Vegan diets and protein. As a vegan, this is honestly one of the most common questions that I get asked. One of the biggest misconceptions in today's society is that you have to consume meat in order to get enough protein. When in reality, you do not at all!
Protein is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. It plays various roles in our body, from synthesis and repair of muscle, as an energy source and also has structural and functional roles in enzyme, hormones and antibodies. Amino acids are the building block of proteins. Of the 20 amino acids that we find in proteins, nine are essential. This means, we need to get them from our diet as our body cannot create them.
The amount of protein you need depends on your gender, age and activity. According to Australian Nutritional Reference Values, approximately 15-25% of our diet should be from protein. This is equivalent to about 0.84g protein per kilogram of body weight for males 19-70 years old, and 0.75g protein per kg of body weight for females 19-70 years old.
Proteins can be found in both animal and plant food. Although the amino acid profile of animals is closer to that of humans, all the necessary amino acids can be provided in the amounts needed from plant sources. Plant proteins also carry other benefits including being a fantastic source of dietary fibre which assists in improving digestion, maintaining healthy bowel habits and lowering cholesterol.
So what are the best sources of protein on a vegan diet?
Kiah Paetz is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and owner of Plant Nutrition and Wellness. She has a special interest in vegan diets and currently practices out of clinics in Brisbane CBD and North Lakes.