Protein is an important component of our food.
Protein is essential for body building.
Insufficient protein contents are associated with several health issues.
In vegan diets, high protein foods includes traditional legumes, nuts and seeds. It is believed that they are sufficient to achieve full protein requirement in vegetarian/vegan.
Vegetarian diets have several issues related to their composition. These includes,
- A lack of consistency in definitions of vegetarianism,
- Heterogeneity among the vegan spectrum
- Dietary measurement error regarding protein intake
- Use of self-reported vegetarianism
- Doubts regarding the nutrient content of vegan diet
Thus, a clear idea about vegetarian diets is very essential for it full benefits.
A vegan diet can be broadly divided in following categories,
- Vegan (or total vegetarian) – They excludes all animal products such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
- Raw food, vegan: They are like vegan but exclude cooked food.
- Lacto-vegetarian: They do not eat meat, eggs, seafood and poultry but eat milk products.
- Ovo-vegetarian: They do not consume meat, seafood, poultry and dairy products but eat eggs.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: They do not eat meat, seafood and poultry but consume eggs and dairy products.
- Mediterranean: They consume plant-based diet along with very small quantity of chicken, dairy products, eggs, and red meat occasionally. In this use of fish and olive oil are encouraged.
- Whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat: They eat whole form especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds and nuts (in smaller amounts). In this total fat is generally restricted.
In the Indian culture, Vegetarianism refers to the exclusion of meat, fish, seafood and eggs and includes dairy products.
Vegetarian/ vegan diets is well known for low in saturated fat which produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control.
High intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds are characteristics of vegan diet and they are rich in fiber and phytochemicals.
Vegan diet and proteins
The main source of the protein in the vegan are the legumes.
Protein-rich foods such as traditional legumes, nuts and seeds, are good enough to attain full protein requirement in adults depending on vegan diets, while the question of any amino acid deficiency has been considerably exaggerated.
It is always controversial that the animal based food products are rich in protein compared to vegetarian/vegan diets.
There is misconception that certain plant foods are “missing” in specific amino acids is noticeably false. All plant foods contain all 20 amino acids, including the 9 indispensable amino acids. Rather saying “missing” indispensable amino acids, a more precise statement would be that the amino acid distribution profile is less optimal in plant foods compared to animal based foods.
Lysine, methionine and cysteine content in much lower than optimal proportions in vegan diet compared to the optimal requirement.
It has been estimated that plant based protein source (such as soy protein isolate, pea protein flour, wheat flour and lupine flour) were 89–92%, which is very similar to those found in eggs (91%) or meat (90–94%), and somewhat lower than of milk protein (95%).
Many of the industry has also developed plant analogs to animal-based foods for vegan communities (such as vegetarian patties) or dairy analogs for vegans (such as soy-based products such as tofu).
More detail about Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets can be read here.
Advantage of plant based protein
The eating of plant sources of proteins contribute lower risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease compared to animal based proteins.
Plant based amino acids modulate the secretion of both insulin and glucagon.
Soy protein and other vegan proteins are high in non-essential amino acids compared to animal-based food proteins. They favor preferentially glucagon production.
Many of the vegan diet (high in fiber and low in saturated fat) have insulin-sensitizing properties by down-regulating insulin secretion.
Plant based diet are rich in phytochemical which contribute to the reduction of cancer risk in vegans.
How to make protein supplement at home
Instead of using protein supplement powder from the market one can make very healthy and delicious protein supplement using nuts and seed.
One can use following components for making protein supplement;
- Almonds – 1/4 Cup
- Pistachio/ Pista – 1/4 Cup
- Peanuts/ Mumphali – 1/4 Cup
- Walnuts/ Akhrot – 1/4 Cup
- Cashew Nuts/ Kaju – 1/4 Cup
- Flaxseeds-1/4 cup
Method: Shallow fry each gradients separately in a frying pan without oil or ghee. After frying grind each gradients, mixed and stored in an air tight glass jar.
Take home message
Vegetarian diets more healthy and nutrient-rich compared to omnivorous diets. They are associated with several health benefits such as lower incidence of heart disease and total cancers, a decreased risk for all-cause mortality, and fewer incidences of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Person who are deficient in the protein contents can make their healthy vegan protein supplement using above composition.