If you are a vegan (or even vegetarian), you have probably heard the question, "...but where do you get your protein?" at least a bazillion times. This is the go-to question for many people because they associate animal protein with being the best form of protein out there.
Well, my friends, I am here to tell you that you can get all the protein you need from PLANTS! WOOHOO!
First off, let's start with what protein is and why we need it.
Protein: "Any of various naturally occurring extremely complex substances that consist of amino-acid residues joined by peptide bonds, contain the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, usually sulfur, and occasionally other elements (such as phosphorus or iron), and include many essential biological compounds (such as enzymes, hormones, or antibodies)" (Protein, 2017).
Cool. Now that THAT is out of the way, we can move on to: Why do we need it? Protein is one of the biggest building blocks in our bodies, and it helps build and maintain cells. These cells help us grow and function properly. Without proper protein intake, your body will start breaking down existing protein sources which can lead to a variety of negative effects (view here).
So, where can we find these essential amino acids? PLANTS. That's right, you can find all the protein you need in a variety of plant-based foods. Some of the best sources of protein are:
Beans & Legumes: Chickpeas, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Soy Beans, Peas, Lentils, Lima Beans (bean burgers & brownies are delish).
Whole Grains: Quinoa, Oats, Brown Rice, Wheat (including whole wheat bread, pitas, and pastas).
Veggies! Brussel Sprouts, Avocados, Potatoes, Broccoli, Spinach, etc. all have admirable amounts of protein in them naturally!
Protein Supplements: There are plenty of plant-based protein powders out there. Most of them consist of brown rice, pea, soy, or hemp protein, but there are many varieties available! (Just Google "Vegan Protein Powder."
That is just a general list of some great plant-based protein sources available to us, but there are so many more! There are tons of delicious vegan options out there that aren't just broccoli and rice, including: black bean burgers, veggie patties, black bean brownies (they're seriously so good - here is one recipe), pasta, whole grain bread, bagels, oatmeal, breaded Gardein Crispy Tenders (yum) and the list goes on and on.
Recently I have tried to eat healthier and have been cutting out a lot of processed foods and sugar, so my diet has consisted of mostly whole(ish) foods. Here is a basic day for me:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Silk Protein Milk (click here to view)/ vanilla/ pumpkin pie spice, a handful of berries, coffee with almond milk.
Snack: Lightly salted popcorn (sometimes with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast - tastes like cheese). Maybe a PB&J if I'm feeling wild.
Brunch: Avocado toast (on whole wheat bread) with salt and pepper, veggies of some sort (normally bell peppers or broccoli), and if I'm still hungry, I'll grab a handful of nuts (if ya know what I mean 😉- just kidding).
Lunch: Brussel sprouts, brown rice, garbanzo beans, fruit (usually an orange).
Dinner: Whatever I'm feeling that day - Sometimes I'm super hungry and will eat a lot; other days I keep it light. It might be spaghetti and Gardein's Meatless Meatballs with pasta sauce and broccoli, or it could be as simple as a can of garbanzo's, some brussels, and some hot sauce. It really just depends on how lazy I'm feeling lol.
I just purchased Huel today which is a nutritionally complete and environmentally responsible meal replacement product. It is completely vegan and claims to, "provide you with all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, protein, essential fats, carbs, fiber, and phytonutrients" (What Is Huel?, 2017).
Once I receive this, I will probably supplement at least one meal with it- probably breakfast or lunch? I'll let you know what I think!
I hope this helps those of you who are genuinely curious about where non-meat-eaters get their protein- now you know! In the near future I plan to discuss plant-based protein versus animal protein. May the best protein source win!
See you then! 🌱
What Is Huel? (2017). Retrieved from https://huel.com/ Protein. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/protein