“But where do you get your protein from?” has to be the number question that vegans here from non-vegans. As myths go, the non-vegan one that vegans are pale, weak, protein-deficient zombies is one of the bigger ones. So, it’s time to dismantle that myth. First though, a closer look at protein.
Protein is a vital building block component of all forms of organic life. Without it, you’re going to be having a bead day pretty quickly. It helps our bodies function, grow and repair themselves at a cellular level, like bone strength, muscle growth and healing. They are the building blocks of the body.
However, it turns out that those building blocks have their own building blocks too – amino acids. Amino acids are therefore critical to human health and come in two types – non-essential and essential. Eleven “non-essential” amino acids can be made the human body, whereas the other nine “essential” amino acids cannot.
Those nine essential amino acids need to be sourced external to the human body – and that is where diet comes in.
Many plant-based foods have some, but not all, nine essential amino acids, where as meat and eggs offer the full range. That is where the myth of vegans not getting enough protein comes from. And like all myths, they are there to be taken down!
There are any number of vegan foodstuffs out there that come with a full complement of essential amino acids, also known as “complete proteins.” Try any of the following, all vegan, for a full hit of all nine essential amino acids (and there are others):
- Nutritional yeast;
- Soy products and milk;
The bottom line is, vegans who follow a balanced diet, with just a very little research, can more than match an omnivorous diet for protein / essential amino-acid intake.
It also then comes as no surprise that there are a growing number of world class athletes that are vegans – boxers, football players, power-lifters, Olympians, tennis players and so on. And this trend continues to grow.