Eat some plant based protein for a change

Health Aug 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

By Kalayaan Garcia de Vera

I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian but I barely eat meat. Probably only once a month and sometimes not as often.  I like to see myself as a flexitarian. I eat more plants than animals and I feel that it is healthy for my body, my wallet and the planet.  Having meat on a daily basis, especially in every meal, can get expensive.

Growing up in a household where both my parents are vegetarians has had a positive effect on me. It allowed me to explore other alternatives to meat such as tofu and tempeh and seaweed.

While studying nutrition I learned that all food are composed of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. I learned too that protein is abundant in many plants, grains and legumes; some just have more concentration than others. There are many cultures that have been vegetarians for centuries and relied on plant, grains and legumes for their protein source.

It’s true that some plant based protein may not have all the essential amino acids that our body requires but that is where food combination comes into play.  For example, if you combine a whole grain such as brown rice with a legume such as adzuki or black beans, you are getting all the essential amino acids your body would get without the excess fat and calories from meat.

I have had many clients that are wary about reducing their meat intake because they feel that they will not get enough protein and I assure them that they can get just as much protein in plants as they would in animal sources.  Plants are a lot easier to digest since it also has its own digestive enzymes, and the body is able to utilize the amino acids a lot faster.  In fact when I am training, I make sure that my main source of protein is all from plants, as I find that my recovery time is faster. Animal protein is harder on the digestive system and also has saturated fat which will take longer to break down and absorb. Animal protein is also dehydrating because it takes more fluid to metabolize animal protein than plant based protein.  It is worth a try next time you train and see for yourself how much more energy and less pain your body will have.

For those of you watching your weight, having some protein from plants more often will aid in your weight loss as plants are filled with fibre which will keep you full and has less calories per gram than any meat.

I am not trying to change anyone into a vegetarian as I myself am not one, but I do hope that from reading this, it will make you aware of the protein you can get from plant sources, and not just think of meat as your only source of protein.  I also hope that this will be helpful for those who are vegetarians, or thinking of becoming vegetarians, or even those who just want to add more varitey of protein sources in their diet.  I have added a simple chart (left) to use as a reference when looking for alternative protein sources.
I will also be sharing some of my favourite protein rich recipes that are vegan friendly on my website.


(Kalayaan Garcia de Vera is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who graduated at the top of her class with honours at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.. As a member of the Canadian Holistic Association of Nutritionists Professionals, she has conducted weight loss studies and detoxification workshops. Her website is


Egg Whites, 4 whites, 20g
Algae (spirulina), 2 Tbs, 8g
Seaweed (nori), 10 Sheets, 2g
Broccoli, 2 cups, 6g
Brussell Sprouts, 2 cups, 6g
Cauliflower, 2 cup, 4g
Asparagus, 2 cups, 6g
Spinach, 2 cups, 2g
Swiss Chard, 2 cups, 2g
Kale, 2 cups, 4g
Oatmeal, 1 cup, 6g
Quinoa, 1 cup, 8g
Edamame, 1 cup, 17g
Tempeh, 1 cup, 31g
Tofu, 1 cup, 10g
Hemp Protein Powder, 1 scoop (30g), 15.5g
Rice Protein Powder, 1 scoop (30g), 12g
Whey Protein Powder, 1 scoop (30g), 27g
Soy Protein Powder, 1 scoop (30g), 25g
Bean Sprouts, 2 cups, 2g