Vegan Protein - An Oxymoron?

The Misconception

“You’ve got to eat your eggs if you want real protein!”, “You’re on a vegan diet! What do you do for protein then?”, “Bhaiya yeh Ghaas phoos Khaoge toh body nahi banegi!”, “Beta yeh sab khana chodh doge toh kamzor ho jaoge!” Have you ever heard these phrases? Be it from your Gym Buddy, your Friends, your trainer or your own family members, these phrases are often encountered by the people who’re trying to go vegan. The reason for this, is their perception of the fact that protein, which is essential for good health, can’t be found in sufficient quantities in plant-based foods. While the reason may sound obvious, there is a lot that has gone on behind the scenes for them to believe what they do today. Let’s take a deeper look into how these preconceptions were created.

Conception of the Preconceptions

Before we talk about how the preconceptions were created, let us first clarify what the preconception actually is. The real preconception is that high levels of protein can only be found in eggs, meat or paneer. The reason behind this is that for decades now, people have been educated about the protein benefits of eggs, meat and paneer while not being told about any other food items with similar levels of protein content. Also, the information that they received for all these years came from trustworthy sources. Therefore, when people are now told that even plant-based foods have high levels of protein, they find it hard to believe this because for decades, this information was never shared with them. Add to this the fake or incorrect information spreading that people have recently started doing to safeguard their own interests, and we are left with a sizable chunk of population which will either immediately discredit or dismiss any information that goes against their preconceived notions or find it incredibly hard to digest the new information unless it comes from an extremely trustworthy source. The final straw in this haystack is the massive amount of money and lobbying which has been done by the meat and dairy industries, which all but ensured that for decades together, people never got to know about the benefits of plant-based foods. Now that we’ve discussed in detail how these preconceptions came to be, let us look at the reality of plant-based foods and their protein content.

The Facts

Contrary to popular belief, there are a wide variety of vegan ingredients or dishes which have high protein content. With these sources, you get the benefit of lesser fat content than meat or dairy based alternatives, which in turn boosts muscle growth, satiety and weight loss. Apart from this, there are 2 main differences between plant and animal proteins, one is the presence of cholesterol and the other is the amino acid profile. As far as cholesterol is concerned, plant-based protein clearly has an upper hand as they have no cholesterol, which cannot be said for animal-based proteins. When we talk about amino acid profile, animal-based proteins get an advantage as almost all of them have all of the 20 essential amino acids, whereas most plant-based proteins lack 2-3 of these amino acids. To counteract this issue for the benefit of consuming cleaner protein which has less cholesterol, certain other additions can be made to our existing meal plans, so that we get all of the nutrients necessary. For e.g., adding lentils or beans to our diets can fix the lack of lysine whereas adding sesame, pumpkin, sunflower or chia seeds can provide Methionine.  Just these simple additions can make a vegan diet as wholesome as a dairy or a meat-based diet while having no cholesterol. For a more in depth look into protein in meat vs plants, you could read Dietbitz’s article.

William.J.Ripple rightly said,  “Consumption of high-protein plant foods such as soy, pulses, cereals and tubers can satisfy protein requirements that are associated with fewer environmental impacts than livestock or wild meat, while yielding significant human health benefits.”

Protein Levels in Various sources

While some people may start to believe that plant-based foods could also be used as protein sources, some thoughts such as “Oh I must have to eat a lot of this to get as much protein as I did with 12 eggs!” or “Yeah vegan sources of protein sound okay, but for bodybuilding, i'll need some actual, heavy duty protein!” may still be left unanswered.

Let’s now shed some light on protein levels and bust the myths about there being a “heavy duty protein” and a “lite protein”. Apart from the differences in amino acids and cholesterol mentioned above, protein remains exactly the same, irrespective of the source that you obtain it from. The reason for some people feeling that one protein is more heavy duty than the other, can be attributed to the differences in satiety that they may feel after the 2 different meals. This difference occurs due to the calorie-dense nature of animal-based products, where the animal-based foods make you feel a lot fuller thanks to their high calorie concentration. This feeling of ’fullness’ is what people confuse as them consuming better or more protein.

Now we’ll cover an exhaustive list of vegan food items and how much protein content they have, so we urge you to buckle up because what follows might be a revelation of epic proportions.

Vegan Protein Sources

The items in the list mentioned above can also be found in the infographic put down below for your convenience.

This vast list of vegan ingredients should be enough to, at the very least, get anyone up and running with meals that not only taste great, but also get you closer to that ultimate physique, all on a protein rich vegan diet.

In addition to this list, we’d also like to share with you this list of vegan protein powders so that you can work on your protein intake without any hassle.

Here is what some of our customers had to say about the vegan protein powders that they purchased from us.

Robert G. - Tasty protein powder that seems to be helping with my weight-gain goal. Thank you!

Ashok K - Good product, first plant protein I found with complete AMINO acid profile!

James - The best plant protein powder in the market!

Shreekant - Good taste and effective mix of required nutrients!

Alegriya - It's best for all the vegetarians. My mom and I have been having this for the last 3 weeks. Till now we really liked it. Hoping to get more good results!