Afia: I have decided to be a vegan
Everyone: What about the protein?
Literally every time, that’s the first question I get. What about protein? Are you getting enough protein? Blah Blah blah and it goes on and on and on. So I thought it will be a good idea to try and debunk all the myths. I would like to add that what is in this post is what I have learned so far, obviously there are far more reasons to get out of an animal-based diet. The one thing I just really wanted to get clear is that we need to leave behind our preconceived notions that we should eat something because some government official said so, as he is being paid by large meat and dairy companies.
Obviously trying to keep it fare, I looked at both the evidence that supports eating animal protein and/or plant based protein. I looked into a number of documentaries and works and tried to get a holistic view as a way to see if I was really making the right decision.
But what I found was that just concentrating on the ethics of adopting a plant based diet is still not a validation to everyone because they will still question your source of protein and there is where you are stuck.
This is where this blog post comes in. It has taken me well over a week to compose all the information necessary to understand the “protein question”
The word “protein” is a category that encompasses a number of chemical molecules that are very important building blocks in our body, helping us to catalyze certain reactions, build our tissues, muscles and break down our food. Proteins are made up of amino acid blocks of which there are about 21
Essential amino acids refer to amino acids that we humans cannot make, conditionally essential are ones human make very slowly and there are five that humans can make. With this in mind, we need to supplement our source of amino acids from our diet, which includes eating a variety of protein sources.
Now this is where the controversy lies–the quality of these proteins. “High quality” proteins are proteins that provide all the essential amino acids, while “low quality” refers to sources that lack one or two of the essential amino acids. The “quality of the protein source” does not necessarily mean that it is the best type of protein source for you, it just means that it has all the amino acids. Animal meat and diary are “high quality” protein sources; they have all the essential proteins, and the proteins are very homologous to those we need in our body. Plants, legumes, grains are all “low quality” protein sources and do not have all the essential amino acids individually. Therefore, with a plant-based diet its all about having variety to supplement the other essential proteins.
Currently, according to the FDA and numerous studies, the recommended amount of protein is about 50 grams for a 2,000 calorie diet, or 0.8 grams for every kilogram of weight. But in reality we only need about 10% of our calorie intake to be proteins. Eating a higher protein diet is rather detrimental than beneficial.
But with meat and diary becoming a big part of the food culture and large animal product producers pushing their agendas in government, the consumption of animal protein sources has severely increased.One can say that increasing meat intake means increasing the intake of a “high quality” protein source but it can wreck havoc in our system.
Plant protein sources, as a low quality protein source allows for a slower synthesis of new proteins, which is better. For more information on this, check out this link on T. Colin Campbell’s website. In addition, I will link more information about his work in my vegucated tab.
So where do we get our daily dose of proteins? It’s all about variety, and quite frankly, there are some whole foods we eat that we do not realize provides a significant amount of protein.
- Beans–high in protein per weight
- Lentils: per a cup of cooked lentils, you get 17.9grams of protein
- Chickpeas: 100 grams of chickpea gives you around 19g of protein, and even though you will not consume an entire 100grams in one sitting that is still a relatively high amount of protein
- Mung beans: These are the easiest beans to start a plant-based diet with as it digests easier and has about 18g of protein for half a cup, that is amazing!
- Soy beans: These are such a great source of protein, it’s just a shame that soybeans is the ingredient for many processed vegan alternatives. Nevertheless, one cup of boiled soy beans delivers up to 28grams of protein! So if you get the chance to get some soybeans, definitely make use of them
- Grains: you can pair any of these grains with different combinations of beans and veggies to get a variety of proteins in a meal
- Quinoa: 1 cup of quinoa has about 8 grams of protein, and obviously one cup of cooked quinoa is definitely not enough so if you eat more, that means more protein
- Oats: 100 grams of oats is about 17 grams of protein, so definitely more excuses to keep making overnight oats like my chocolate ones
- Buckwheat: 100 grams of buckwheat provides 13 grams of fibre
- Seeds and Nuts: over the course of the day, snacking on a few nuts and seeds is very helpful in staying full and getting a good source of healthy fats. These are also a great source of protein to complete your daily value.
- Pumpkin seeds have more protein per once than chia seeds and flax seeds and are great on salads or as a snack
- Chia seeds: These are great source of extra protein in smoothies, water, and overnight oatmeal. It is one of my all-time staples as it has 5g per two tablespoon which can definitely add a little bit of protein to your meals. Check out the Chia seed post for more info on its nutritional value
- Fruits and Vegetables: all fruits and vegetables contain some content of protein for the essential amino acids. Although not as much as other grains and legumes, its addition to a meal with legumes and grains can also help provide more protein.
Just a mixture and combination of all of these foods will give you the necessary protein you need to function each day! Since you need to consume enough calories a day, getting the right amount of proteins will not be a problem.
I will also put a list of links to check out if anyone really wants to take a look at more of the science behind plant-based meals. Please leave a comment or suggestion on additional topics I should cover because learning about this was super interesting!