Plant Based Protein
This is a post I felt compelled to create after seeing so much misinformation on social media. Posts like of VEGAN PROTEIN ‘info’ graphics highlighting leafy greens and avocados as great protein sources and individuals touting jackfruit as their new meat replacement just became too much for me to handle. Time to speak out!
Protein is extremely important to the diet, whether you’re on a ‘normal healthy diet’ or trying out some trendy keto/paleo/low carb/vegan diet. Our bodies need it and more and more studies show that consuming 20-30g per meal is optimal. When you’re consuming an unrestricted diet, this can be tricky enough. Consuming a fully plant-based diet makes this a very challenging task that requires careful consideration and meal planning.
Now my goal isn’t to push a non-vegan lifestyle ( I believe in plant forward over plant exclusive), but I do want to point out the nutrition BS that is going around and get you plant eaters on the right track when it comes to getting enough protein.
Cons of vegan protein:
- You absorb at least 10% less of protein from plant sources, so make sure to factor that in.
- You absorb less of the iron (up to 50% less) in plant protein compared to animal.
- Complete lack of B12.
- Plant proteins are incomplete proteins and make it more difficult to get the essential amino acids your body needs, especially Leucine for athletic needs.
- Typically consuming more calories to obtain the same protein as animal sources.
Benefit of vegan protein:
- More fiber! Of course, this may be disruptive for athletically sensitive GI systems.
- More diversity of vitamins & minerals!
The following are suitable vegan meat substitutes due to the good protein content per realistic serving size:
- ½ cup Tofu = 10g
- 1 cup Soy Milk = 9g
- ½ cup Tempeh = 15g
- ½ cup Black Beans = 20g
- 1 cup Peas = 8g
- ½ cup Lentils = 9g
- 1 cup Quinoa = 8g
- 2 oz Chickpea Pasta = 14g
*Keep in mind that animal sources contain high amount of protein (1cup cottage chz = 25g, 3oz Lox =16g, 2 Eggs = 12g, ½ Chicken Breast =27g, 3oz Tuna =25g). Aiming to replace this high-quality protein is difficult to do without using vegan supplements or carefully planning a diverse menu.
The following should NOT be considered meat replacements as they do not contain high amounts of protein on their own (at least in realistic serving size quantities):
- 1 cup Jackfruit = 3g
- 1 cup Oatmeal = 6g
- 1 cup Sweet Potato = 2g
- 23 Almonds = 6g
- 1 tbsp Hummus = 1g
- ½ Avocado = 2.5g
- 2 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds = 2g
- 1 container Dairy Free Yogurts ~ 1 g
- 1 cup Nut Milks ~1 g
- 1 cup Leafy Greens 1g
*These foods should definitely be included in a healthful diet, but they do not act as good ‘meat replacements’ on their own.
Sample Meal Plan for Adequate Vegan Protein:
Breakfast: (~28grams protein)
1 cup Soymilk, 1 cup quinoa porridge & ½ cup tofu scramble w/ spinach & salsa
Lunch: (~28g protein)
½ cup Black Beans, 2 corn tortillas, vegetable slaw, ½ cup sweet potato, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, salsa
Snack: (7g protein)
1 apple, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1 tbsp hemp seeds
Dinner: (~28g protein)
3.5 ounces Lentil/Chickpea pasta, arugula, grapes, almonds, olive oil/balsamic dressing (try this recipe!)
= ~91g protein for the day.