As a vegan, getting enough protein can be tricky. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based sources of essential amino acids that you need for your body to function properly. In this guide, we’ll explore the different vegan options and give you tips on which foods to include in your diet to get all the essential amino acids.
Get Familiar with Essential Amino Acids and Their Sources.
There are 20 essential amino acids, nine of which your body cannot produce on its own and must obtain from the diet. Different plant-based sources provide different levels and types of amino acids, so it is important to mix several sources to get a full range. Nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and certain vegetables are all great sources of amino acids that vegans can turn to for their protein needs.
Find Plant-Based Foods Rich in Protein and Amino Acids.
Plant-based foods such as tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, seitan, quinoa, and oats are some of the best sources of amino acids for vegans. Nuts like almonds and walnuts are also full of essential amino acids. Certain vegetables like spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus are good sources of complete proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids.
Learn About Dietary Supplements for Amino Acid Needs on a Vegan Diet.
For those on a vegan diet struggling to get enough amino acids from their diet, there are other options available. Amino acid supplements, such as vegan branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and L-glutamine are recommended for individuals with an active lifestyle or athletes who need to support their muscle development. While vegan protein powders such as pea protein or hemp protein powder can supply an individual on the vegan diet with additional protein and amino acids, they should not replace whole food sources of protein in one’s diet.
Use Food Combining to Maximize Nutrient Intake from Plant-Based Sources.
To maximize your vegan-based protein and amino acid intake, consider different combinations of foods to add up to more complete proteins. For example, pair legumes with rice; nuts or seeds with lentils; beans with tortillas, bread, or cereal; or hummus with whole-grain pita bread. Incorporating food combining into your meals is an excellent way to make sure you’re getting all the essential amino acids you need on a vegan diet.