The new trend is to switch your eating habits to a more plant-based diet for health and the environment. Sounds good, however, there are some considerations to be aware of when it comes to obtaining the nutrients we need for optimum health. One of the most important is getting enough protein. Proteins are made up primarily of amino acids necessary for making body tissues, some hormones, and enzymes.
Animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk provide all the nine essential acids in sufficient quantity to qualify as complete sources of protein. Plant products such as quinoa and soy may also qualify. But most plant foods only provide some of the essential amino acids, but not all. Since these nine amino acids are not made by the body, they must be provided in the diet. If they are not available for protein synthesis, protein tissue synthesis ceases or is limited. They are not stored in the body for long so are used for energy instead.
Vegans eating no animal products can meet these needs by combining plant foods to yield complete protein. The goal is to eat a variety of plant foods regularly to provide all the nine essential amino acids necessary. Sources for protein for vegans include beans, peas, nuts, grains and soy products. Combinations to provide complementary amino acids to make a complete protein may include rice and black beans, hummus and bread, tofu and rice, a tortilla with refried beans (a burrito) and pea soup and bread.
Due to the rise in the recent marketing of plant-based burgers, here is the scoop from Harvard Health Publishing.