Going vegan is a big commitment. With it comes an entirely new lifestyle that requires adherents to look for ways to supplement their diet with alternative sources of protein—no more bacon for you!
Luckily, this fad is no longer that. Being vegan is a now lifestyle choice that's becoming more popular, which means vegan options (at the grocery store and at restaurants) are becoming more accessible. Though you can no longer rely on meat to quickly nix anemia or low energy, there are, in fact, many complete protein alternatives that will keep your vegan dreams alive. Whether you’re a current or aspiring vegan, let’s take a look at the real deal with vegan proteins.
Complete Proteins in Vegan Diets
The trick is not just to get protein in your diet—it’s about getting complete proteins while still avoiding animal sources like meat and eggs. Complete proteins are those that contain all nine amino acids that the body can’t produce itself. Many dieticians believe that plant-based vegan diets contain such a wide range of amino acids that vegans are guaranteed to get their complete amino acids with relatively little effort. Yay!
Grains and Seeds
A source of carbohydrates and the perfect bite to give you a fresh dose of energy and leave you feeling full, get a load of these grains and seeds for (nearly) complete proteins.
Hempseed: A complete protein with all nine essential amino acids—nice! Sprinkle some hempseeds, like Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, on your hot cereal in the morning.
Quinoa: A great substitute for rice that’s packed with fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese, quinoa is also a great source of protein and is versatile for cooking and baking. Try it sweet or savory to mix it up.
Rice: Rice is high in the amino acid methionine and brings a slow-digesting carbohydrate to your vegan diet for added energy over an extended period of time. Although it’s not a complete protein as it’s low in lysine, consider pairing rice with a high-lysine addition like white kidney beans.
Chia: Chia seeds are the highest plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids and are also loaded with iron, calcium, zinc and antioxidants. They even offer more dietary fiber than flax seeds or nuts, so throw some of these bad boys into your next smoothie or pasta sauce.
A low-fat, high-protein source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as dietary fiber, these legumes in particular are a great alternative protein source for vegan diets.
Soy: While you should go easy on the processed soy (and any processed foods for that matter), soy is a complete protein that's fantastic for supplementing your vegan diet. Consider tofu, one of the best known soy products, as a substitute for meat in your next meal.
Peas: One cup of green peas contains about as much protein as one cup of milk. Green peas also provide plenty of potassium and fiber, keeping you full and energized.
Beans: High in calories, beans are a great source of the protein lysine and are a tried-and-true source of carbohydrates and potassium. Plus, there are so many varieties that you'll always be able to try a new type or recipe.
Chickpeas: Hummus or not, consider chickpeas as an alternative, filling carb source that will also provide you with amino-acids you may be lacking. Consider roasting some up as a snack or prepping a tasty chickpea burger for your next BBQ.
Packed with fiber to keep things moving and amino acids too, these plant sources pair perfectly with the grains and seeds mentioned above for a complete meal (and protein source). Plus, they're fresh and crisp—two things we love in a meal.
Spirulina: While it’s not a complete protein because it’s lacking the amino acids methionine and cysteine, the superfood Spirulina is a great source of the remaining 7 amino-acids. Mix into your morning shake and you're ready to go!
Spinach: Popeye loves it and you should too! This kitchen staple is packed with sodium, potassium and vitamin A. It's also full of dietary fiber meaning you should never forget to include spinach in your vegan diet.
As it turns out, supplementing your vegan diet with adequate proteins isn’t as hard as it may seem. Keep healthy with complete proteins and make your vegan lifestyle as full and satisfying as possible.