Updated: Apr 14
A question vegetarians and vegans get constantly, is where are they getting their protein.
Personally, I stopped eating eating red meat about 7 years ago, and poultry about 3 years ago. I have been pescatarian since, eating only a little bit of dairy and eggs as well. I eatly a mainly plant based diet, however - but as of last week decided to make the full switch to vegan!
It is easy to assume that only meat has high protein. But lots of vegetables and other plant based options are actually really high in protein. The only real difference is that meat is what is called a complete protein. This means that they contain all 9 essential amino acids. There are a total of 20 amino acids, but only 9 can not be naturally produced by our bodies. We must get these 9 amino acids through our diet, deeming them essential.
There are very few complete plant based proteins. A few examples are: quinoa, chia seeds, hemp seeds, tofu/tempeh/edamame, spirulina and a few others.
This is where the biggest controversy about plant based proteins comes from. But truthfully, you do not need to eat only plant based proteins. If you eat a variety of plant based proteins, you will get an ample about of each essential amino acid. It is all about variety and balance.
A few other plant based protein options:
- Nuts and seeds
You can also buy mock meats:
- Vegan burger
- Vegan mince
- Literally millions of different kinds
These also bring a lot of controversy as they tend to be highly processed. I think options like these are really good when meat eaters are trying to eat more plant based, if you are in a rush to have a plant based meal etc. I try to eat more whole foods, but again sometimes I do not feel like making something from scratch and these are good substitutes. Also, processed does not always mean unhealthy.
It is all about what works for you, what you prefer to eat and so on. Personally, I believe the planet really needs us to eat more plant based. I am not saying that everyone should become vegan, not at all. I am not a plant based eater that tries to force that on others. Just taking into consideration the abuse some animals go through and the fact that so many forests have been cut down soley for the purpose of animal live-stock grazing - if everyone tries to eat a little more plant based, the planet would benefit from that. Even if just you add it one plant based meal a week, can have a huge impact.