Reduce Animal Protein, Increase Fertility

I attended a webinar last night hosted by a medical doctor who shared some very compelling research on the effects of animal protein on common diseases. He cited numerous studies that demonstrated how a vegan diet not only prevents but can reverse such diseases as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and diabetes. Now I am admittedly an omnivore, but I eat vegan meals often. I already knew that plant-based foods have a huge positive impact on our health. But these studies suggested that even a small amount of animal protein, even just 1 small serving per week, can increase our risk for disease!

Animal Protein

My next question was: what impact does animal protein have on fertility? And again, I found some interesting research on the doctor’s website, The research suggests that just one small serving of animal protein per day increased a woman’s risk for infertility by 30%.   Now this caught my attention.

I delved further. The study found that chicken and beef in particular, increased infertility risk the most. Just one small serving of chicken per day increased risk of failure to ovulate by 50%! It seems that poultry has the greatest impact, followed by red meat, and then fish and eggs.

What about organic animal protein sources? The researchers were not entirely sure how the meat was impacting fertility, but they believe it had to do with a substance in animal protein sources that increases a hormone in the human body, with adverse effects. While they did not control for hormones in the animal’s diet, it was not added hormones and endocrine disrupters that were causing the problem. The research suggests we stay away from all animal protein sources, organic or not.

It’s tough to go cold turkey (no pun intended). So here are 5 ways I will reduce the animal protein in my diet:

  1. Eat more lentils: lentils have lots of fiber and protein. A cup has 18 grams of protein. Women need about 45 grams of protein per day. As a bonus, lentils are also packed with iron, zinc and folic acid, all nutrients that are essential for a healthy reproductive system. Try my Beet and Arugula Salad with Lentils or add them to soups, stews and salads.
  2. Stock up on beans: beans, like lentils are rich in protein and fiber. A cup serving of most beans will deliver between 14 and 16 grams of protein. To cut down on meat, I often mix beans in with ground meat to make taco filling and burger patties. I also recently tried the most delicious sweet potato and chickpea veggie burgers at Moraccan Yam Veggie Burgers.
  3. Try fermented soy: Unlike other beans I mention above, the amount of protein in soy beans is a whopping 28 grams per cup! While I love soy beans (edamame is like chips for me), any processed soy bean products such as tofu, soy milk, and texturized soy protein, are not so great for fertility because of their impact on estrogen levels. Fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh are good for us though. I’ve only just started to try tempeh as it’s not that easy to find in a small town, but watch for future recipes and suggestions. To start though, it’s a good alternative to tofu in stir-fries.
  4. Add high protein vegetables: many vegetables are good sources of protein. An avocado has 10 grams, a cup of sweet potato has 5 grams and a cup of broccoli or spinach has 5 grams. These are already among my favourite vegetables – I just need to eat more of them! To make salads more satiating, add chunks of avocado or cooked sweet potato. Or both spinach and avocado can be added to smoothies without much change in flavour.
  5. Switch to high-protein grains: quinoa is one of the best sources of grain-based protein with 9 grams per cup (well actually, quinoa is a seed, but most of us serve it as a starchy side dish like a grain).   Millet is another ancient grain that is high in protein and makes a good, gluten-free substitute for couscous. Millet is one that I often forget about as it’s not yet a staple in my pantry but I plan to make it more often.   I’m going to try it as morning porridge. Watch my blog for future recipes.

Animal protein

I know, my carnivore friends, going vegan is hard to even fathom. I find that I crave meat if I don’t eat it for a week or so. But if all the documentaries and books out there on industrial farming hasn’t convinced you to reduce your meat intake, I hope that I have.   Start with one or two vegan meals a week and increase from there. You will feel a difference and it gets easier, I promise.







    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve recently started eating more meat again and needed another reason to go back to veganism. As a 41 year-old still hoping to have a child, this is a great incentive! Very informative.

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