A Super Simple Informative Guide to Plant-Based Protein Sources
“So you’re vegan?”
“That means you don’t eat any meat right?”
“Umm…so how do you get protein?”
I’m sure you have had this conversation a lot, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Or you may have been asked one if not all of these questions if you are veg-curious, (thinking about becoming vegetarian or vegan).
Well, if so, great because I am going to explain how being on a plant-based diet can get you adequate amounts of protein!
Why Do People Think Protein Only Comes From Animal Byproducts?
Thing is, a lot of people don’t know that you can get adequate amounts of protein from plants.
In fact, I didn’t know this until I did my research (which I am sharing with you now)!
I mean, when most people think of protein, what comes to mind?
More than likely, it is some type of meat from animals or animal byproducts.
It could be chicken, beef, pork, lamb, eggs, or Greek yogurt.
If you only think of protein as meat, eggs, and dairy, then you may be a little shocked by this article.
The great thing is, you may save some coins, money, by making some of your meals meatless!
We all know that meat is not cheap and saving some money on meat will help all of us carnivores.
Is it Possible to get enough Protein from plants only?
Plant-based diets have become very popular lately.
It may be because of What the Health documentary and how it exposed the unethical treatment of animals.
It may be because of health reasons, religious reasons, or even because you need to save money on your grocery bill.
Whatever the reasons, you still need to have protein in your diet to get all of your essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
Whether you are vegan vegetarian or veg-curious, this article will help you figure out how you can get protein from plant-based protein sources.
A lot of people believe that you can get protein only from meat.
They believe that vegan and vegetarians may be protein deficient when that is not the case.
Yes, it can be harder for people to get the essential vitamins and minerals who don’t eat animal products or meat, but it is not impossible.
You can survive on a whole food plant based diet!
In some cases, it may be better than the typical American diet because it has way less artery-clogging saturated fats.
The right plant-based protein sources can be amazing sources of protein often with fewer calories than those from animal products and less expensive!
We all know that meat is expensive as H-E-double hockey sticks!
A well planned vegetarian and vegan diet can give provide you all of the nutrients you need.
What is the definition of protein, really?
Knowing that protein can come from plants, dairy, and animals, have you ever wondered what makes protein, protein?
Like what exactly is the definition of protein?
The definition of protein according to the dictionary is (Source):
Any of the 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)
If you read that definition and said huh or wtf? Then, you are not alone.
I read it and literally had to read it ten more times to try to understand it and guess what…I still couldn’t.
So simply put, protein is an essential nutrient for the building, maintenance, and repair of almost all of the tissues in your body!
This includes your organs, bones, skin, and hair!
What is the Function of Protein?
The function of protein is:
- To give your body energy
- Keep up your immune system
- Build muscle
- Repair tissue
- Produce enzymes, hormones, and other important biochemicals
- Keep you full longer
Proteins are made up of 22 different amino acids. 13 of these our bodies can make naturally. The other 9…well not so much.
The 9 amino acids that come from protein and that our body can’t make, are called essential amino acids because we have to get them from food.
Which shouldn’t be hard no matter if you eat animals, animal products, or just plants!
As long as you eat a balanced diet, full of a variety of whole natural foods, get enough calories, and enough protein, then you will definitely get the essential 9 (amino acids)
How much protein do I need?
Since we are talking about protein it is important to know how much protein do you actually need in a day.
Protein is essential and is needed for every cell in your body to work properly.
Your body does not store protein in the way it stores carbs and fat.
This means you need to have a steady intake of protein to meet your body’s needs. (Source)
It is recommended that men get 56g of protein a day and women get around 46g of protein in a day.
To calculate more precisely how much your body needs:
- You can calculate your weight in kilograms by multiplying it by 0.45
- Then multiply your weight in kilograms by.8
This will give you how many grams of protein you need in a day. (Source)
Plant-based protein sources vs other protein-rich foods
Since everyone has an opinion on everything, you may have seen a lot of negativity around people’s diet choices especially if you’re meatless. So why is that?
What makes plant-based protein sources vs other protein-rich foods from animals so different.
The main difference between plant protein sources and animal protein-rich sources are their amino acid content.
Most plant-based proteins are incomplete. Meaning they don’t contain all 22 amino acids needed.
Some foods such as quinoa and buckwheat are complete sources of protein.
Also, since animal’s genetic makeup is closely related to ours versus plants, animal protein is digested easier.
This does not mean you should not eat plant-based protein.
You do not always have to eat protein that is complete with all of the amino acids all the time to get your recommended essential 9.
It’s not actually vital to do so.
You can simply adjust your diet from one food to the next so that you can get what you may be missing.
Remember not every diet works for every person.
I’m a prime example.
I have hypoglycemia and I do eat both animal products and plant-based protein to help keep my symptoms at bay.
The best way to figure out if a diet is right for you is to try it out and take note of how your body reacts to it.
If your skin is glowing, you feel less fatigued, your hair and nails are better, your body is more active and less achy, your gut health is great, your attitude is amazing, then you may have found a diet that works for you.
I, on the other hand, have tried to do a plant-based diet and have found that it is just not right for me.
Plant-based protein examples
To help you out if you are vegan, vegetarian, veg-curious, or just looking to cut back on eating meat and saving some money, here are some plant-based protein examples and plant-based protein recipes to get you started!
Believe it or not, those pumpkins that you buy every Halloween and throw out when they rot are a good source of protein.
Well, not the pumpkin per se but the seeds inside them.
1 cup of pumpkin seeds is 12g of protein.
If you aren’t sure what to make with pumpkin seeds, to be honest, I’ve only eaten them like pumpkin seeds until I saw this, check this recipe out.
Cooking Light shows not one, not two, but six delicious ways to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet.
Ch-ch-ch-chia! Remember that? If not, then just forget I mentioned it. (I have to quit showing my age!)
Anyways, Chia is not just for Chia pets, it’s for Chia seeds too.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds and were an important food for the Mayans and Aztecs back in the day, for their ability to provide sustainable energy.
The great thing about Chia seeds is that you can get a lot of nutrients with very few calories.
There are 16.5g of protein in 100g of chia seeds.
That’s a serious amount of protein in some tiny seeds!
If you want to start adding chia seeds to your diet, here is a great and simple recipe to do so. Minimalist Baker shows how you can incorporate protein into your dessert with this Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.
Finally, something I am very familiar with. Although, I like my almonds surrounded by coconut and chocolate.
Almond Joy anyone?
Well, those amazing brown ovals also pack a punch of protein to go with them.
How much you might ask?
Well, 1 cup of almonds has 6 grams of protein.
If you are looking for a healthier way to enjoy almonds, since my Almond Joy suggestion may not be quite the best, check out this recipe.
My Recipes went above and beyond to provide you with 100 Crazy Good Recipes Using Almonds.
Flax seeds are the new wonder food!
By the way, I am starting to notice that if it’s a seed and tiny it may do extraordinary things.
Flaxseed can be found in all types of foods like crackers, waffles, and oatmeal.
It’s amazing that it is too because these little seeds can help fight breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
They also contain a bunch of protein. In one cup of flaxseed alone, there is 31g of protein!
If you are looking for easy ways to incorporate flax seeds into your diet, Taste of Home shows you 10 easy ways to do it.
Did you know that you can actually use flaxseed instead of an egg when baking?
Neither did I!
Let Taste of Home show you how in this recipe.
I love me some black beans, especially if I am in line at Chipotle!
Black beans are part of the legume family and are called the turtle beans because of their hard shell like appearance.
They help to strengthen bones, ward of heart disease, lower your blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
One cup of cooked black beans provides 15g of protein.
I like to use black beans in my tacos, enchiladas, southwest casseroles, burritos, the possibilities, of these turtle beans are endless.
Plant-based protein supplements?
If you are plant-based or thinking about it, in the beginning, it may be hard for you to figure out what you need and how much of it.
Until you get the swing of things, you may want to try plant-based protein supplements.
Plant-based protein supplements are perfect for beginners, advanced vegans, and vegetarians.
It is a quick meal to help you refuel after a workout or even if you need a quick snack.
There are a lot of plant-based protein powders that are amazing!
Plant-based protein powder is made using a food processor to remove most of the protein found in plants to make a powder.
Then you can take that powder and combine it with water, non-dairy milk, or put it in oatmeal, etc., and you will have yourself an easy protein-enriched meal.
If you are looking for some of the best protein powders on the market, take a look at Healthline’s article, The 9 Best Vegan Protein Powders.
By the way, Healthline also recommends that when you are searching for protein powder, make sure you compare prices by weight, such as ounce per 100 grams.
And to notice that powders made from grains and legumes are a lot cheaper than powders made from seeds.
Common FAQs about Plant-based Protein Sources
What foods are the best sources of plant protein?
- The foods that are the best sources of plant protein are lentils, chickpeas, almonds, quinoa, and spirulina.
What are the three top plant protein sources?
- Top three plant protein sources are quinoa, Ezekiel bread, and wild rice.
What is a plant-based protein?
- Plant-based protein is a protein that does not come from animals or any animal byproducts. It comes from plants and is not as easy to digest since plants molecular structure is not similar to humans. Plant-based protein sources do contain a lot less saturated fats than animal protein products.
How do vegans get enough protein?
- It is simple for vegans to get enough protein from non-animal protein sources by eating a balanced diet of plant-based protein sources and whole foods. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, seeds, often contain a lot of protein!
Conclusion: The last thing you need to know about plant-based protein sources.
The last thing you need to know about plant-based protein sources and one of the most important takeaways is that you can get all of your protein needs from plants alone.
You just have to eat a variety of whole foods and proteins!
Also, remember that becoming a vegan or vegetarian is not simple if you weren’t raised that way.
It is a lot to learn and even bigger adjustment!
This Beginner’s Guide to Plant-Based Protein Sources will help you out and get you moving in the right direction!
Now, after reading this article I would like to know which tip surprised you the most?
Is there something I left out?
Either way, let me know in the comments below right now!
Remember Love Always and Spread Bliss,