Simple answer... plants! Protein is made up of 20 amino acids, and 9 of those amino acids are "essential", meaning our body doesn't make them, we need to consume them from our diet. Fun fact for you - ALL whole plants contain ALL essential amino acids! Since protein was discovered, people all around the world have considered it THE macronutrient for health, but this, sadly, isn't the case (in the plant based world, we argue that fibre and water are THE nutrients essential for good health). It's true that it IS important for our health, but more of a good thing does NOT equal a good thing in the case of protein. Too much protein stresses our kidneys and liver, as excess needs to be excreted. So, how much is enough? It's estimated that we need around 8-10% of our calories from protein, even athletes and bodybuilders. This is EASILY achievable on a whole food plant based vegan diet. As long as you're eating enough calories for your body's needs, you will easily get enough protein. Doctors are not treating people for diseases of protein deficiency, but, sadly, they are treating people for diseases of protein excess! Just eat whole plant foods, and you'll get enough. You do not need protein supplements, powders, bars, or any other gimmicks designed to drain your wallet. Just eat real food, like all the other herbivores on this planet that get enough protein without even knowing what protein is!
The same place the cow gets her calcium from - plants. Cows don't MAKE calcium, they need to consume theirs as well, and it's excreted in their milk. Calcium is a mineral that comes from the earth, plants absorb it.
Foods rich in calcium include kale, bok choy, sweet potato, tempeh and black beans.
There's lots of misinformation about soy. But consider this... BILLIONS of Asian folk have thrived for millennia on a diet high in soy, and before the westernisation of their diet, they saw very low rates of the diseases that soy is accused of affecting, such as breast cancer & prostate cancer. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds that look and act a little like estrogen hormones, however soy has been shown to be protective against the effects of high estrogen levels, reducing rates of estrogen-fed cancers. Soy is also great for helping reduce the hormonal effects women's monthly cycles, as well as help reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Generally you can get all of your vitamins and minerals from whole foods - this is nature's way of delivering us our nutrients (not pills or potions!).. There are a few nutrients of focus, but in short the only supplement you 100% should take is a B12 supplement. B12 is a microbe that has been stripped from our soils and waterways, so we no longer get it from our food. Farm animals don't make it, they too have to be supplemented. So, don't mess with this, just take a supplement.
For any other requirements, you're best to get a blood test to see what may or may not be missing. Some people who don't get enough sunshine, or who have darker skins, may need a D supplement. Some people struggle with iron (particularly women who've had babies). But please don't supplement blindly without knowing where your levels sit at currently, as this can either be dangerous to your health, or a complete waste of your hard-earned cash.
SeeKerryn Sawyer's guidefor more details on nutrients of focus.
More questions you would like answered? No problems!
Contact our Plant Based Coach Kerryn Sawyer who can assist your journey and any questions you may have along the way.