so fast that their bones and organs can’t keep up and they can only waddle a few steps before falling over. While this may be enough to convert us all to vegetarians or PETA members, there are other, healthy options of obtaining animal protein.

Let’s look at beef for an example. Cows were meant to eat grass (they are ruminants). When cows do eat grass, they function without disease and when slaughtered, have over 5 times the nutrients of grain-fed cows. The problem is that cows who eat grass don’t gain weight and don’t sell for as much. In the name of fast profit, we have converted entire species of animals to diets they were not meant to eat. To find healthy sources of protein, you will have to get a little creative, but it is possible.

Grass-fed and free-range meats can often be found at farmers markets or through local farmers. (Just be sure to make sure they are truly eating only grass and truly have room to run) Some farmers offer cow-sharing or cow-pooling, which allows you to purchase 1/4 or 1/2 of a cow when it is live and then receive the meat after it has been butchered. Similar arrangements often exist for chickens. These naturally raised, grass-fed and free-range meats boast a much higher nutrient profile and contain much more Omega-3 fats than their conventional counterparts. These naturally raised foods also taste better! If you do make the jump to organic, consider consuming organ meats as well. Organ meat consumption has gone down in America, but organ meats contain high levels of purines and proteins and are a great source of nutrition. For those of you who have access to it, wild game meat is also an amazing source of nutrition. (As I have just gotten access to this myself, I will be chronicling my trial and error of preparing wild game in the next few weeks!)

Another benefit to these naturally and organically raised meats is that they are treated humanely, allowed to exercise and breathe fresh air. It seems that many vegetarians oppose not the consumption of meat, but the horrible treatment of most conventional animals (rightly so!).

I personally buy our meat from local farmers through cow-sharing, but there are also online options for those who don’t happen to live down the street from a grass-fed beef ranch. Just search for cow-sharing in your area or “organic Grass-fed beef” to find some online options. If buying at stores that carry these options, look for labels like “organic,” “exclusively grass fed,” and “free-range pastured.” Beware of labels like “all-natural,” “hormone and antibiotic free,” and simply “free-range,” which carry no real weight and are not monitored.

Sadly, our manipulation of the food chain doesn’t stop with the poor cows and chickens. We are now commercially farming fish like salmon (and catfish, which are almost completely raised in farms, and fed dog food… appetizing, huh?) The same rule applies here… we are feeling animals foods they were not meant to eat, and their health suffers because of it. These fish suffer from disease and have much fewer nutrients than wild caught varieties. Wild caught fish, on the other hand, have a much higher nutrient/trace mineral profile and are much healthier for human consumption. Look for labels like “wild-caught” on fish. Avoid fish that doesn’t specifically say it is wild caught, and avoid like the plague any fish that boasts that it is “farm-raised.” If you have to opt for conventional fish, go for cans of chunk light tuna in cans or sardines. While this may seem weird, these fish contain the smallest amounts of mercury and are wild caught. Shrimp and lobster are other great sources, again if wild caught.

Foods like raw nuts (note: peanuts are not nuts) and organic high-fat unsweetened plain yogurt also contain adequate amounts of proteins and are acceptable options (though in lesser amounts). These are incomplete proteins, so you won’t get the same nutrient-bang for your buck, but they do contain some good protein and are a good way to mix-it-up once in a while. Make sure to choose organic on both of these, and raw when possible. With yogurt, opt for the high-fat, unsweetened varieties.

So, once you find these healthy sources of protein, how much should you eat? As a general rule, most adults need upwards of 50 grams (many need closer to 100 grams) of protein a day. Pregnant women and many men need to consume the higher range of this scale. This protein can come from beef, chicken, organ meats, wild game, eggs, nuts, seeds, yogurt and other healthy sources, and even 100 grams really isn’t much when you cut the processed foods and carbs. Check out my food page for some recipe ideas!

To recap…

Good proteins:

  • Grass fed beef and beef organ meats
  • Wild game like deer, elk, turkey, etc.
  • Free-range pastured chickens and eggs
  • Wild-caught salmon and other fish
  • Wild-caught shrimp and lobster
  • Chunk-light (not albacore) tuna or sardines (in water, not vegetable or soybean oil!)
  • Raw, organic nuts and seeds (soaked overnight and dried) and their butters
  • Whole, full-fat, organic plain yogurts

Bad proteins:

  • Conventionally raised beef and organ meats
  • Conventionally raised chickens and eggs
  • Farmed seafood
  • Sweetened or processed dairy sources
  • Nuts cooked in hydrogenated vegetable oils (most of them!)
  • Beans and legumes
  • Fermented soy

What is your daily protein intake? What is your favorite source? Tell me about it below!

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Reader Comments

  1. I hope you realise that advocating ‘wild caught’ fish, while a lovely idea, is directly responsible for overfishing and the extinction of entire species! The current level of fishing is unsustainable and and increased demand will only hasten the overfishing of very vulnerable & valuable sea life! While good health is important, it should not come at the expense of several species of fish which should be preserved for future generations.

    • I certainly see how this can be a concern, however, there are sustainable ways of eating wild caught fish. The label MCS signifies that the fish caught are from a sustainable source. The overfishing is not the only problem contributing to decline in populations, as fish farms actually put a lot of stress on wild populations also. “Ironically, the hatcheries and farms that popped up to alleviate pressure on wild salmon populations are now endangering them. Research shows that situating fish farms near wild salmon populations can cause declines of more than 50 percent in the wild fish [source: Owen]. Both hatcheries and farms may introduce weaker genes into the wild population’s gene pool through interbreeding, thus lowering salmons’ chances for survival. In addition, the artificial structures are more conducive to parasites and disease, which then infect wild populations. Competition is also a factor.”
      People certainly should make a conscious effort to find fish from healthy and sustainable sources, but merely eating farmed fish will not do much to replenish the population, since these farms put stress on the wild fish’s ecosystem. There are also certain species of fish that are wild caught and not in danger, so there are certainly options. I personally do not think that a declining fish population is ever a good reason to eat farmed fish that has been fed soy feed, however, and it would be better to not eat any fish or to supplement with quality fish oils from sustainable sources. I think there is a middle ground here that benefits our health and supports the fish population, people just need to be aware and pursue this option.
      Thanks for the comment.

      • Do you realize that for every pound of fish caught, 5 pounds of “bi-kill” are caught as well? This includes other fish, endangered sea turtles, sharks, porpoises and even whales. There is no such thing as sustainable fishing. I find advocating shrimp shocking as tremendous damage is done to the ocean floor with it’s harvesting, devastating the ecosystem in the ocean.
        Regarding all these other “great protein sources” coming from animals, there can be debate until the cows come home about the health aspects being positive or negative(The science I follow shows all those foods cause disease and ill health), but how do we adjust our moral compass to justify eating them(animals) when they are the largest contributor to climate change, and effect our air quality, dying oceans, world hunger, use 29% of our fresh water on the planet while over a billion people are without any-the list goes on. The plant kingdom provides everything we need for vibrant health, with 1/11th the global impact of eating animals. On a small planet with an exploding population-they solution to all these major problems in the world is…on your plate.

        • Many people have tried your way of eating and it caused them many health problems. If your response to that is they aren’t doing it “right,” then I’m wondering how our ancestors did it without your instructions… What our world needs is for people to learn to trust their own intuition about their own body and let others do the same. Additionally, extreme ways of eating, living, etc., there’s the problem.., We need to realize that ALL life is sacred, not just us, not just animals, all… So what do we eat? Other sacred beings with gratitude. Animals eat animals, some animals just plants…and that’s as nature clearly intended. It isn’t wrong, or are you saying animals are wrong, less than you? It isn’t so… Plus, many of our problems have come about from that (many times re-written) old book, like “be fruitful and multiply” and belief that birth control is a bad thing, when we’re not taking proper care of the people/children we already have. In our continuing to arrogantly keep having children, well, that’s such a slap in the face to Mother Earth, which already has more ppl than this tiny planet can handle. Kind of an indicator that we have too many ppl is that we can’t eat fish without destroying a species. And yet fish is such an important part of healthy eating, as science shows.

          • Having children is not arrogant, it’s one of the greatest blessings anyone could have. Yes, we should always do our best to take care of the earth, people are always more important than the earth is, not the other way around.

          • Fish may have been a part of a healthy diet in the past, but now, they are full of radiation, PCB’s, dioxins and mercury. No longer healthy, no longer sustainable, still cruel.

  2. This is all new to me, but I have enjoyed all the information you have provided. Thank you! I am just starting a gluten-free diet for myself and will try to slowly wean my family. My biggest concern is in buying the organic/grassfed beef and free-range chicken. Just pricing the chicken was a big shock to me! It was three times as much as aldi’s. I also have a good source for the grassfed beef, but it’s $6.00/lb. We are on such a tight budget. I would appreciate any suggestions! Thank you again for all of this great information!!

    • Thanks for reading! Making the switch is the toughest part, but it gets easier. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a cow-sharing source, where local farmers who raise grassfed cows allow you to purchase part of one while alive, and then they take it to the processor and you pick up from there. Sometimes there are similar situations for chicken. Eggs are also a cheaper protein option and are packed with nutrients. If you can make the switch to grassfed/pastured, serve with a lot of vegetables and healthy fats to make sure everyone gets enough without breaking the bank. If worst comes to worst, remember that even conventional meats with an otherwise healthy diet free from grains, sugars, etc is much healthier that a diet of conventional meats and all those!

  3. why do you say that beans and legumes are bad protein choices?

      • So does soaking nuts In water help remove that nasty acid from them. Because I’m going to start making almond nut milk and spreads and they do need soaked over 8 hours period is that just to remove the skin? As the pulp can be used to make flour. So my thoughts are can that be an alternatives to some flour making recipes to enjoy on occasions 😉 thank you 🙂 and thank you for all the information. I’m learning each time I research healthy balance eating. I’m going to cut milk out my diet and harsh sugars too. And when I have my own actually house without permission and garden I’m going to just have ducks running around for eggs and grow grow grow all those edible goodies. I was hoping to grow nuts and seeds but if they are a no no. I hope I can intake the other sources of omega 3 ala from fish instead 😉 and grow only little nut for balanced diet. I also want to ask. I’m aware that sprouted grains nuts seeds also re beat sources for alkaline mains and your page on grains claims them also to be better for lesser nasty acidic and harmfulness in your body. So i take it ground sprouted grains and nuts and seeds aren’t an alternative? I can buy sprouted flour and I can grow sprouted nuts in future for milk and spreads to make it extra better for my health and my future children. See all this boils down to providing me better and then my future children 😉 any thoughts on that ? I can cut out grains. But I’m just curious to how it works ?

        • Yes, sprouting and soaking will remove some, although not all, of the phytic acid. It definitely better to use one of those processes if you are going to consume nuts.

          • Thank you. I’ve learnt a lot since this post. And I’m not going to be consuming nuts if ever. The pure and soaked coursed almond flour may be a treat though with your pancake recipe 😉
            Thank you

    • They are great protein sources. The lectins that everyone is up in arms about are removed when they are soaked and even more digestible if there are also sprouted. Starch is not bad for you! Legumes and grains are loaded with health benefits.

  4. how detrimental would it be to one’s health to be (as temporarily as possible) eating conventional beef, chicken, etc, but avoiding carbs, sugar, and soy? i’m in college right now, and required to eat in the cafeteria, and don’t really know where those meats and fish come from…but i don’t know if i could live on just eggs!

    • and by carbs i mean grains!

    • It would definitely be more beneficial than eating carbs, sugar and
      soy. Try to make sure you are getting a lot of veggies in and you
      should be fine!

  5. I am new to your sight and really enjoy it! You have great recipes and very helpful information. I need all the help I can get with food planning and cooking.
    Question, I’ve never given my family sardines before and I’d like to start. Can you give me suggestions on how to serve them? On a cracker with cream cheese? not really sure how to make it appetizing.
    Thank you so much!
    Lauren

    • Sardines can be a little tough, but kids usually like them,
      especially younger kids. Cream cheese works great, and I usually add
      some dill. To transition, you can also mash the sardines to break up
      the fish look and mix half and half with tuna when making tuna salad.
      I do this for my husband (who doesn’t like sardines) and he doesn’t
      even notice.

  6. Wonderful information here and all through your site! Unfortunately, buying organic and free range meat is all but impossible for many because of the cost. These days it’s hard enough for the average family to buy regular groceries for their family, let alone organic. I appreciate this doesn’t change the fact that organic *is* better, but I wonder how many people end up feeling guilty and dispirited because they simply can’t afford to eat the recommended way. Do you have any realistic suggestions for busy, budget-constrained people who wish to optomise their dietary health?

    • I agree… it is tough for a lot of people (including me!) to buy
      organic sometimes. Depending on where you live, buying in bulk
      directly from an organic farmer who raises beef, pork or chicken can
      be one good option. If not, I encourage people to focus on
      inexpensive but real cuts of meat like whole chickens, briskets,
      roasts, pork loins, etc. These don’t usually have the additives that
      even ground beef has and are often much cheaper. Also, if you have
      access to stores that carry organic or grassfed meats, you can often
      get the organs from the butcher much cheaper. Organs are more
      nutrient dense and aren’t in as high of demand.
      In the long run, I hope no one feels discouraged by not being able to
      buy organic all the time. My thought is to do the best we all can
      within our budgets are realize that even if it isn’t perfect all the
      time, a real food diet, even non-organic is tons better than
      processed foods any day!

      • I have a question about pork.  Even if the farmer uses organic practices, it doesn’t seem like pork is a good choice because everything they eat goes straight to the meat, and they eat everything!  I’ve heard you can get trichinosis fairly easily, as well as parasites and other diseases.  I think they also said that the only way to be sure all of that is taken care of is to have it in a freezer that goes below zero for at least 20 days or so.  So I’m leery of it whether it has nitrates or not and even if it’s not feedlot pork, though I’m sure farm-raised is better.

      • I do think it is very easy for us to get discouraged. I know what we should eat and I might try it for a time but run out of money to buy food for our family. I know we all feel better in a low carb high protein good fat diet but we can’t afford it. I try to make the best choices I can but find it very hard to make meals that fill up my kids without some form of gluten free grain added. Any help would be great. I have about $70-80 a week for a family of five plus I am pregnant.

  7. I was wondering, if you don’t have access to/can’t afford grass-fed or organic meat, would it be healthier to eat conventional meat or become a vegetarian?

    • I’d still say eat the healthiest cuts of conventional meat that you
      can find. It is really difficult to get enough of the right kinds of
      protein as a vegetarian, especially without eating beans.

  8.  A good reminder to soak seeds and nuts overnight, since it reduces phytate levels am I correct? Same with beans, I did some research on this, and studies showed that soaking beans overnight helps dramatically as well as boiling them for up to an hour (cooking) to reduce phytate levels. Thanks for an excellent blog, though I am an organic egg & cheese eating vegetarian (if I can call myself that), I really like all your tips and you are accurate on so many topics. You are fun reading too :).

  9. http://shine.yahoo.com/green/how-much-protein-do-you-really-need-2523319.html  This is an article on Yahoo about how much protein we really need. I really commend you for encouraging people to buy organic, and grass fed when possible btw for humanitarian and ecological reasons….but I do feel with re: to meat, many do great on it, others do just as great without it. I know hundreds of vegetarians who lived very healthy lives through their 70’s on mostly vegetarian diet, though many did eat any combination of dairy, fish, beans, eggs. But protein is vital to our cells, and we all need to think about our sources for it, and you are moving people one step in the right direction with re: to eating organic.

  10. Please quote a reputable scientific study saying that canned tuna has the least amount of mercury and also that wild caught is not contaminated.

  11. Soaking, fermenting, sprouting legumes removes phytic acid.

    • It lessens it but doesn’t remove completely…

  12. Just reading this now. What is your take on non-GMO soy? I eat gluten, dairy and soy free, but I’ve never really tried non-GMO soy. I’m wondering if it would be safer on my system. I’d love to know your thoughts. Thanks!

    • In general, soy has a lot of antinutrients and substances that mimic hormones in the body. As a protein source, it isn’t really that great either, and especially not good enough to outweigh the potential problems it can cause. I typically advise clients to avoid soy and soy products completely, GMO or not…

  13. I can get grass-fed beef where I live, but it’s frozen. Anything wrong with frozen meat, nutrition-wise?

    • Nope… frozen grassfed is still much better than conventional fresh.

  14. Why not albacore tuna? Sorry if someone already asked but I didn’t notice. I have always been told always albacore not other tunas! Help?!?!

    • The most recent info I’ve seen showed higher mercury levels in the albacore than the chunk.

  15. Hi there, I’m just beginning to research this sort of lifestyle  and I think you’re definitely making the right choices! I was raised with loads of protein and garden-fresh veggies in my diet, along with healthy fats (we’re a butter-loving family) and I think it’s been really beneficial to my health and my development… In recent years, we haven’t been eating so healthfully (the meals are still balanced, it’s mostly the constant snacking on carbs that worries me) and I’d like to make some changes. My only question is whether it’s truly that bad to eat store-bought meat? I don’t want to demand that my parents buy grass-fed, it’s not really a viable option until I’m off on my own, so I’d have to make it work as such. I honestly think that just cutting out the excessive amount of carbs in my diet would help for now until I’m adjusted enough to make some more changes.

  16. Thank you so much for this information. I have recently decided to work towards eating a cleaner diet and getting the chemicals out of our house. I have been doing a lot of research over the past couple of weeks. During my research I came across a homesteading farmers market group. I was so excited. My husband and I went there first thing this Morning. However, I left feeling so defeated. There were two different vendors there selling “grassfed” beef. When I asked them if it was 100% grassfed they both gave me the runaround and tried to steer me away from buying 100% grassfed. I was so mad! Here we were so excited to find this group and sure enough it was not what I was expecting. Well, I am on another search to find 100% grassfed. I was hoping to avoid buying off the internet but I think that I am going to have to.

    I really enjoy your blog and you are teaching me so much. Thank you for taking the time to do it.

    • You are so welcome and good for you for holding out for the best! Good luck finding it in your area!

  17. Hello, I’ve really enjoyed your site and have adopted many of your ideas! However, as a successful low carb dieter, I’m a little defensive when you make the sweeping statement : “Others (like Atkins) say that meat, meat, and only meat are the only acceptable sources of protein and that all carbs were created bad”. This is an unfair statement and grossly misrepresents Dr. Atkins’ theory and his diet plan. If you have read his book, you would understand that even in the first phase of the diet, dieters are encouraged to eat 20 carbs a day, and it is emphasized how important it is to get those carbs from green vegetables, which also happen to be the most protein rich. As you continue through the phases, you gradually adds fruits, nuts, more vegetables, lentils, and even grains as long as you can do so without gaining weight. People often confuse “the atkins lifestyle” with the first phase of the diet, when in reality, it’s a lifestyle much like your own. Atkins was a pioneer in getting away from the “American food pyramid” and should be a resource for the wellness lifestyle, not a target.

    • I agree… I should have clarified that I was referencing many people’s interpretation of the atkins diet…

  18. I’ve been reading through your “start here” articles – thank you! I have been working towards improving our family eating habits for a few years. Currently, however, we are in a unique situation: we are living overseas and have very little access to what I would normally want to see us eating. My question is this: all our meat sources are grain fed and I don’t know about the hormones/antibiotics (although I would assume they are there since they tend to be in most meats). Beans are hard to come by (and from your articles are a bad source of protein anyway). Given the lack of availability, what’s the worst of the evils? Better to go vegetarian, rely on beans and skip meat or better to eat meat that isn’t ideal? Would love your insights and opinion! Thanks in advance.

    • I’d personally eat the best meat you can find and balance it out with a lot of veggies and healthy fats if you can get them…. Good luck!

  19. Great article! I think that more people should learn about how foodstuffs affect our well being. Unfortunately, as the population of the world increases, and useable land decreases we are forced to alter feeding methods of livestock. I predict that within 80 years, organic foods will be unattainable, or at the very least unaffordable to the general public. Obviously the priority is to keep us all fed…….too bad that it can affect our health so much!

  20. I LOVE your blog so much and it has definitely helped shape my families new eating habits! I am very interested though in why you places fermented soy in your bad protein category though, as the fermented portion of this should make the soy a good product, like tempah, right?

    • Yes, if they are truly fermented correctly then they are ok in moderation… the problem is that most places sell a version that hasn’t been properly prepared…

  21. What are your thoughts on protein powders? I don’t get enough protein in my diet even with eating meat. Are there other alternatives that you would suggest?

  22. Do you have a reference on what I should be looking for on the label to ensure in getting the healthiest product? I was buying our shrimp from Trader Joes, only looking for Wild Caught. For a while I was getting the langoustine from Argentina… then I noticed on one of the other packages it was printed that it didn’t contain sodium tripolyphosphate. I know buying from the source is best, but Trader Joes is within our budget, so that’s where most of our food comes from. I suppose a guide to hidden additives and preservatives in meat is what I’m looking for. I turn to you since this website is the reason I’m no longer vegan/vegetarian.

  23. I, too have the same question as above. Wellness Mama, please help us find a great protein powder! I would be so happy to find a great paleo protein powder. Any suggestions?

    • I haven’t found one I “love” just yet…might have to develop my own 😉

  24. Hi. Thanks for the valuable knowledge.
    What do you think about getting about 60% of my protein intake from consumption of whole eggs and the other 40% from Chicken. I have mostly come across contradictory beliefs about ingesting the yolk. Do u think its safe to consume about 10 whole eggs a day. Can you please shed some light on the same.

  25. How do you feel about quinoa?

    • Not really good… It is still high in phytic acid.

  26. We have been switching over to grass fed beef, but there is one thing I am concerned about (not just with grass fed beef—with any meat) and that is the plastic packaging. I am pretty sure the meat is wrapped in PVC (even local farmers seem to mainly do this) and I am concerned about it leaching onto the meat, especially because I think I have read before that meat is one of those foods that causes plastic to leach more. I can get grassfed beef at a better price when I buy in bulk, but it will be in plastic. The only way I can avoid the plastic is getting it at the butcher department at a natural grocery store, but it’s pricier. Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts or ideas on the plastic packaging? Thanks!

  27. hi. very good read. I am myself a vegetarian but would like to feed meat / protein to my kids. my daughter 3 at the moment doesn’t like chicken and fish…only likes hot dogs, sausages. honey roast ham slices and fish fingers – most of these contains nitrites and / or sulphites. what are the possible harmful effects of these preservatives?

  28. Ok, I have read your blog now for a long time. I came here specifically wanting to see if you can direct me to any research done on the “longer life for vegetarians” stuff that people are touting. My question is this: could it be that people are eating conventional meat (full of drugs and fed incorrectly) and when they give those meats up they actually do get healthier but maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with meat at all? Does that make sense? I mean do these studies tell us what kinds of meat they were consuming before they went vegetarian? My personal belief is that vegetarianism is detrimental long-term, but I cannot understand all the stuff about studies showing longer life for vegetarians vs omnivors. Thanks for any help you can give!

  29. Hi, Great article, but I am wondering why you label beans as “bad” proteins.

  30. I know this article was written years ago, but I have a question that I hope you can answer. I struggle with figuring out which kind of salmon is healthier, mainly because of the radiation that was leaked into the ocean after the Fukoshima nuclear meltdown (or start of it at least) when the tsunami hit Japan. Any thoughts on this? I have read many articles stating that the fish have been impacted by this, especially salmon, given their migration patterns. That is my main hesitation with wild caught salmon.

    • you have more to worry about than just radiation. Fish are also loaded with PCB’d, dioxins and mercury. Get your omegas from the algae that the fish eat and choose plant based proteins like lentils, beans and hemp. Problem solved 🙂

  31. I feel so over whelmed and about ready to cry most of the time when it comes to this whole foods thing. I live in Vt. but I also have bad anxieties when talking to people,, so it’s very hard for me to ask around to try and find meats for less. We live on a low income of one person who makes less than 15 an hour. We don’t have kids and don’t plan to have any but it’s still so frustrating (especially since the boyfriend doesn’t exactly agree with all this. making it that much MORE frustrating) I don’t know what to do. We just bought a house, and I have many plans (garden, berry bushes, chicken for eggs) I see the benefits of my own chickens for eggs and possibly meat but I just couldn’t see my self killing anything I’ve raised or even sending it off to have someone else do it. I just don’t know what to do. I’ve been gluten-free and dairy-free for about a month now. We barely have enough for enough vegetables to fill the plate (even conventional and or frozen) let alone expensive meats I’ve been trying and spending more on the all natural stuff but now come to find out it means nothing and I might as well buy the regular cheap meats instead. I honestly am near tears, because of how stressful and frustrating this all is. A half of a cow costs like 2,000 there is NO way we could ever save that much money and if we could there would be other things we’d need it for (car, house, etc.) I just don’t know what to do. I think maybe we eat too much meat at dinners as well exactly how much would you consider a serving? 4oz. right?

    • I totally understand how you feel! We are a family of four with one income. My advice to you would be, “baby steps”. You don’t need to try to change everything at once. Pick one small change at a time to focus on. Check out a good blog (southernsavers.com is my favorite) to help you find what is on sale where each week. Plan simple meals using as many inexpensive, yet healthy ingredients as possible…and shop with a list. Couponing helps me save a lot. Do the best you can and don’t stress about the rest. Honestly, stress is far worse for your health than non – organic food!

    • Just get organic rice and beans from the bulk section at your local health food store! They’re are cheap and great nutrition. While you’re at it, get some lentils too. You can make a huge pot of those and have them with rice and carrots and onions for a very healthy and satisfying meal. Simplify this for yourself. Stop stressing about how to afford meat and just choose the good plant sources for protein. You’ll be better off, as well as the animals and the planet.

    • Hey hang in there! try making stir fry with bits of meat but heavy on the vegetables. skip the rice entirely or try cauliflower rice (katie has recipes on here). In a pinch, you can also just include rice which, while still a grain, is gluten free and very cheap. You don’t have to implement all of Katie’s advice at once. Do what you can. take baby steps. Don’t worry about buying organic grass fed stuff right now. If you can afford a membership to costco or sam’s club, you can buy huge packs of chicken breasts and thighs that are individually wrapped and ready to freeze. Keep nutrient density in the back of your mind when choosing what to eat. When I have the urge to reach for cereal (the hubs insists on buying), I convince myself to eat yogurt and fruit instead. It’s okay to eat vegetarian sometimes too! think vegetarian stuffed peppers, mushroom “pizza bagels” (mushrooms instead of bagels), and grain-free eggplant parmesan. You and your family have to eat. If that means “cheating” and eating bread, beans, or grains, sometimes, that’s okay. Start with a reasonable goal. Maybe plan 3 meals a week that follow the rules, and go from there. When you do “cheat” always choose the best options possible, like soaked grains. Do your best. it will still be much better than eating a bunch of processed garbage.

    • Thanks you guys, for the advice, lately I’ve ended up buying regular meats here and there and still eat some grains mostly rice and corn, and ones that are in some gluten free products (which I barely ever eat). I miss cheese a lot, at least a lot more than I thought I would but I’m most likely sensitive to the casein so I can’t have it. Honestly I tried the vegetarian thing before and it really wasn’t working for me. I’m just overly paranoid about a lot of things so if I hear beans are bad I tend to stay away (yes even if i hear they’re also good somewhere else) I just get so overwhelmed so easily. I will check out some of the things you guys have suggested though. So thank you for the kind words and the advice it really means a lot 🙂 . I do see a nutritionist, who told me brown rice can be soaked in water and vinegar and the Phytic acid will be removed, i’m not sure I really trust that but I think I will try it, as rice is cheap. I want so badly to be able to try the whole Paleo thing but for now I think I’ll try and eat as little processed as possible and just eat whole foods at least.. Sorry this is all over the place lol

  32. Why do you recommend “chunk light tuna” rather than albacore?

    • Albacore typically has higher levels of mercury when tested

  33. Just a thought wild game is not always best. Around were I live deer and the like eat corn, wheat and other crops that are sprayed heavily which chemicals and pesticides. In a lot of ways eating wild game is like eating conventionally grown meat. I’m not trying to be difficult just trying to be helpful.