Less meat, more plants is a common theme we’re seeing in the nutrition world as sustainability takes higher precedence. As such, we’ve see an uptick in the popularity and availability of packaged vegan foods and plant-based sources of protein. If you’ve been curious about eating less meat, or going full vegetarian or vegan, the current COVID-19 pandemic might make the decision a little easier for you. This unprecedented time has impacted food availability across the entire food supply chain. Some major companies have expressed concern about the availability of beef, chicken, and pork to American consumers.
On trips to the grocery store, American’s are finding emptier than usual meat aisles and some popular fast food restaurants are out of meat altogether. The challenge will continue into the foreseeable future and has seen many Americans becoming more aware about what they’re eating.
First, you should understand the difference between plant-based sources of protein vs. animal protein, which can be found here. The main being their amino acid content. Many plant-based sources of protein are considered “incomplete,” simply meaning they don’t provide all nine essential amino acids the body needs to build proteins. If you’re thinking about replacing animal proteins and meats with more plant-based protein options, you want to prioritize complete protein sources. Here are seven examples.
The Best Plant-Based Sources of Protein
1. Tempeh (shown above)
Macros: 3 oz provides ~11 grams of complete protein
Tempeh is a soy product—and although it might not be as popular as tofu, it actually has a higher complete protein content. It can be used as a meat substitute in a number of foods. Try it in a stir fry, sandwich, or toss it on the grill (shown above).
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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