9 Complete Proteins Vegetarians (and Vegans) Need To Know About
So many women tell me that they don’t like eating meat and struggle to get adequate protein in their diet. It is easy to get enough protein without eating animals, but some people often have another concern: Are these meat-free protein sources complete?
The term “complete protein” refers to amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein, and nine that the body can’t produce on its own. These are called essential amino acids—we need to eat them because we can’t make them ourselves. In order to be considered “complete,” a protein must contain all nine of these essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts.
It just so happens that almost all animal-based foods contain complete proteins, while many plant-based foods are incomplete.
This doesn’t mean that vegans and vegetarians are in any danger of protein deficiency, this is a protein myth (even a moderately varied plant diet easily balances out any amino acid deficits). But it’s a fact that may nevertheless be relevant to protein-conscious veggie-dieters interested in maximizing the efficiency of their protein intake.
Luckily, there are a number of plant-based foods that do provide complete proteins. Here are the 9 best sources of complete plant protein, with tips on how to integrate each of them into the A-List Body Guide recipes, making it not only alkaline but a fully vegan/vegetarian plan.
Protein: 6g per 1 cup serving, cooked
Buckwheat is gluten free, as it is actually not a type of wheat but a relative of rhubarb. The Japanese created the amazing soba noodles from Buckwheat where other cultures use the kernels to replace oats or grind them into flour to make amazing gluten free bread and pancakes. Buckwheat is super healthy: Some studies have shown that it may control blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips for Vegetarians – The Salmon Soba Noodle Bowl Recipe- 10g of protein is just from the soba noodles and avocado and vegetarians can swap the salmon with 1 cup of cooked spinach (5g protein) plus 1 cup of peas (8g protein) and add 1/3 cup walnuts on top (7g protein) for a complete high protein vegan meal.
2. Sprouted Bread
Protein: 10g in 2 slices
When Barley, Wheat, Beans, Lentils, Millet and Spelt are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that is really similar to the protein found in milk and eggs and was actually originally described in the Bible. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. There are 18 amino acids present in this unique bread – from all vegetable sources – naturally balanced in nature. Find Ezekiel 4:9 and other brands in the fridge section of health food stores.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips For Vegetarians – This Monday snack is enjoyed with avocado and Himalayan pink salt but you can also swap the avocado for organic natural peanut butter, which will give you an extra 5g of protein.
Protein: 8 grams per 1 cup serving, cooked
Quinoa is an amazing vegan and gluten-free gift from Mother Nature. A complete protein source full of iron, fibre, magnesium, and manganese, quinoa is even versatile enough to make muffins and cookies from. Win! Comes in white, red and black varieties, with white working as a terrific substitute for rice. Red and Black Quinoa take longer to cook (4 mins longer and 6 mins longer respectively) and do not go as fluffy as the white. I prefer to not buy the tricolour packs because of this cooking time difference.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips For Vegetarians – Quinoa features nearly daily in the eating plan as it is a fantastic alkaline protein source. The Chicken Breast Rollup Recipe includes quinoa and is high in protein. Vegans and vegetarians can substitute the chicken with 1/2 cup firm tofu (10g protein), 2 tbsp hummus (3g protein) 1/2 cup of navy beans (4g), lemon juice, a few olives, chopped parsley and dill for a Mediterranean-inspired dinner.
Note: I don’t normally recommend soy products, but tofu and soy sauce on occasion are ok. If no soy allergies are present, fermented tofu can be a high protein alternative for vegans and vegetarians.
Protein: 4 grams per 2 tablespoon serving
Chia seeds are now used for more than just making fur on weird clay animals. When combined with water or milk they thicken and expand which make great tasting chia puddings, thicken your smoothie when stirred in after blending and can even replace eggs in vegan baking. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and they contain more fibre than nuts or flax seeds making them a great food for weight loss. So full of iron, magnesium, calcium and other vital minerals, this superfood will improve your health while giving you a protein boost.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips for Vegetarians – The delicious Chia Pudding snack recipe is so easy to make and also feel free to add chia seeds to all your morning alkaline smoothies. Add them into the Protein Pancake recipe for an even bigger protein breakfast on Sundays.
5. Beans and Rice
Protein: 7 grams per 1 cup serving
This is one of the best and cheapest vegan meals around and also one of the best sources of plant protein. While rice is low in lysine and high in methionine, beans are low in methionine and high in lysine so this awesome combo creates a complete protein meal equal to meat. Swapping lentils or chickpeas for beans produces the same benefits. Brown Rice (which has more fibre, protein and potassium than white rice) and Beans are also a great way to load up on protein and carbohydrates after an intense workout.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips for Vegans – The Turkey Salad With Brown Rice lunch recipe can easily be made vegan and complete by swapping the turkey for beans to the brown rice, salad and avocado. The best combo here would probably be mixed beans or chickpeas.
6. Hummus and Pita
Protein: 7 grams per 1 whole-wheat pita and 2 tablespoons of hummus
Like rice, the protein in wheat is only deficient in lysine. But chickpeas have plenty of lysine, giving us all the more reason to enjoy this delicious Middle-Eastern delight.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips For Vegetarians – The hummus goes so well in the Probiotic Veg Sandwich Recipe and feel free to add to any recipe where you are substituting the chicken or turkey. A tbsp of hummus to the Mushroom Burger is great for an extra protein twist and delicious in any of the quinoa or brown rice recipes for added creaminess.
7. Organic Vegan Protein Powder
Protein: 24g per serving
A blend of golden pea and brown rice protein in a powdered supplement can provide an easy and optimal complete amino-acid protein to your breakfast smoothie. Make sure you only buy certified organic products, not made from whey and with no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or stimulants. Check out the amazing organic vegan protein PranaOn which is high quality and tastes great.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips – I recommend adding an alkaline, vegan protein powder to your smoothies to balance them into a complete meal. Without sufficient protein, some people (definitely ones who score as a Protein Type on the Metabolic Typing Questionnaire) will be hungry in an hour after a smoothie if they do not balance it with a high amount of protein.
8. Spirulina with Nuts or Grains
Protein: 4 grams per 1 tablespoon
Contrary to popular belief, Spirulina is lacking in cysteine and methionine so is not a complete protein. All that’s needed to balance this though is something with plenty of these amino acids, such as seeds, oats, grains or nuts.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips – Add some spirulina and chia seeds to your Anti-inflammatory Green Juice and Detox Green Smoothie recipes for an extra protein and alkaline boost!
Protein: 10 grams per 2 tablespoon serving
Despite no evidence that consumers can get high from this cannabis plant derivative, there are bans in place in some countries. Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of all nine essential amino acids and are a rare vegan source of essential fatty acids. They can help to naturally fight depression and are full of magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium.
A-List Body Guide Recipe Tips for Vegetarians – Zucchini Pasta & Chicken Recipe: Swap the chicken for 1 cup steamed spinach (5g), 1 cup boiled peas (8g) and toss with Basil Hemp Pesto (10g) and enjoy!
Other recipes made Vegan/Vegetarian
The ‘Breakfast Dinner’ Recipe: Swap the omelette for:
Indian Beans and Rice
1/2 tin chickpeas
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
a thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
1/2 cup cooked brown rice.
Stir the curry powder and cinnamon into the chickpea and onion mixture. Fry for a minute, then add the ginger and tomatoes and their juices. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes no longer taste raw. Stir the coriander into the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sunday’s Protein Pancakes swapped for:
Vegan Protein Pancakes
1/3 cup coconut flour (or use 1/3 cup plant protein powder if you don’t like coconut flour)
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (to make them fluffy)
1/3 cup water
1/2 a mashed banana (= 2 eggs)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Blend in food processor and cook as normal. Makes 4 small pancakes. Top with melted blueberries and more cinnamon.
Enjoy these 9 great sources of alkaline, vegan protein. Complete cruelty-free protein which you can enjoy substituting into your A-List Body Guide Meal Plan. Let me know what you think about these vegan protein options and any other suggestions or questions you have in the comments below.