Tell someone that you are a vegetarian and it is quite likely that the first thing you will be asked is, “But where do you get your protein?” A vegan friend of mine used to say that she felt as though she spent a significant part of her life explaining vegetarian protein1 to people.
Consuming the right amount of protein is important but how does plant-based protein compare to proteins derived from meat?
Animal Protein vs. Vegetarian Protein
When digested, protein is broken down into amino acids which are required for most metabolic processes. The main difference between animal protein and vegetarian protein is the types of amino acids that they contain.
Animal proteins are regarded as “complete” since they contain all of the essential amino acids. Vegetarian protein are sometimes viewed as being “incomplete” as some may lack one or more amino acid.2
However, there are various plants that are “complete” such as hemp seeds, quinoa, chlorella, and bee pollen. Furthermore, it is easy to combine different plant foods to have complete protein in your meals.
What are the Health Benefits of Vegetarian Protein
The good news is that you do not necessarily have to be a vegetarian to benefit from a plant-based diet! You can simply incorporate more vegetarian meals into your lifestyle. In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately-planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” 3
These are 5 health benefits of vegetarian protein:
- You will lower your intake of cholesterol and unhealthy saturated fat which will lower the chances of heart disease.4
- Animal proteins have little to no fiber. A vegetarian meal provides a good source of fiber which will…