Over the centuries the idea that we need meat in order to power the body has become accepted as fact by many. As a result, there is a widespread perception that if you don’t eat meat, protein deficiency is bound to result. The reality is that, so long as you get a variety of plant based foods every day, you will easily meet your body’s protein requirements. In this article we reveal three vegan friendly replacements for people who are used to getting their protein from chicken, beef and fish.
Complete and Incomplete Proteins
Protein is made up of amino acids. Nine of them are called essential amino acids because the human body cannot manufacture them. A complete protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids. Non-animal sources of protein can be low in some of the essential amino acids, while animal sources generally contain all of them. This had led to the idea that plant based proteins are of inferior quality.
The key to making up the amino acid deficit is to eat a diet that includes a variety of plant sources. By combining grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables, you will be covering all of your amino acid needs. There are also a number of plant based foods that contain all of the essential amino acids. These include:
The fear that you will lose muscle mass if you ditch meat proteins is unfounded. So long as you get a variety of plant based proteins and spread them throughout your day, you will be able to not only keep your existing muscle but add more!
If you are a person who has made the shift to vegan after relying on chicken as a main source of protein, we recommend eating more seeds. A quarter cup of seeds will provide you with around 8 grams of vegan protein, along with plenty of vitamins and minerals. By including a variety of seeds, you’ll be getting all of the essential amino acids, along with Omega 3 fatty acids. This will ensure that you are covering both your protein and healthy fat requirements. And of course, unlike chicken you don’t have to cook seeds!
Add seeds to salads, smoothies and soups or simply eat them by the handful.
Here are half a dozen protein packed seed options:
- Sacha Inchi
If you are used to getting your protein from fish prior to switching to a vegan lifestyle, give hemp a try. This complete plant protein is packed with essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, fiber and Vitamins B and E. Hemp is available in many forms, including as a protein power, seeds and milk. One cup of hemp provides a whopping 20 grams of protein, making it a more affordable form of protein than either fish or eggs. It also contains a more complete overall nutrition profile.
If beef has been a mainstay of your previous diet, we recommend switching to legumes. These are the edible parts of plants in the legume family. They include peas, beans and dry seeds. Beans, in all of their varieties, are an especially good source of protein, with a cup providing between 16 and 28 grams. They are also an excellent source of fiber, iron and antioxidants.
Add legumes to soups and salads and experiment with them in burger patties.
The belief that plant based protein is inferior to animal sources has no foundation. So long as you get a variety of sources, you will be covering all of your amino acid needs. Give our chicken, beef and fish substitutes a try and discover the vegan difference.