Vegan Protein. This the first question anyone asks if you tell someone you are a plantbased vegan diet.
What is protein?
Protein isn’t just for gym lovers and bodybuilders we all need it as part of a balanced diet!
Protein is a macronutrient which our digestive system breaks into their component molecules, called amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks and are in many different foods containing different amounts and combinations of amino acids. All cells and tissues contain protein, therefore protein is the essential maintenance of good health.
Protein also provides energy; 1 gram provides 17 kJ (4 kcal) providing the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy.
Protein second most abundant compound in the body, the following water. A large proportion of this will be muscle (43% on average) with significant proportions being present in the skin (15%) and blood (16%). We can make our own proteins but up to 30% of our muscle mass is made up of proteins only found in our foods as our bodies can’t make those itself.
Nutrition on Labels
Looking at the back of the food you buy is a nutrition label which lists the nutrition value of the contents.
‘protein’ as though it is one substance
Protein Rich Foods
Protein from animal sources like meat and dairy contains the full range of essential amino acids needed by the body. However, vegans and vegetarians can get all the amino acids they need by combining different plant sources of protein, e.g. pulses and cereals.
Protein can be found in animal foods like meat, poultry, fish and dairy, but that doesn’t mean vegetarians and vegans are out of luck. Seeds, beans, nuts, tofu and even peas are good sources, too.
Good sources of plant protein include nuts, seeds, pulses, mycoprotein and soya products. There are also small amounts in grains.
The amount of protein we need changes during a lifetime.