What is Plant-Based Protein?
A plant-based protein, simply put, is a protein that comes from plants instead of animals. There are several edible plants that are excellent sources of protein. Many people believe that it's difficult to maintain a healthy, balanced diet if you give up meat, but it's actually very easy to.
In this article, we're going to look at different foods you can incorporate into a plant-based diet, how to easily replace meat, and why eating healthy is important.
Different Types of Plant-Based Protein
There are several groups of plants that are high in protein. They include: tofu, pulses, seitan, tempeh and edamame, nuts and seeds, quinoa, and Ezekiel bread. Let's take a closer look at each one.
Tofu is made from soybeans and is prepared from bean curds, similar to making cheese from milk curd. It's considered a whole source of protein as it provides the body with all of the necessary amino acids it needs. This makes tofu one of the richest sources of protein out there.
Tofu can be prepared in many different ways and with various spices as it absorbs whatever you add to it. This makes it an excellent substitute for meat proteins in your diet.
Tempeh and Edamame
These are also sourced from soybeans. Tempeh is made from cooking slightly fermented soybeans. Edamame is immature soybeans that need to be steamed and boiled before eating.
Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are rich in iron and calcium, making them great substitutes for dairy products.
Plants such as kidney beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas are high in protein. A cup of either beans or chickpeas can produce about 15 grams of protein. You can get approximately 18 grams of protein from a cup of lentils and nine grams of protein from a cup of split peas.
Lentils have other great nutritional benefits as they are rich in fiber, iron, and potassium.
Seitan is another excellent source of protein. It’s made from gluten. Out of 100 grams of seitan, you can get about 25 grams of protein. Seitan resembles meat in its look and texture, especially when cooked. This is why Seitan is often referred to as wheat meat.
Seitan also contains some iron, phosphorus, and calcium. It is rich in selenium which is a powerful antioxidant needed to help protect your body from diseases.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich in protein and many other nutrients. You can get 5–7 grams of protein from about 28 grams of nuts or seeds, depending on the type. For example, peanuts are protein-rich with 20.5 grams per cup and 3.5 grams per tablespoon of peanut butter. In half a cup of almonds, you can get up to 16.5 grams of protein, and they are a great source of vitamin E.
Seeds are generally very nutritional as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, good for the heart. Chia seeds are a complete source of protein, with 6 grams of proteins per 35 grams. Hemp seeds are also great sources of protein, with 5 grams per tablespoon.
Recently, quinoa has gained much fame, and it’s no surprise. Quinoa is a great protein-rich substitute for rice. It’s a complete protein from which you can get up to 8 grams per cup when cooked. It’s not just high in protein but also in manganese, magnesium, iron, and fiber.
This special type of bread is made from sprouted, organic whole grains and legumes. This bread contains 8 grams of protein per two slices. It has greater nutritional value compared to a lot of other types of bread.
Why Should I Eat Plant-Based Proteins?
Protein is one of the most important nutrients your body needs to function properly. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein required to grow cells, muscles, organs, tendons, bone, and body constitution. It is especially needed for the growth, repair, and maintenance of your body.
There are several concerns that a vegetarian or vegan diet might lack the necessary amount of protein needed for the human body to function well. It’s recommended that adults get a daily minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their weight or just over 7 grams for every 20 pounds. For example, a person who weighs 120 pounds should have a minimum of 42 grams of protein each day. A person who weighs 200 pounds should have a minimum of 70 grams each day.
How Can I Replace Meat with Plant-Based Protein?
This may seem hard to do, but it can be relatively easy. Sure, animal proteins are complete protein sources; they contain all of the amino acids that the body needs. But, if you want to replace meat with plants, getting the required amount of protein from a plant-based diet is easily achievable.
When switching to a vegetarian/vegan diet, you will need to consume a variety of plant-based proteins to get the necessary number of amino acids your body needs. It is then important that you incorporate foods like tofu, lentils, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, and seeds into your daily diet.
So whether you’re looking to switch to a plant-based diet, or you’re just looking to cut back on how much meat you eat, these plants will provide you with all the complete protein your body needs!
Tip: Research for interesting and delicious recipes. For example, one great thing I found out about tofu is that it absorbs all the spices and flavoring. I love adding soy sauce and small amounts of vegetable broth to tofu, it tastes amazing.