In January we are motivated to make dietary changes and one that is becoming increasingly popular is becoming Vegan. Each year the charity Veganuary promotes the idea of going vegan for January. Its success multiplies with each passing year.
If you are continuing this theme or like me edging in that direction by becoming flexitarian you may feel concerned by how you achieve a good level of dietary protein in your diet. You may believe that plants are not able to offer enough protein.
How much is enough protein?
Recommended protein intake figures vary because the quality of the protein has to be considered. Some proteins are more complete than others. A complete protein contains the essential amino acids:
Foods that contain all of these amino acids are:
Other foods will be incomplete and so need to be used in conjunction with each other to create a complete protein offering. One such example would be rice and beans.
In addition to the essential amino acids there are an additional 17 that have been discovered so far. This is why we encourage you to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that you achieve a good balance of these amino acids for your body. It is generally accepted that if you are eating sufficient calories you will be eating enough protein. Mix and match your foods and that way you will have an enjoyable, varied and nutritionally complete diet.
The Vegan society quote research that indicates you should eat 1g protein per each kilogram of body weight. It’s a nice easy calculation! If you weigh 65kg eat 65g of protein a day. Each of us needs to consider our lifestyle; if we are sporty we may wish to eat more protein to build muscle. Equally, if we live sedentary lives we need less food overall.
The reality is that plants offer us some great levels of proteins. Soy and Quinoa are top complete protein producing plants. Meat may offer bigger percentages of protein but what else does it offer? How much fat are you eating when you eat meat? Soy not only gives you protein it provides complex carbohydrates too. Quinoa is another example of a food offering low fat, iron, B vitamins and vitamin E. It also offers four times the calcium that wheat does.
The best plant protein sources
If you have read this far it won’t surprise you that I have rated Quinoa and Soy as top plant protein sources.
We hope we have inspired you and helped you see that protein is not all meat based there are plenty of other options to explore. Many new taste sensations and recipes to create. Have fun!
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