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After 10 Years Of Being A Vegetarian, I Started Eating Meat Again

Hannah Margaret Allen
July 25, 2023
Hannah Margaret Allen
mbg Executive Editor
By Hannah Margaret Allen
mbg Executive Editor
Hannah Margaret Allen is the Executive Editor at mindbodygreen. Previously she worked at Inverse, Men's Journal, and Condé Nast.
Image by Darren Muir / Stocksy
July 25, 2023

I don't know about you, but it seems like everyone in my life is talking about protein. Especially the amount of high-quality protein that women, in particular, need a day to thrive (which is around 100 grams a day!). Instagram, podcasts, and even our Slack channels over at mindbodygreen are riddled with questions like, "Is animal-based protein better than plant-based?" "Do vegetarians get enough leucine?" and "Does anyone have any tips for hitting their protein goals?"

Given this dialogue, I recently started to question whether continuing a vegetarian diet was truly the best decision for my health.

Looking at the research on animal proteins and health

As mindbodygreen's executive editor, I am constantly speaking with medical and nutritional experts to refine our point of view on everyday (but big) questions about what we should eat and why.

Through that process, I've learned that animal-based proteins tend to be higher in leucine than plant-based ones. Leucine is one of three branch-chain amino acids that play an essential role in muscle protein synthesis1. It's also often lacking in those who follow a vegetarian diet2.

As I've amped up my strength training efforts, I've become hyper-focused on ensuring my nutrition supports the increased physical demand. If it doesn't, I know I'm doing my muscles more harm than good. This is a big reason why I started to consider eating meat again.

Looking for a hunger-quelling solution

I also wanted to see if incorporating more protein would help my insatiable appetite, which I've shared with y'all before. For some reason, I've been so hungry lately. Upping my daily fiber intake with our organic fiber potency+ helped, but I was wondering if my body was telling me something more… And that's when my efforts shifted to protein.

I jumped headfirst back into the game

Last fall, I said goodbye to my vegetarian diet and opened up the door to eating high-quality meat. What did I eat first? A bite of grass-fed steak. I know, there was no hesitation.

And it actually didn't hurt my stomach. I have been focused on gut health for a while now, so I'm sure it helps that I regularly take probiotics, eat probiotic-rich foods, and devour loads of fiber.

Then I thought: What's next? I've been at mindbodygreen for almost five years now, and ever since we launched supplements in 2019, I've been curious about our collagen. People rave about it, and my own stepmom swears by it! 

So once I ripped off the Band-Aid and ate that first piece of steak, I knew it was time to give our beauty & gut collagen+ a go! It ticked all the boxes. I wanted something to help me on my protein journey, but I also wanted a supplement to make my skin look glorious. There's a noticeable firmness in my skin and an easing of fine lines that I've loved to see.* 

It's a win-win. 

So, how do I get more protein now? 

Now that I've transitioned away from a fully vegetarian eating pattern, here's what I eat to help me reach the 100 grams of protein a day goal: 

  • I incorporate beauty & gut collagen+ into my smoothies, which has 16 grams of protein per serving. I also add whey protein, so the total protein count of my smoothie hovers at around 40 grams (!!). 
  • I typically have two eggs a day, which brings in 12 grams of protein.
  • I eat one meal with meat in it per day.
  • I sprinkle hemp seeds and nutritional yeast on whatever makes sense. 
  • I use Greek yogurt in dishes regularly instead of sour cream or mayo. 

The takeaway

Adding high-quality animal proteins back into my (still plant-heavy) diet was definitely the right move for me. It has helped my hunger levels, and I feel more confident in how I'm supporting my muscle and skin health. beauty & gut collagen+ has been a staple in my routine since the fall, and I have no plans to reverse course. 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Hannah Margaret Allen author page.
Hannah Margaret Allen
mbg Executive Editor

Hannah Margaret Allen is the Executive Editor at mindbodygreen where she runs all things editorial. She received her journalism degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she now serves on the alumni advisory board. She was previously the Managing Editor at Inverse and has worked at Men's Journal and Condé Nast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.