There are an abundant amount of vegan protein sources out there, but typically vegans must combine disparate types of foods in order to assure that they’re getting a balanced source of protein. Plants and legumes do provide protein, but most don’t include all of the essential amino acids that come together to provide all the right types of protein your body needs on a daily basis. It’s not that vegans must deprive themselves of a protein-rich diet, but they must be conscious that they’re getting enough variety of different types of proteins (in order to assure that they are getting all the essential amino acids needed).
Below you’ll find some useful foods and combinations of foods that will provide a complete collection of the needed proteins.
1. Soy Foods
Soy protein is the only source available to vegans that do in fact provide all of the essential amino acids that the body needs on a daily basis. Therefore, vegans will usually make this a staple part of any meal they prepare. These days, soy comes in such a wide variety of different forms that vegans aren’t necessarily tied down to eating one style of food. Items such as tofu, tempeh, miso and soy milk can be prepared in hundreds of different ways that run the gamut of all styles available in the world of cuisine. In fact, there isn’t a meat dish out there that can’t be prepared by substituting some soy-based alternative for the meat products it contains.
2. Whole Grains and Beans
Combining whole grains and legumes will also do the trick. Something as simple as black beans on rice, for example, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast will provide what you need.
3. Vegetables, Nuts and Whole Grains
Combining as many different types of plant products will also assure that you’re getting all the essential amino acids you need. Chopped green vegetables combined with some almonds and served over whole wheat pasta can be very filling and only offer one of hundreds of different flavor combinations that you can experiment with.
Apples alone won’t give you all the essential amino acids you need, but they are high in Histidine, Valine, Phenylalanine, Methionine and Lysine–five of the nine essential amino acids that your body doesn’t produce naturally.
5. Avocadoes and Olives
Leucine and Isoleucine are two of the amino acids that vegans have the hardest time supplementing for because there are not as many foods that can they can eat that contain these amino acids. Avocadoes and olives are two foods that do supply these essential nutrients and also lend themselves well to combining with other foods rich in different types of proteins.
The key to making sure you’re getting enough protein when you’re a vegan is by mixing and matching the foods that are available to you. Each group (such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables and nuts) is limited in some amino acids and high in others. However, there is a lot of overlap between the groups. Grains are low in lysine, but high in methionine, while legumes are low in methionine and high in lysine. So, there is a balance between the available foods, but they just need to be combined to be effective overall.