A growing number of people are now choosing to reduce their meat consumption. There are many reasons for this, including ethical and environmental reasons.
While typically people associate less meat with going vegan or vegetarian, you don’t have to go completely vegan or plant based. ‘Flexitarianism’ is growing in popularity. This is where people reduce consumption of certain animal products such as meat but don’t cut anything out completely either. Instead, they make a conscious effort to reduce their overall consumption.
Many people depend on meat as their sole protein source. When moving to a diet lower in animal products, they wonder about their protein intake. Where should they source their protein from? Are plant based proteins the same as animal proteins? Do you need to eat meat? Are there non-meat sources of protein? Lots of questions which we want to address!
Is the protein in plants the same as protein as from meat?
The short answer to this is – Yes and No! Both proteins (protein from plant and meats) is made up of amino acids. Animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy are what are known as complete proteins, as they are complete with all the essential amino acids (EAAs) our body cannot make, and therefore must get from our diet. Plant based sources such as beans, peas, lentils and nuts are known as incomplete proteins because they don’t supply all the essential amino acids and are therefore incomplete.
Isn’t quinoa a complete protein?
Quinoa is an exception as it contains all the EAAs. However, quinoa is a grain and while it does contain protein, the serving size required to get a serving of protein is very large! All the research points toward 20-25g of protein being an optimal serving to stimulate muscle protein synthesis So in the case of quinoa, you’d need to eat a lot of quinoa (The equivalent of about 650 kcals).