Protein is a concern for vegans
Vegan diets--diets that don't include animal products--are becoming more popular. Without a doubt, the major nutritional concern for those choosing a vegan diet is getting enough good quality protein.
Scientifically speaking, proteins are organic compounds made up of building blocks called “amino acids.” There are about 20 common amino acids, and nine of these are considered “essential” since your body cannot make them, and therefore, they must be supplied by the food you eat.
Not all proteins are created equal.
Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids are “complete proteins.” Complete protein foods are generally animal foods. As a rule, plant foods don't have complete proteins, but by eating combinations of plant foods, called “complementary proteins,” you can obtain a complete protein.
For example, when you eat beans with rice, such as is often found in South-of-the-Border cuisine, you are getting a complete protein. The beans and rice complement each other, as each contributes some of the essential amino acids and, when eaten together, they provide all of the essential amino acids.
Here is a quick list of protein foods. If you want to try some recipes using the various plant sources of protein listed, you can click on the links provided.
1. Pinto Beans, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Soybeans, Navy Beans, Garbanzo Beans-----Recipe: Vegetarian Chili
2. Split peas, Lentils-----Recipe: Lentil Soup
3. Peanut Butter-----Recipe: Peanut Butter Fudge
4. Tofu, Tempeh-----Recipe: Tofu Sloppy Joes
5. Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Brazil Nuts
6. Brown rice, Whole Wheat, Oats, Barley---Recipe: Baked Vegetables with Brown Rice
7. Pumpkin seeds, Sesame Seeds, Tahini, Flax seed, Chia Seed
8. Peas, Kale, Okra
Eat plant proteins from a variety of foods.
It is now generally accepted by scientists that it's not necessary to eat complementary plant proteins as part of the same meal in order to obtain a complete protein.
Click here for more information on Complementary Proteins.
However, vegans do need to eat a varied diet of high quality plant foods in order to get enough of the amino acids the body needs to have a healthy supply of complete protein.