“Where do you get your protein?” That’s a question that all plant-based eaters are asked. While the question is harmless in and of itself, its prevalence speaks to the fact that many people lack knowledge or are misinformed when it comes to vegan protein. In fact, vegan protein myths are perhaps the most common misconceptions when it comes to plant-based food. Today, we’ll be busting some of the most pervasive vegan protein myths. By the end of this article, you’ll see vegan protein in a whole new light.
Myth #1: Plants don’t contain much protein
Did you know that all plants contain protein? Not only that, but at least 14 percent of the total calories of every plant comes from protein. The plant kingdom is brimming with foods that offer plentiful protein, along with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. For example, one cup of cooked lentils contains 16 grams of protein, three ounces of seitan contains 40 grams of protein, and BEAM’s vegan protein powder, which has a base of pea, mung bean, and pumpkin seed protein, contains 20 grams of protein per scoop.
Myth #2: You can’t get enough protein without animal products
Try telling this myth to a gorilla who shares 96% of its DNA with us! A gorilla’s plant-based diet provides more than enough protein to build strong muscle and function optimally—as long as the gorilla gets enough calories. Just as with gorillas, as long as a person consumes enough calories, becoming deficient in protein is highly unlikely.
Rather than focusing on the protein source, focus on hitting your macros (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). If you need help hitting your protein goals, consider using a vegan protein powder. From pancakes to smoothies, there are so many easy and delicious ways to add vegan protein powder to your diet.
Myth #3: Athletes can’t get enough protein from vegan sources
Think athletes can’t get enough protein? Allow us to introduce you to Patrik Baboumian, a world-record-breaking weightlifter and strongman who has been vegan for almost a decade. He’s not an exception, either. There are many other athletes out there who are completely powered by plants. Not only does a plant-based diet not pose any barrier to athletic performance, it actually offers some significant advantages. On top of increased strength and muscle, many vegan athletes report increased energy, increased blood flow, reduced inflammation, and increased muscle efficiency.
Myth #4: Vegan proteins aren’t “complete”
Many people believe that you need to combine vegan proteins in order to get all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for good health. The truth is, several plant-based foods are complete proteins while others are just missing one or two. There’s really no need to plan your meals around complete proteins. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, simply eating a variety of plant foods over the course of the day will provide all the amino acids you need.
The bottom line:
If you’re vegan, thinking about becoming vegan, or simply want to eat more plant-based foods, there’s no need to worry about protein. As long as you’re consuming a varied diet with enough calories, you’ll be getting plenty of this important macronutrient to support your health and fitness. Bonus? Research shows that eating a plant-based diet is better for your overall health. It’s a win-win!