Protein Alternatives

Vegan and Vegetarian participant numbers have grown over the years.  Whether the participants believe that it’s better for the environment, cheaper, or lower in calories, it’s their choice. But are the meat free protein choices complete? A complete protein refers to amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which can not be produced by the body alone. These essential amino acids need to be consumed. To be a complete protein, it must contain all 9 of the essential amino acids. 

Eggs and dairy are able to give you your variety. But there are ways to get a complete protein that isn’t delivered from meat. 

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is full of fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese. It has 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, cooked.

2. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb that we typically see as Japanese soba noodles. Buckwheat seeds can also be grinded into a flour, or the kernels can be cooked like oatmeal. It has 6 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, cooked. 

3. Soy

Soy is a complete protein, and is mostly known for tofu.  It has 10 grams per 1/2 cup serving. 

4. Mycoprotein (Quorn)

Mycoprotein is under the mushroom family and is usually paired with egg whites. It has 13 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving.

5. Rice and Beans

In this dish, rice and beans bring together parts of the essential amino acids. Beans have lysine while rice has methionine. Rice and beans are a great combination to up your protein and carbohydrate levels. It has 7 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. 

6. Ezekiel Bread

The Ezekiel bread is traditionally Jewish, with the combination of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. This loaf contains all of the essential amino acids. It has 8 grams of protein per 2 slice serving.

7. Seitan

Seitan was created as a meat substitute by Chinese Buddhist monks.  It is a mix of gluten, herbs and spices, water and is simmered in a broth.  It needs to be added to soy sauce in order to be a complete protein. It has 21 grams per 1/3 cup serving.

8. Hummus and Pita

Hummus and pita together gives us the essential amino acids. It has 7 grams per 1 whole wheat pita and 2 tablespoons of hummus. 

9. Spirulina with Grains or Nuts

Spirulina is not a complete protein on its own, with the addition, it is packed with 4 grams of protein per 1 tablespoon. 

10. Peanut Butter Sandwich

Legumes and grains together create a complete protein. It has 15 grams of protein per 2 slice sandwich with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.