More and more people around me have started eating less meat and fish or have stopped eating them altogether. Even veganism, which used to be just a ‘hippie’ thing, is hot now. We are becoming more and more aware of what we eat and an increasing number of people are starting to realize that what we put on our plate has an influence on the world around us.
But how can you ensure that you’re getting enough protein in your plant-based diet? Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. They are very important for the growth and development of the body and are essential for building muscles and organs. This is particularly true if you are very active. In first two hours after you work out, your cells are especially receptive to nutrients. If you eat protein-rich food after working out, you’ll recover more quickly from the exertion.
Most people take in sufficient protein from meat, fish and dairy, but as a vegetarian or vegan, you need to need to ensure sure that you get extra protein from other sources.
Healthy, plant-based sources of protein include:
– quinoa, buckwheat, oats and teff
– green vegetables such as spinach, kale and green beans
– legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or hummus
– kidney beans, brown or white beans
– organic tofu of tempeh
– nuts or nut butters
Do keep in mind that some plant-based proteins are not complete proteins as they lack certain essential amino acids. Examples of this are beans, peas, nuts, seeds and many grains. Our bodies are not able to make full use of these proteins. By combining beans, lentils or peas with brown rice, for example, you’ll create a complete, protein-rich meal. Other combinations that create complete, protein-rich meals include egg and goat cheese, spelt pasta with cheese or spelt bread with hummus.
The five plant foods that do contain complete proteins and can thus function as the primary source of protein in a meal are: quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, fermented soybeans and blue-green algae (e.g. spirulina and chlorella).
These meat alternatives contain complete proteins, minerals like iron and B-vitamins. It’s important to take a vitamin B-12 supplement if you are a vegan. This vitamin only occurs naturally in animal-based products and is necessary for the production of red blood cells and for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Tasty, protein-rich recipes include green smoothies with spinach or kale to which you can add extra spirulina or chlorella, a hemp smoothie, a veggie omelet, dishes with hummus or this delicious, post-work out salad with chickpeas.