Not all proteins are created equal! Meat-free meals are nearly always cheaper, lower in calories and better for our environment. But the same question always come up- can you get enough protein without meat? Are there meat-free protein sources that are complete? Yes and YES! The term “complete protein” refers to amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different amino acids that come from a protein, 9 of which the body cannot produce on its own. These 9 amino acids are called essential amino acids- we need to get them from food because we can’t physically make them. To be called “complete”, a protein must have all 9 of these essential amino acids.
We don’t need every essential amino acid in every meal; we just need enough of each amino acid everyday. And most dieticians believe that plant-based diets contain such a wide variety of amino acid profiles that you’re guaranteed to get all of your amino acids one way or another. Here are our some of our fave complete, meat-free proteins:
1. Buckwheat Protein:
6 grams per 1 cup serving, cooked
Buckwheat actually isn’t a type of wheat at all, it’s a relative of rhubarb! Most people eat the seeds by either grinding them into flour (great base for gluten-free pancakes!) or cooking the hulled kernels, or “groats,” similarly to oatmeal. Buckwheat is an insane superfood with high proportions of manganese, magnesium and fiber.
2. Quinoa Protein:
8 grams per 1 cup serving, cooked.
Chock full of fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Quinoa is the perfect substitute for rice or pasta in any dish!
3. Chia Protein
4 grams per 2 tablespoon serving
Did you know that chia seeds are the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acid? Chia is also a powerhouse of fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and antioxidants. They form a goopy gel when combined with milk or water, making them perfect for making healthy puddings, thickening smoothies.
4. Hempseed Protein:
10 grams per 2 tablespoon serving
Hempseed contains significant amounts of all nine essential amino acids, as well as magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. They’re also a rare vegan source of essential fatty acids, like omega-3s, which can help fight depression!