Veganism may have been a buzzy, hipster trend in recent years, but it has definitely been around for ages. The popularity of veganism in recent years may have stemmed not only from calls against animal consumption and cruelty, but as well as an increased emphasis on leading a healthier lifestyle and one that is largely sustainable for the environment.
With such apparent needs and changes in society’s food consumption, there has been a rise in the demand for plant-based food on the market today. As a matter of fact, even restaurants and high street markets have slowly incorporated numerous menu and food items to cater to the ever-growing vegan community.
In order to catch up to the flourishing veganism trend that has surely trickled into the mainstream, more and more plant proteins are being explored by vegans and vegetarians alike who are venturing into this diet and lifestyle to eat healthier. With healthy eating comes the need to take in a variety of plant-based proteins, but what exactly are these and how can these fit into a vegan diet? This article will get into the nitty-gritty of it all.
What are Plant Proteins?
Simply put, plant proteins are types of proteins that come from plants. This is a type of food source that consists mostly of globulins. These globulins are usually the predominant storage proteins in seeds such as legumes and cereals. These seeds, on other hand, contain albumins.
Plant proteins are considered incomplete sources of protein, with the exception of the likes of soya and quinoa, particularly when compared to animal proteins. This is because these types of protein sources are found lacking in on one or more of the essential amino acids needed by the body.
To address the deficit that these plant proteins have, combining or complementing proteins with one another is vital. This process requires people to combine two or more of these ‘incomplete’ plant proteins to achieve the full spectrum of amino acids required by the body.
Given that grains, seeds, pulses, and other plant proteins have different essential amino acids, so eating from and combining these groups can get eaters a complete protein source in return.
Different Sources of Plant Proteins
The different plant proteins emerging on the market today are a testament to the demand that veganism, as well as vegetarianism, has on the public today. Thankfully, purely plant-based consumers can still get enough protein without having to consume animal products. What’s more, these alternatives are touted as healthier since they bear relatively fewer calories and are good for the environment.
Some of the examples that are most prevalent in markets everywhere we look are legumes. These include lentils, chickpeas, peas, peanuts, black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Edamame and soybeans also fall under this category.
Apart from this, nuts and seeds are also good sources of plant proteins. Almonds, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are just some of the great sources for those in need of plant proteins.
Soy products such as tofu and tempeh are also wonderful sources of plant proteins. Seitan, made from vital wheat gluten, is also one of these products that can be considered. These are filling and meatier alternatives, alongside vegan meats from the likes of Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.
Vegans looking to amp up protein consumption can also turn to whole grains such as rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, spelt, teff, and millet. Those who are observing a vegan diet will also benefit from consuming non-dairy milk such as soy milk, oat milk, and pea milk.
Besides the aforementioned options, both fruits and vegetables also offer smaller amounts of protein when consumed. Some of those that offer higher quantities of protein in them are artichokes, broccoli, corn, banana, spinach, and sweet potato.
Incorporating Plant Proteins Into a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is solely plant-based. This means that those who practice this ensure that the food they consume revolves mainly around foods derived from plants. Here, practitioners of this lifestyle typically center their food consumption on fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Because plant proteins are, you guessed it, derived from plants, adapting these food items into a vegan diet would not require much change, unless you are switching from a vegetarian lifestyle or one that subsists on animal products.
To give beginners a helping hand, and even more seasoned practitioners an idea of how to incorporate plant proteins in their vegan diet, the key is starting slow and small, as with everything else.
Those who are fond of breakfast food would do well to add more nuts and grains to their first meal of the day. Nuts and seeds can be mixed into yogurts and oatmeal, and even added to salads and smoothies for added nutrients and texture.
For those who are looking for a meat substitute and who want a more filling alternative, soy products such as tofu can be added to a vegan diet. Not only is it considered one of the richest sources of plant proteins, but it also makes for a versatile ingredient – from being used in tofu scrambles, stir-fries, stews, sandwiches, and more. As it takes on the flavor of the dish being prepared, tofu and other soy products are a worthy option to be considered.
Quinoa is one of the superfoods that is making waves in the industry, especially as this is a great alternative to rice and can be added to anything, including salads and stews. This grain contains high amounts of protein and is one of the plant proteins that are considered ‘complete,’ with one cup of serving providing eight grams of protein. Plus, this is also rich in fiber, iron, and magnesium.
A vegan diet can boost your immunity and give practitioners of this lifestyle a healthier approach towards living their life. With these options, you can have an extensive array of choices to pick from to get all the protein you need while on the vegan diet.