Plant based eating has been gaining popularity within the last few years. And you might be wondering how you could get more plant based protein in your diet without using things like tofu and tempeh at every meal. Later in this article we will discuss what foods need to be paired together in order for you to get a ‘complete protein’.
So, what is a complete protein?
Proteins are made up of amino acids. These amino acids are what are utilized by the body to run vital processes within the body. When we are deficient in amino acids we start to see unwanted symptoms and disease start to manifest. This was me 5 years ago when I was a plant based vegan. I avoided all types of synthetic plant based meat products such as tempeh and tofu. But what I was doing so wrong, was not understanding how I needed to have complete proteins with each meal and snack. There are 20 amino acids but 9 of them are essential. Essential amino acids are amino acids your body cannot make on its own. Meaning you need to consume these amino acids through food.
When eating an animal based diet you are receiving all 20 amino acids within each animal product you eat. Whereas with plant based eating you aren’t going to be consuming all 20 or all 9 within each meal. Unless you plan your meals accordingly. However, there are just a handful of plants that contain all 9 essential amino acids. These plants are hemp seeds, chia seeds, buckwheat, amaranth, spirulina, quinoa, and soy. But what if you want more variety in your diet and don’t want to include those 7 foods in your day of eating?
We’ve got you covered! Below is your complete protein combinations for plant based eaters cheat sheet!
As you can see, pairing grains, nuts, and seeds with a legume will provide you a complete protein source (9 essential amino acids). But I want to also give you some combination ideas that will hopefully spark your culinary creativity.
It is important to prioritize eating complete proteins every day. Depending on your lifestyle habits, goals, and health history you may need to eat more or less. I suggest working with a nutritionist to determine what course of action is right for you.