Veganism isn’t about being a healthy choice, or a diet, fad or trendy. It is a lifestyle choice individuals make, usually for humane, spiritual, religious and ecologically reasons. If you decide to adapt a vegan lifestyle there are a few things that need to be kept in mind.
- You can have an unhealthy vegan diet. I’m talking about buying processed, packaged ‘vegan’ alternatives at the shop. To ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from your vegan diet, you need to ensure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (including nuts and seeds).
- Be mindful of protein-combining. Animal-based proteins contain all 9 essential Amino acids and are considered complete proteins. There are only a few plant proteins that contain all the essential AA. However, this does not mean you can’t get all your amino acids into your diet, you just have to be smart and combine different varieties of proteins into your diet throughout the day
- Iron and B12 deficiency are common in vegans, however, many people eating a diet full of animal foods also have deficiencies. It’s all about balance.
In today’s blog, I’ll be discussing complete vegan (vegetarian) proteins that can be easily incorporated into a daily diet, and providing you with a sample day’s meal plan, with recipes included to get you started.
Complete Vegetarian Protein Options.
Quinoa, Buckwheat, Hemp Seed, Chia Seed, Soy, Quorn ( Mycoprotein)
Dietary sources of protein and the essential amino acids
The protein content of plant origin foods such as nuts, peas and beans (including peanuts) is very high and rivals that of meat and fish. Some vegetarians include eggs and/or dairy products as part of their protein intake. Cheese has similar levels of protein to meat and fish by weight, whilst egg is regarded as the perfect protein food for its ideal balance of amino acids.
Whether dairy products and/or eggs are included in our diet, plant foods provide a major part of protein intake. Pulses, such as quinoa, can form the basis of many types of meals and soya products such as milk, tofu, miso or ready made products like burgers and sausages are probably the most versatile source of protein. Nuts can be incorporated into breakfast and sweet or savoury dishes providing an energy-dense source of protein. QuornTM is a form of myco-protein – an edible fungus – and is sold in a range of different forms from mince to fillets.
Everyday foods that are normally regarded as carbohydrates such as rice and grains, pasta, breakfast cereals and bread contain significant amounts of protein and can play an important part in your intake. For example, 100g of wholemeal bread contains 9.4g of protein. Potatoes eaten in quantity also provide useful amounts of protein.
Of the eight essential amino acids two– lysine and methionine are given special attention in vegetarian diets. This is because compared with foods of animal origin such as eggs, milk and cheese various food groups of vegetable origin have an imbalance of either lysine or methionine. The food groups mainly in question are; cereals, such as wheat, oats and rice, and legumes; beans, peas and lentils.Wheat and rice proteins are comparatively low in lysine but better sources of methionine whereas beans and peas are relatively high in lysine yet in lower methionine. This has naturally led to the idea of cereals and legumes as ‘complementary’ proteins. In practice this means that meals that combine for example beans and rice or hummus and bread will provide a biologically ‘complete’ protein intake. It was thought until relatively recently that, as the body does not readily store amino acids it was essential for vegetarians to combine ‘complementary proteins’ at each meal. There has been some debate over this which has concluded that this isn’t strictly necessary, however it still has some advantages and seems a sensible way to approach a varied and complete diet.
Dietary requirements for protein (RNI)As with the other main food groups, fats and carbohydrates, an excess of protein in the diet will be treated by the body as a source of energy and in turn can be converted to body fat potentially contributing to obesity. Current official guidelines for protein intake suggest for adults a daily intake of 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight. Pregnant women should add 6g to this total and add 11g whilst in the first 4 months of breast feeding and thereafter add 8g per day for the duration of breastfeeding.
Recommended Protein Requirements for maintenance:
Average adult (19+) woman = 45g per day
Average adult (19+) man = 55g per day
Sample Day Meal Plan:
Breakfast: Smoothie made with Almond Milk, Banana, Cacao, Spinach, Kale, un-hulled Tahini, Avocado and hemp powder.
Morning Snack: Homemade Garlic Hummus and vegetable sticks. (cucumber, capsicum, carrot and celery).
Lunch: Tamari & Garlic grilled Portabello Mushroom, with curried vegetable rice stuffing. Served with side salad, add lemon, olive oil dressing. (Spinach, Cos Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot and red onion).
Afternoon Snack: Fresh juice: spinach, kiwi, cucumber, apple, kale, mint and spirulina. Handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts and pecans).
Dessert: Homemade Chia Puddingegards,
Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment