One of the biggest and most common questions you will hear if you decide to become a vegan or vegetarian is “Where do you get your protein?” It seems like it is the only cause for concern by any carnivore, and it usually comes from a place trying to discredit your ability to do so. I am surprised how many people could actually care about my protein intake, vegan or not. I can’t imagine someone asking me how I got my protein if I was on any other type of diet. Perhaps I am just calloused to the question, and maybe their intentions are good, but I can assure you, as someone partaking in a plant based diet, I am getting my protein just fine, and in heaps, from the various plant sources that are available. Certainly I am taking more care of my protein intake than the one chicken breast they are eating a day.
Many ideas around protein are quite antiquated, and the idea that we need a gram of protein per pound of body weight is not only excessive, but without proper fitness, rather taxing on the body. Although protein plays a large part in rebuilding muscle fibers after a workout, and helping you stay strong, it is not the magic compound that some would have you believe. When you adopt a plant based diet, it helps you unlearn the habit of organizing all your meals around the centerpiece of meat, and allows you get acquainted with the wide world of delicious and filling protein-rich recipes that can be created from a non-animal source.
Vegetarian or not, it is medically recommended to divide your calories into a healthful percentage. Most health conscious doctors would agree that you divide your daily calorie intake into 50 percent carbohydrates, which include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, 30 percent healthy fats, and 20 percent protein. Even at this recommendation, you still are only having an intake of about 100-150 grams of protein on a 2,000 calorie diet.
There is also another myth regarding vegetable protein sources. Many people (at least in the gym community) will tell you that vegetarian protein sources are incomplete and must be correctly combined with other protein sources for you to gain any benefit. Fortunately research has discredited that, so worrying about getting enough usable protein is futile, and you don’t have to put together some sort of magical combination of protein sources at every meal.
Eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, and soy products will make sure you have an adequate amount of protein. There are many processed foods as well, packed with protein that are imitation meat products. These products help make the transition easier to a plant based diet, and also can taste pretty similar to the foods you are trying to eliminate.
Another option, especially for people that are extremely active or trying to build muscle, and also for those who are trying to lose weight (as it keeps you full) are protein powder shakes. There are many vegetable sources of protein powder available, my favorites being rice, hemp and pea. They are usually naturally flavored and an extremely delicious addition to any smoothie or shake.
Protein powders can also be added to recipes, and without any further adieu, I present to you a delicious recipe for Protein Pancakes (all vegan, of course).
Vegan Brown Rice Protein Pancakes
Makes 2 Servings
1 cup apple sauce, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla rice milk (or soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
1 cup all-purpose flour
One serving size of vanilla flavored rice protein powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Olive oil spray
Syrup of your choice.
Optional Toppings: fresh fruit of your choice.
Whisk together rice milk, applesauce and vanilla extract. Set aside
Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
Spray olive oil lightly to cover a frying pan over medium heat.
Add a quarter cup of the batter into the pan. Flip once bubbles have formed and popped (approximately 2 minutes per side)
Top with fresh fruit and syrup.
This conversation is sponsored by Alomune. All opinions expressed are strictly my own.