There are roughly 20 common amino acids that are the building blocks that make up protein and 8 or 9 of those are “essential” because the human body cannot make them. In other words, they must come from food.
About 40 years ago, a popular diet book was published that led to the erroneous believe that plant foods had to be combined in a certain way to make up for deficiencies of certain amino acids. Unfortunately, this led to the idea that animal proteins were “superior” because they were “complete”.
It turns out, though, plant proteins are complete proteins too. Some plant-based foods have all essential amino acids (quinoa, buckwheat, soy, chia and hempseed) while others have a mix of some and lower amounts or not others. But as long as foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are consumed daily, you’re getting everything you need and then some.
And best of all, plant proteins don’t come with all the problems that are linked to animal protein: saturated fat, cholesterol, antibiotics, bacteria, parasites, growth hormones, pesticides and herbicides from animal feed, and carcinogens.
Plant protein also offers a host of benefits that animal protein can’t come close to rivaling. For example,
Using 100 grams of quinoa as an example, a serving provides 14 grams of protein along with 25 percent of the RDA for both iron and vitamin B6 and almost 50 percent of the RDA for magnesium. It also delivers 563 mg of potassium.
The same amount of beef comes has 26 grams of protein, and only 14 percent iron, 20 percent B6, a meager 5 percent magnesium and 318 mg of potassium. It also has double the fat at 15 grams with 90 mg of cholesterol, while quinoa has just 6 grams of fat and zero cholesterol.