10 Complete Vegan Proteins for an Incomplete World
For whatever reason, I get a LOT of requests for guest posts on my blog. I guess it's because my blog is just THAT popular and cool. I did, after all, win several years in a row for top vegan blog and vegan fitness blog. No big deal though. ;)
ANYWAY, enough gloating. The truth is, I almost always tell these guest writers "no." But today's post submission was different because I knew my beloved meatless meathead readers would genuinely dig it.
It's all about complete vegan proteins - something we vegan bodybuilders get chirped about often from our animal eating friends. What does "complete protein" even mean, you ask? Well, it all comes down to amino acids aka the building blocks of protein. There are eight (some argue nine) essential amino acids that our bodies require and the key trio that helps us to maintain muscle are leucine, isoleucine & valine.
Dead animal is a “complete” protein source meaning you can acquire all nine amino acids from it. However, most plants are NOT complete sources (excluding quinoa, soy and chia seeds.) But anyway, I don't want to steal our guest poster's thunder so let's get onto the article already and let him enlighten you on the topic instead.
Today's guest post comes from Richard Lister, a vegan writer and editor living in the vegan capital of the world: Los Angeles, California. Here 'tis!
10 Complete Vegan Proteins for an Incomplete World
Sometimes life is hard. The gym is too crowded, the weather is too weathery, and you’re absolutely sure that no one but you knows how to drive - there are other people on the road, jagweed! Lucky for you, some things are still easy, like getting all the protein you need from a plant-based diet. And I’m not talkin’ bland, lackluster proteins either. I’m talkin’ complete vegan proteins that taste great and will keep you ripped.
You see, it all comes down to amino acids
Amino acids are the little buggers that make up protein. Our bodies yank them from the food we eat and use them for our skin, eyes, heart, bones, and more. So much like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, they’re kind of a big deal.
In fact, our muscles rely on amino acids for tissue growth, blood flow, fat burning, and plenty more.
There are 20 different amino acids that make up a protein, and nine the body can’t produce solo. These are called Essential Amino Acids and need to be consumed through food. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are just a few of the aminos on that list that are important for keeping your bod on point.
Sound complicated? Let’s simplify it.
Cue the Kick Ass Complete Vegan Proteins
Listen, I love food, you love food, we all love food. Food is the best – especially when it’s easy and tastes amazing (yes, I’m looking at you pizza). Below is a list of simple, accessible, and scrumptious options for getting all of your essential amino acids in one shot.
What are you waiting for? Grab a fork and dig in!
Quinoa - Protein: 8 grams per cup, cooked
This fun little seed is so packed full of goodness that they call it a superfood (all of the other seeds are waaaay jealous). It’s loaded with fiber, iron, B6, and so much more – including protein, of course. Sub it for rice in almost any dish or dive into this bomb Quinoa & Pecan Salad that ups the ante with disease fighting cranberries.
Soy - Protein: 20-30 grams per cup
Oooo – yes please! All that protein makes me soy happy! Get it? Soy happy? No – not pun fans? Ahem, okay, moving on. The point is soy happens to be another stellar (and complete) vegan protein. Whether you’re going with tofu (20 grams of protein per cup) or tempeh (30 grams) just make sure you’re getting non-GMO products. Then get jacked with delicious dishes like Sam’s Vegan Quiche with Tempeh Bacon.
Whole Wheat Pasta and Peas - Protein: 12 g per cup pasta and ½ cup of peas
I know, I know, I should have saved my pun allowance for peas. Rookie mistake. But there’s still plenty to love about this entry – including the versatility of this complete vegan protein combo. Want it with marinara? Done. How about a little vegan pesto? No problem. Oh, you want to go old school and rock out with some macaroni and cheese? You might be my spirit animal. Regardless of how you whip it up, pasta and peas is sure to please!
Mycoprotein - Protein: 25 grams per cup
What? You don’t know mycoprotein? Well get familiar because this funky fungal beauty is packed with vegan protein. And it’s easy to find too! Companies like Quorn use it in their faux meats like burgers and “chik’n” cutlets. Just double check the label as mycoprotein is sometimes held together by egg whites.
Hummus and Pita Bread - Protein: 7 g per pita with 2 Tbsp. of hummus
Now listen, I’m listing hummus with pita bread because I know it’s a very popular dish, but personally, I’m all about that hummus on pizza. Yep, that’s right, there’s no bad way to pair hummus with grains. They complement each other perfectly and form a wholly delectable complete vegan protein.
Fun fact: Did you know that chickpeas date all the way back to 7500 BC? They were the protein that powered the Greek and Roman warriors!
Seitan and Soy Sauce - Protein: 22 g per 1/3 cup with 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce
Vital wheat gluten is one of the most adaptable vegan proteins around – you can bake it, boil it, bread it, or use it to flour bomb your little brother. Whatever you do with it, make sure to toss some soy sauce in with your herbs and spices to crank this body-shredding bad boy up to the complete vegan protein level. If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out Shani’s Seitan Recipe here.
Rice and Beans - Protein: 7 grams per cup
Simple, cheap, and packed with aminos, these two love birds are a better couple than Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (look it up, kids). You see, what rice lacks, beans have in spades, and vice versa. But that’s not to say rice is always loyal. It’s been known to enjoy hanging out with lentils and chickpeas too. That dirty dirty rice gets around. Speaking of dirty rice…
Peanut Butter Toast - Protein: 13 g per slice Ezekiel bread with 2 Tbsp. PB
Peanut butter toast is how I kick off every morning. There’s something about that nutty little legume that just goes so perfectly with toast and a banana. Granted, I don’t stop at 1 slice, but my addiction to PB is far too big of an issue to get into here. The important thing to focus on is that with PB and grains you’re getting a lot of high-quality protein packed into a convenient little package. It’s great for picnics, midday snacks, or anytime you want to go nuts. Eh? Nuts? Still not into puns? Tough crowd.
Ezekiel Bread - Protein: 4 grams per slice
While we’re on the topic of bread, let’s get biblical. Food for Life went ahead and nabbed a recipe from the Old Testament, named it after its verse (4:9), and created a complete vegan protein that’s great for any type of sandwich you can imagine. But you don’t have to converse with the almighty to feel blessed by this sprouted charmer. Everyone can enjoy its protein, fiber, and vitamin packed goodness.
Spirulina and Grains or Nuts - Protein: 4 g per Tbsp. plus whatever you add
Spirulina is loaded with that sweet, sweet cyanobacteria protein. In fact, 60-70% of its dry weight is made up of the muscle-builder. It’s also packed with antioxidants, B-vitamins, and nutrients that can actually improve your endurance (European Journal of Applied Physiology). Mix it with some nuts, oats, or grains and you’ll have yourself an absurdly nutritious complete vegan protein.
And there you go – 10 complete vegan proteins that are as tasty and convenient as they are healthy. All loaded with the fuel you need to kick butt, take names, and live a cruelty-free life.
- Rich Lister is a vegan writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. He can be contacted at richlisterwrites.com or email@example.com.
Always a question for Vegans. Where do we get our protein? Thank you for listing a few of the many great options that are out there.
Quinoa, thought of as a grain, but is it not a seed?