If you are thinking of becoming a vegan, or are one, the myths surrounding plant-based protein may be making your eating plan or life difficult. Do you have to combine items to form complete proteins? Is protein even important? Learn the myths and facts about getting healthy protein in a vegan diet and why it is very easy.
Fact: You Need the Nine Essential Protein Amino Acids in Your Diet
There are 20 amino acids that can make up proteins (although there are many, many more amino acids that have other purposes in our bodies), but nine are considered “essential” to the body. With all of the nutrition myths out there, it can be easy to think that this is a myth, too.
While this fact started as a scientific theory based on an experiment performed on just a few men, it was backed up using modern science technology. Food scientists looked into human genes, and within them, they found that our bodies have “built in instructions” on how to turn these specific amino acids into body tissues.
Will a new discovery one day find “instructions” that tell your body how to make tissue when we are lacking an amino acid or two in our diets? That would be impossible to answer right now. But, in the meantime, there is enough evidence that your body thrives with these nine amino acids that they should be included in a healthy diet until someone proves otherwise.
Myth: There Are No Vegan Foods That Are Complete Proteins
It is a very common myth that only meat, eggs, and dairy are “complete” proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids. There are actually several vegan foods that contain complete protein, but they just weren’t popular until recent years. These foods include quinoa, barley, soybeans, hemp seeds, and chia seeds.
If you want to eat complete proteins to stay on the safe side, then go for it. But read on to find out why you really don’t need to.
Myth: You Need to Eat Foods or Food Combinations That Contain Complete Proteins
You have likely read or heard from many sources that you must combine foods, such as beans and rice, to form a “complete protein” meal if you are not eating one food that contains a complete protein. The theory has been proven completely false.
Why? When eating a varied plant-food based diet, your body will combine the amino acids it gets from the “incomplete protein” sources on its own, whether you eat them in the same meal, during the same day, or even during the same week. You don’t have to eat every single amino acid at every meal to stay healthy.
Think about it: You don’t need every vitamin and mineral at every meal, so why would you need the amino acids all at once?
So, if the vegan “complete protein” foods don’t fit into your eating plan or you just don’t like the taste of them, eat other good sources of vegan protein, like peas, beans, dehydrated tomatoes, kale, broccoli and many more healthy plant foods.
As a vegan, you do need to eat some protein, but don’t stress out over it! You don’t have to combine foods or worry about whether your foods contain complete protein.