One of the biggest misconceptions about a plant-based (or/and vegan) diet is that we are protein deficient. This is assuming that humans can only get protein from animal sources, (which is simply not true!).
In fact, protein is found in all plant foods! Not all protein sources are equal though, so make sure to eat a variety of plant-based foods to get all 9 essential amino acids.
What is protein made of?
Protein is made of 20 amino acids. Our body doesn’t store it so we make them in 2 different ways
- From scratch
- By modifying others
11 of the amino acids are considered non-essential and can be made by the human body.
The other 9 amino acids; Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine are considered essential ; they can not be made by the human body and must be obtain from a proper diet.
Key elements when following a vegan diet
– There are a ton of high protein foods for vegan such as nuts, quinoa, tempeh, seeds and much more
- Nutritional yeast is a rare non-animal source of the vitamin B12. It is also delicious sprinkled on popcorn (my favorite way to eat it!) and gives a cheesy umami flavour to homemade vegan cheese.
- Balance your protein sources with food that are LOW in lysine and HIGH in methionine with food that are HIGH in lysine and LOW in methionine to get all 9 essential amino acids.
- Methionine: usually found in meat, fish and dairy products but can be found in soy, chickpeas, beans, peanuts and lentils.
- Lysine: typically found in meat, especially red meat, pork and poultry, cheese(particularly parmesan) and certain fish like cod and sardines, but can also be found in quinoa, lentils, beans, tempeh, soy milk, pistachios, pumkin seeds…)
- Did You Know? The white stuff inside hemp seeds are referred to as hemp hearts and they are extremely nutritious.
- Chia Seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids, as well as being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and several essential minerals.
Complete Protein Source Guide For Vegans
8g protein / 185g cooked (1 cup)
Good source of several minerals, including magnesium, iron and zinc.
2. Tofu, Tempeh & Edamame
Edamame & Tofu: 8g protein / 85g
Tempeh: 11g protein / 85g
All derived from whole soybeans.
They are also excellent sources of complete protein.
9g protein / 246g cooked ( 1 cup)
Provides more than 100% of the DV for manganese.
6g protein / 168g cooked (1 cup)
Excellent source of essential minerals like phosphorus, manganese, copper, magnesium and iron.
5. Ezekiel Bread
8g protein / 8g (2 slices)
Made from sprouted whole grains and legumes.
Unlike most breads, provides all 9 essential amino acids.
4g protein / 7g dried spirulina (1 tablespoon)
Supplement made from blue-green algae.
Good source of several B vitamins, copper and iron.
7. Hemp Seeds
10g protein / 30g (3 tablespoons)
Rich in the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha linolenic acid (omega-3), iron, potassium and several other essential minerals.
8. Chia Seeds
4g protein / 28g (2 tablespoons)
Contains all 9 essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids and several essential minerals.
9. Nutritional Yeast
8g protein / 15g (1/4 cup)
(When fortified) provides an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and all the B Vitamins including a rare non-animal source of vitamin B12.
Gives a cheesy, umami flavor to vegan dishes.Delicious with popcorn (my favorite!)
10. Rice and Beans
12g protein/ 239 g (1 cup)
Brown and white rice: low in lysine, high in methionine.
Beans: high in lysine, low in methionine.
Combined together, they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
11. Pita and Hummus
7g protein / 1 medium-sized pita (57g) + 30 g hummus (2 tablespoons)
The wheat used to make pita is low in lysine, and chickpeas ( the main ingredient of hummus) is high in lysine.
12. Peanut Butter Sandwich
14g protein 2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread. (62g) + 32g peanut butter (2 tablespoons)
Wheat bread is low in lysine, and peanut butter is high in lysine.
Combined together = complete protein source
If you’re following a vegan diet, make sure to eat a variety of plant-based foods to get all 9 amino acids because not all plant-based foods are made equal.
Contrary to popular belief, they are alot of plant foods that are high in protein. Combining them will keep your meals interesting as well as being a complete source of protein.!
I hope you found this complete protein vegan guide useful!
Personally, my go-to is the peanut butter toast in the morning (and any time of the day is also acceptable, right? #toastalldayislife).
Which one is your favorite?