One question that I get asked frequently is in regards to protein sources for vegetarians and/or vegans. While I am not a vegetarian/vegan (never have been), I know many people who are. I can see the benefits of meat-free meals…although I am way too carnivorous to EVER give up meat. A plant based meal has many pros: they are usually cheaper to buy or prepare, typically lower in calories, and more often than not dishes are clean, lean and green. However, there is some debate over whether or not protein apart from animal meat is “complete.”
Pause for one moment. What am I talking about when I say a “complete protein?” Let’s break it down. The building blocks of protein are called amino acids, there are 20 amino acids that can form a protein, and 9 of the 20 cannot be produced by the body on its own, called essential amino acids. Because our bodies cannot produce them we need to consume them. A protein source that includes all 9 essential amino acids is considered to be complete. So, the question becomes can a vegetarian find a complete protein source outside of animal meal?
Veggies, rejoice. The answer is YES! You can!
Complete Protein Sources:
Hummus and Wheat Pita Bread
Rice (or lentils) and Beans
Other Plant Based Protein Sources:
Add any of these sources to salads, mix and match, or eat solo. Regardless of your preparation you’re guaranteed to get a hella serving of protein, feel satisfied, and be fueled for your workout or the day ahead.
Images via Healthy Haven.