It’s the question that vegans get asked all time and it’s hardly surprising as it was the first nutrient to be discovered, and it is one of the 3 macronutrients that are needed as one the main components of our diet to maintain a healthy body. But why do most government guidelines and “health experts” still think that animal sources are the primary (some still say only) source and therefore the most heavily recommended?
“Proteins are not just for our muscles; they are our bodies building blocks and are crucial for all of our organs, skin, hair and nails.”
The complete protein concept
Much has been made of the fact that many sources of animal protein are “complete” that is that they contain all nine “essential” amino acids. These include meats, fish, poultry, milk and eggs and until relatively recently these have accepted as the best way to obtain these. So much so that governments and health experts have called for sources of complete proteins to be part of every meal, hence the advice to have animal based protein in most meals. The acceptance that plants also can be complete as well is a relatively new concept but is now becoming recognised
thanks to pioneers such as T. Colin Campbell the need to have complete sources of protein (animal or otherwise) is now being challenged and is now widely accepted that plant based diets provide enough amino acids and therefore protein. These arguments are also helped by the growing prominence of vegan athletes in the media.
While not all plant based foods are regarded as “complete” (because some have essential amino acids in low qualities) eating a good combination of plant based foods throughout the day (i.e. eating a balanced and varied diet) ensures that those on plant based diet can obtain the essential amino acids they need.
Example of complete plant based foods*:
How Much Protein Do We Need?
The amount of protein you need is dependent on your age and activity levels and closely linked with your calorie needs. For example; children and adolescents need both good nutrition and calories to ensure that they develop properly, likewise a professional athlete would need higher levels of both than someone leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle.
As plant based diets tend to be lower in calories it’s important to to ensure that you consume enough food each day. But if you are maintaining your bodyweight on a plant based diet (or developing naturally if young or an adolescent) then it’s almost impossible to be deficient in any nutrient, protein included, as plant based foods are nutrient rich. For example while 100g of raw broccoli only provides 28Kcal and 3g of protein it has over 100 mg of protein per kcal. An egg contains five times as many calories (143 kcal) but only four times as much protein (90 mg per kcal).
The above comes with an important caveat that if you eat a highly processed plant based food diet you will receive lower levels of macro and micro nutrients. This is just as true for meat based diets as it is for plant based, while you might be getting the calories you can be just as undernourished eating “junk-food” plant based foods as eating “junk-food” meat based foods. If you are on a highly processed diet you would probably benefit from supplementing your nutrition levels in the short term or until you can reduce your dependance on processed foods. Learn more about nutrition on our nutritional therapy pages.
So how do I answer the question?
I guess the best answer is:
“I make half of it myself and the rest I get from plants”.
An amazing dessert, and great way to enjoy strawberries.
1 cup cashew nuts
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 bar excellence dark chocolate with coconut
Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until crumbly.
Use a quiche tin with removable base and press the mixture into the bottom.
Place in fridge whilst preparing the filling.
1 punnet strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups cashew nuts
Place strawberries and vanilla extract into blender and blend until liquid. Add 1 cup of the cashews and blend until thick and creamy (must be texture of thick double cream). If needed keep adding more cashew nuts until desired thickness reached.
Add to base and place in freezer. Check after 1 hour to see if set if not then leave in freezer until set.
Add sliced Strawberries to top before serving.
Check out other great recipes on the blog page or on our YouTube channel.
This is a quick lunch time meal which can be made in around 10 minutes. Best with walnuts this dish is nutritious as well as delicious.
Veggetti: Any Vegetable of your choice, I have used Zucchini (courgette)
Either Spiralize or cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Place in a bowl for later.
4 chopped tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes - halved
fresh basil (as much as you like)
fresh rosemary (as much as you like)
fresh chives -chopped (as much as you like)
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup walnuts (soaked for 1 hour)
Salt and pepper (optional)
2 tbsp Garlic Olive oil
Place all items except the walnuts into the blender/food mixer, blend until a nice thick sauce texture.
Add the walnuts and pulse for 5 - 10 seconds (you want them to be left as large crumbles )
Place the veggetti onto a plate, add the sauce on top, garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes and parsley.
Serve and enjoy.
Check out other great recipes on the blog page or on our YouTube channel.
Everyone loves mint chocolate, give it a crunchy chocolate nutty base and you could quite believe you have gone to heaven, well just for a minute or two anyway.
For the Base:
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup cacao powder
8 pitted dates
Process the above ingredients in a food processor until a sticky/crumbly texture.
Press into a lined dish, press down firmly.
Place dish into the freezer whilst you prepare the peppermint layer.
For the Peppermint Layer:
1 cup of cashew nuts ( soaked for up to 2 hours)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp superfood green powder
1 drop of peppermint oil
2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Add all ingredients into your food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy.
Remove the base from the freezer and pour the mixture over the base and smooth until evenly spread.
Place back into the freezer for approximately 30 minutes
For the Chocolate Drizzle:
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
Whisk all the ingredients together until a smooth sauce.
Remove dish from freezer, cut into bite size pieces.
Drizzle with the chocolate sauce.
SERVE and ENJOY !
Check out other great recipes on the blog page or on our YouTube channel.
Let me introduce the chap on the left. He's me in 2013. He is 39 years old, lives on a mostly processed food diet with meat and dairy and smokes, his only saving graces are that he doesn't drink much and exercises. In fact he's quite active, clocking up an average of 4,000 calories a week in the gym ... but he kept getting fatter, and caught every seasonal flu and cold as well as suffered from acid reflux. The chap on the right is me in 2016, he is 42, lives on a plant based diet with only a little dairy and processed foods, drinks more (wine) and exercises less...(still working on the smoking thing) and never seems to get flu or any other sickness and ... and thankful doesn't suffer from acid reflux anymore.
So how did I transition from one to the other?
It started with a lazy night in July 2015 flicking through YouTube looking for something to watch, we watched earthlings! For those who don't know it is the 2005 documentary that graphically depicts the suffering of animals in factory farms, research labs, puppy mills and other industries. After watching both Joanne and I decided to stop eating meat (stop eating earthlings), but just as importantly we decided to learn about food. At the time Joanne* was studying nutritional therapy and so was already on the road to eating more healthy, but I still had a lot to learn. Luckily I had Joanne and she designed a diet for me that would increase my nutritional status, thus healing my body, while also removing my dependance on processed foods and animal products.
For the first couple of weeks I found the change a little hard as my tastebuds returned to normal and I went through withdrawal from the sugar and chemicals in the processed foods, this was eased by Joanne's skill as a chef (see some wonderful recipes here). After that, the change was dramatic; my energy levels increased and body fat started to come off at a steady rate of around 1Kg a week. Because I was eating lots of plant based fats and proteins I stopped snacking and craving processed carbohydrate / sugary junk food and I felt full all the time. Joanne was also grateful that I stopped snoring and in turn she also started to sleep a lot better than she had in years.
By September 2015 my weight had stabilised and my skin, although still a little lose around my stomach and waist was starting to shrink, perhaps I could have helped it along by doing the odd sit-up,... but that's hard work. By this point I had changed my exercise plan to focus more on walking, light training and jogging ... i.e. more fun and less stressful exercises as apposed to slogging it out in the gym.
"Real food doesn't have ingredients, real food is ingredients"
So now its September 2016 and my weight has been stable since April at around 65kg. I still eat a plant based diet with minimal processed foods, although we do still eat the odd takeaway and processed cake while out, we are Vegan and predominately Raw Food.
So what did I personally discover on my journey of how to eat real food again? Well the first and probably most important thing I learned was that real food doesn't come in a packet or from a factory, and in the words of Jamie Oliver "Real food doesn't have ingredients, real food is ingredients". Real food is the stuff that grows from the ground; vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and beans which give me everything I need to be healthy and happy and have the energy to live my life. They contain the fats, proteins, carbohydrates to fuel me and the nutrients that my body needs to work efficiently. Yes I still get asked the question "Where do you get your protein from"? My answer is to show them a photo like the one below and answer: "The same place as this guy, just with more beans and less tree bark".
*Joanne is now a certified Nutritional Therapist and is currently training to become a Raw Food Coach with the renowned Karen Knowler so that she can coach others and take them on their own incredible journey to a healthier life.
If you only watch one film this year, then it should be "That Sugar Film" by Damon Gameau.
It is only in recent times that warnings issued by John Yudkin in 1972 have started to be recognised that sugar (fructose), not fat, is the real "poison" that causes metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions - increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol) which has caused the epidemic of heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the West.
Damon's film gives the viewer an entertaining and informative journey as he investigates sugar in the western diet and how it affects health. Also importantly he shows how much sugar is in modern processed foods, and those marketed as so called "healthy".
Following in the tradition of "Super Size Me", Damon becomes a guinea pig for 60 days consuming 40 teaspoons a day with the rule that they are from hidden sugars found in commonly perceived healthy foods and drinks. On the first day of the experiment his healthy breakfast of cereal, yogurt and apple juice totals nearly 20 teaspoons!
Throughout the film we see how that while the number of calories is important, the source of the calories is just as important; evidenced by his increase in weight in the first 12 days. By the end of the film we clearly see how the increase in fructose not only affects his weight but also negatively affects his overall physical and mental health. This is highlighted midway through the film when he compares the high sugar diet to his pre experiment one:
"I'm eating the same amount of calories as I did before, but my liver has turned to fat, my belly is chasing my lady's, it's doing something to my brain, we know that, and I'm not feeling full."
Once you have watched this, you should also check out the excellent website that accompanies the film which contains a host of free resources, check it out here; http://thatsugarfilm.com and on Amazon.
I just love mayonnaise, I'll have it with just about anything and everything!
In the past I've always used Hellmans, I loved the taste, texture and the creaminess. Since becoming vegan, Mayo is probably the one condiment/item that I really miss.
I have been playing around with different recipes for a while now, but haven't been able to get the right mixture of ingredients that would give me a mayo that I could love as much as Hellmans.
Finally I have found it, that recipe that hits the spot for me!
So without further ado here is the making of Jo's mayo.
1 x tin of chickpeas in water.
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of coconut sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon of dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast flakes
3/4 cup of Sunflower oil.
1. Drain the chickpeas and measure out 1/4 cup of the liquid (aquafaba) into a glass bowl. Add the vinegar, Lemon juice, salt, sugar, mustard powder and nutritional yeast. Mix with a whisk until all combined.
2. Using a stick blender on a low speed setting, slowly drizzle in the sunflower oil, blending continuously. This may take 5-7 minutes to add all the oil. Turn up the speed of the blender and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and creamy.
3. Once your mixture is thick and creamy place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Its now ready to use.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Here's a great healthy way to start the day! and Yes its eating chocolate !!!
Time to make: 15 minutes
1 cup of Pecans or Walnuts (or any nuts you have to hand can use a mix of nuts if preferred)
1 cup pitted dates
5 Tbsp Cacao powder (can use cocoa powder)
2 tbsp Honey or Agave nectar.
4 tbsp unsweetend shredded coconut
1/4 cup Hemp seeds
1/4 cup Goji berries
1/4 cup plain dark (90%) chocolate chips (optional)
Method: place nuts in food processor and process until small and crumbly.
Add the pitted dates, and shredded coconut and process until all is a lovely chocolatey brown colour and dough like.
Stir in hemp seeds, goji berries and chocolate chips.
Place mixture into a lined tin/dish and press down firmly.
You can eat straight away but best refrigerated for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Cut into squares and serve.
When the extreme becomes the mainstream, it may be time to worry? There are a number of excellent documentaries dealing with GMOs but consumed is the first fictional film to deal with the subject.
Consumed is a drama/thriller from Daryl Wein and staring Zoe Lister-Jones as a single mother who believes her sons mystery illness is caused by G.M.O.s. It touches on many of the problems of GMOs, such as the lack of regulation and testing and the power of large Biotech companies.
While at times it is overly dramatic in its delivery it is well acted and directed. If you're looking for a light introduction to learning about GMOs and some of the potential problems with genetic modification it makes a good entry point. Afterwards we recommend you watch GMO-OMG, the future of Food and King Corn for more information.
About the GrassRoots Health Blog
The Grassroots Health blog is written by Dean and Joanne. Joanne's passion is vegan raw food, nutrition and wellbeing while Dean likes to explore the real science behind health.
The equipment we use