Protein problems are not an issue and here’s why by Michelle - 10th April 2016 When I initially dabbled as a vegetarian, and then took the plunge into veganism, I was constantly asked where I was getting my protein from. I have to admit for the first year as a vegan I was a bit paranoid, looking at my legs or arms thinking “Am I losing muscle mass?! Oh no, I’m not getting enough protein…” I faced similar concerns (paranoid delusions some might say) about calcium. More on that in a later blog… In a way, it was a good spur to ensure I was exploring nutrition adequately, to be confident that I was sourcing enough protein from other plant-based sources. Here’s the most interesting facts I’ve learnt along the way. We all know that protein is important for muscle, but it also repairs cells in the body and is super important for nerve impulses and good immunity. Protein Sources (favourites in bold) Pulses: peas, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, soy milk Nuts: cashews, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios (interesting fact – Brazil, walnuts, pinenuts, pecans and hazelnuts contain less protein, and chestnuts and macadamia are actually not a good protein choice) Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame. Believe it or not, sesame seeds are also a good choice for calcium Grains: quinoa, wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, pasta, bread, seitan. Rice is NOT a good protein choice, who knew? I feel like I’d never really embraced the concept of seeds before going vegan. It’s a whole new exciting world, and there are some great products on the market to make your seed consumption more interesting. We try to step back from every meal and see if a sprinkle of nuts or seeds enhances the flavour or texture. In most cases, it does and is an easy choice. I try carry around little portable pots of various “sprinkles” to add to meals – at work, out in restaurants or pubs. Once you’re in the habit, it becomes like second nature. And is always a great conversation starter if you’re out and about! As a general rule of thumb work on consuming daily just under 1g of protein per kg of body weight. There’s an argument that if you’re a training athlete, you need more, and there are some good, vegan protein powder options out there. I’ve been dubious about eating fake meat from the beginning. The fact that in a lot of cases I can’t even pronounce many of the ingredients on the packets of these products is just the start. More often than not they are also tasteless, and with a texture like a cross between cardboard and compost. Earlier this year at the Brighton Vegfest I came across Sgaia…the most inspirational plant-based choice I’ve found. Their strapline reads “nature has muscles” and boy are they right. We’ve now tried much of their range though it sells out fast. Their product is seitan-based, and I’m loving their “Streaky Rashers” for which the ingredients are Wheat Gluten, Water, Balsamic Vinegar, Yeast Extract, Soya Protein, Beech Wood Liquid Smoke, Sea Salt, Molasses, Maple Syrup, Onion, Garlic, Beetroot, Smoked Paprika. Not an E-number in sight! The Rashers also pack a protein punch, weighing in at 31.5g per 100g, not far off animal derived bacon which is 37g, and far kinder to the highly intelligent pigs. I can never look a pig, and not think “Babe“… Sgaia products can also be frozen, which makes them perfect for stocking up, it also keeps in the fridge for up to 3 months unlike the animal alternative. Most importantly, it’s absolutely delicious! You CAN get protein naturally and without harming animals. Simplifying happy choices!