But then, it’s 2018 and there are still people who ask vegans “Where do you get your protein?” Really? REALLY?
Well, any vegan or vegetarian reading this, kindly redirect said person here for a full-blown explanation to why they should no longer ask such blasphemy. Whereas if you’re a meat eater, this is a chance of education. Sit back and absorb the knowledge.
First in the agenda: Vegetables contain protein. If you’ve never studied biology or read anything about vegetables, you would probably think vegetables only have vitamins and minerals. Well, good news is that they also contain protein. Many vegetables contain protein, such as soybeans, lentils, beansprouts which have more than 10g protein per 100g.
However, this does not show the protein quality of these vegetables; whether they contain a good amount of essential amino acids or just non-essential proteins that we can already make in our body. If they don’t contain enough essential amino acids for our body, then the statement that vegans and vegetarians have enough protein would be invalid, wouldn’t it? Don’t know what essential amino acids are? Basically, essential amino acids are building blocks of protein that exists in the food that we need to consume because our body simply cannot produce them. Not consuming enough essential amino acids on the long run will result in muscle wasting, fatigue and protein deficiency. So, they’re very very very important. Moving on, there are nine essential amino acids and there are good non-animal sources of them.
Leucine: Stimulate muscle strength and growth. Good sources are cheese, soybeans and pumpkin.
Photo credit: Livestrong
Isoleucine: Helps produce red blood cells. Sources include dairy and eggs, brown rice and oats.
Photo credit: Bob’s Red Mill
Lysine: Functions in muscle repair and growth. You can get leucine from eggs, spirulina and avocado.
Photo credit: Food Network
MethionineImportant for muscle and blood vessels growth. Cheese and dairy, chia seeds and Brazil nuts contain methionine.
Photo credit: Self
Phenylalanine: Largely impacts mood and mental health. Sources are seaweed, pumpkin, quinoa and olives
Photo credit: BBC Good Food
Threonine: Supports immune system, liver, heart and central nervous system function. You can get threonine from nuts, seeds and leafy greens.
Photo credit: Yummy Spoonfuls
Tryptophan: Supports brain and nervous system function. There’s tryptophan in yogurt, chickpeas, pepita and bananas.
Photo credit: Good Housekeeping
Valine: Important for optimal muscle growth and repair. Good sources include cheese, spinach, chia seeds and blueberries.
Photo credit: SANE Store
Histidine: Supports brain health and neurotransmitters. Beans, legumes and buckwheat contain histidine.
Photo credit: Oh My Veggies
Technically, eaten alone, these vegetables contain much smaller value of protein compared to animal protein. However, there’s a method called protein complementation that assures what you’re eating contain enough essential amino acids for your body.
Is this some new diet fad?
Hahaha, absolutely not! It is not new at all because we’ve been complementing foods since, well, a long time ago. For example, beans and toast, tempeh eaten with rice, noodles with sesame seed sauce, peanut butter sandwich and so much more. Nevertheless, even without protein complementation, vegetarians and vegans alike are able to get enough protein, if not more than meat-eaters, when a healthy, varied diet is consumed. Of course, deficiency could happen if you only eat a type of food almost every day. That’s awfully unhealthy in the first place! Just…you know…eat different kinds of food. Variety is key.
I bet some of you have this burning question in your mind;
Can I still gain muscle being vegetarian or vegan???
Lads, of course you can! With enough research and resources, you’ll be able to be the next vegan athlete. Did you know there are loads of vegetarian and vegan athletes out there? Scott Jurek is a vegan ultramarathoner, Carl Lewis is a vegan Olympic sprinter, Ruth Heidrich is a vegan endurance athlete and Austin Aries is a vegan wrestler! There are more vegan athletes that you can look up on because these people are definitely not the only ones.
So, there you have it! Being or going vegan is not as restrictive as many people thought it was because there is an abundance of food out there that does not need to be sourced from animals. You will have enough protein for sure, as long as you have variety in your diet. You’re probably sick of hearing that phrase by now but I’m just stating a fact.