Animal products contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need to build protein. Most plants, unfortunately, are missing one or two of these building blocks. To make sure that your vegan diet is complete, you’ll want to add one or more of the following items into your everyday meals.
Soybeans, tofu, and edamame all come from the same source: the soybean plant! This legume contains all 20 amino acids the human body needs, and there are various ways to process or cook this wonder plant. Don’t like the chalky taste of beans? Go for tofu. You can even grill or fry this versatile soy product, making it a perfect vegan substitute for a 4th of July hotdog.
Like soybeans, lentils are a legume that pack all your essential amino acids. While most know it only from lentil soup, this versatile legume can be used in so many ways. Try making a vegan lentil chili or mash them into a vegetarian burger. The texture of lentils will hold the patty together and you can even grill it to give the edges a bit of a crunch.
Chickpeas lend themselves to a variety of delicious recipes, but they’re most famous for being the base ingredient of hummus. Season the dip with garlic, red peppers, olive marinade, basil or any other spices or herbs you like. Pour some pita chips into a bowl or warm up a round of whole-grain pita bread to enjoy a high protein, high fiber, low-fat snack.
Nuts and nut-products
If the texture of beans isn’t for you, there are some crunchy alternatives. Nuts make for great garnish on vegan dishes and are perfectly filling as a midday snack. But best of all, they are high in protein and healthy fats. Nuts are also great in butter form, whether you enjoy classic peanut butter or trendy cashew and almond butters.
Seitan is made from a wheat protein also known as gluten. While this chewy product contains lots of amino acids, it is low in lysine because it comes from wheat. But that just means it’s a good addition to a well-balanced diet. If you eat a variety of plants and plant-products, lysine deficiency shouldn’t be a concern.