The building blocks of protein are amino acids. Our bodies can manufacture most of the amino acids that it needs to build proteins. This happens by the body using arts from carbs, fats, and other amino acids. With that being said, there are 9 amino acids that our bodies cannot manufacture (aka essential amino acids), and these have to come from food that we eat.
I was reading a little about this in”Being Vegetarian for Dummies” (one of my fave go-to books for vegetarian knowledge) this morning, which makes my point best: “Plants contain all the essential amino acids in varying amounts. Some plants are high in some essential amino acids, and low in others. It’s simple to get enough of what you need, even if you eat nothing but plant products and your diet contains no meat, eggs, or dairy products at all.”
It’s clear why people worry about vegetarians’ protein intake, as most of us learned as children that protein comes from milk, cows, chickens, and cheese. There are actually plenty of great protein options for vegans:
- Legumes (beans)
- Tofu, Soy, Soybeans
- Lentils (also included in the legume category)
- Whole grain pasta
- Falafel (made with garbanzo beans)
- Veggie burgers
- Soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk
- Tempeh (Similar to tofu, but different in texture. Made from gluten.)
- Tahini (sesame seed butter)
- Almond, cashew, or peanut butter
- Many types of veggies (ex: green beans,tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli)
So now you know, if you didn’t already. And it’s important to remember, too, that you can give your body too much protein, too. Many people have extremely high levels of protein in their diet, which can cause our bodies to lose calcium, increase our blood cholesterol level, wreaks havoc on our kidneys, and increases our risk of heart disease and cancer.