One concern for new vegans and some vegetarian is: can they get enough complete protein from eating just plant-source foods. The answer is “Yes”. Most complete proteins do come from animals, but there are several that come from plants. Here are five of the most popular.
QUINOA—looks like couscous, it makes a great substitute for rice either as a side dish or when added to a recipe. Along with being a good source of complete protein and fiber, it also contains iron, magnesium and manganese. One cup has 8 grams of protein.
BUCKWHEAT—not a member of the wheat family at all, its gluten-free flour is used to make waffles or pancakes, bread and baked goods. Cook the hulled kernels into a hot cereal similar to oatmeal. Studies show that buckwheat has many healthy benefits…lowering cholesterol, improving circulation and stabilizing glucose levels. One cup cooked has 6 grams of protein.
SOY—10-15 grams per ½ cup serving, depending on the soy product, is one of the most complete protein dense plant foods. Tempeh, natto, soybeans and tofu make for a good variety of soy products. A note on tofu protein content: the firmer the tofu the higher the protein amount.
RICE AND BEANS—each by themselves is not a complete protein. While beans are low in the essential amino acid methionine and high in lysine, rice is just the opposite, so serving them together makes a complete protein. They just naturally go good together, and eating them together creates a complete protein. One cup combined has about 7 grams of protein.
HUMMUS AND PITA—another combination that is good together, but each by itself is not a complete protein. Wheat protein in pitas is very similar in composition to rice flour in that is it low in lysine. However, chickpeas in hummus has plenty of lysine to make up the difference, so when eaten together, form a complete protein. One whole-wheat pita with 2 tablespoons of hummus = 7 grams of protein.
As a vegan, it is not as hard as many would lead you to believe to get enough complete protein in your diet to maintain good health. These are just five of the many sources available. Remember, non-complete sources can be made complete when paired with a plant-based source having a complementing amino acid profile to make the combination complete.