Debunking 5 Myths About Plant-Based Protein
Today’s consumers are hungry for information about nutrition and how best to
create a long and healthy life, and plants are the new star of the show. The
benefits of eating plants have been widely discussed, and an increasing number
of people are cutting back on meat for a wider variety of plant-based options. To
many people, “plant-based” means excluding animal products from your diet. But
how do you get enough protein without meat, eggs, or dairy? Plant-based protein
is often believed to be a weak alternative to meat, but in fact, it’s just as strong as
your meat-based options and provides extra nutrients and benefits. Here are five
common myths and why they might not be true.
Myth: Vegans and vegetarians have to struggle to get enough protein.
There’s a common misconception that those who don’t eat meat don’t get
enough protein. Thanks to advancements in agriculture and food science, plants
have become an incredibly reliable source of protein. It’s a misconception that we
need to eat meat to get enough protein in our diets. In fact, some of the highest
protein foods are legumes, whole grains, and nuts. For example, one cup of
chickpeas contains about 39 grams of protein—and this is just one example of
many. Indeed, many plant-based protein sources also provide higher quality
protein than animal-based foods. For example, quinoa boasts nearly double the
amount of protein like chicken breast.
Myth: Plants are only good for carbs and vitamins
The idea that everything in vegetables is carbs is a misconception. Carbs are
actually one of the three very important macronutrients (along with fat and
protein) needed to fuel your day. Vitamins and minerals, on the other hand, are
micronutrients and help your vital organs function optimally. Plants are actually
protein powerhouses. In fact, when you eat a variety, you can get all 9 of the essential amino acids, which are important for brain development, metabolism,
and muscle growth. Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods will ensure
you’re getting all the macronutrients and micronutrients you need.
Myth: It’s hard to find vegan/vegetarian sources of protein
If you’re worried about where to find vegan/vegetarian protein sources, fear not:
it’s actually pretty easy. First, remember that many of the most protein-rich foods
are plant-based. Legumes like beans and lentils, whole grains like quinoa, nuts,
and seeds, and vegetables like broccoli and spinach all contain plenty of protein.
Beyond these foods, if you’re in a pinch it’s easy to find vegan/vegetarian sources
of protein in more processed foods like protein bars, vegan protein powders, or
protein-rich snacks like edamame.
Myth: Vegan/vegetarian diets are highly restrictive
While it can be tough for a vegan or vegetarian to create a new diet without some
of the foods you love most, you don’t have to. Now on the market, there are tons
of plant-based milk, cheese, yogurt, and meat options so making the switch isn’t
quite as hard. The most important thing to remember is that any diet can be
restrictive if you’re not careful. If you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet,
make sure you’re eating a wide variety of vegetables, legumes, and grains. Avoid
going too far in either direction by replacing too many animal products with
starchy carbs like pasta, bread, and processed vegan meats.
Plants have become the new stars of the show thanks to their ability to provide a
wide range of nutrients. Protein is no exception. Protein from plants can be a
powerhouse that not only meets your protein intake, but also provides you with a
host of other benefits. To sum up, don’t believe the myths about plant-based
protein. Instead, focus on eating a wide variety of protein-rich foods, including
legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.