When most people hear the word “protein” they think steak, chicken, and other animal proteins. But, what exactly are proteins? Why do we need them? Can a vegan diet provide enough? Health coach, Sharon Dangles, explains all.

What are proteins?

Proteins are large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. They’re an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues i.e. muscle, skin, hair, cartilage, and ligaments. This is why they’re so important for a healthy body.

What’s the difference between complete and incomplete proteins?

A complete protein must contain 9 essential amino acids (animal proteins such as meat, dairy, and eggs are complete). Even though an incomplete protein (grains, fruit, vegetables, and nuts) do not have all 9 essential amino acids, if you eat a variety of them, you can get enough protein.

How much protein do we need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day.

It’s a common belief that you can’t get enough protein from plants. Is this true?

Research shows that plant-based diets contain such a wide variety of amino acid profiles that it is possible to get all your protein requirements without eating animal products. You just need to be sure you eat balanced, healthy meals, with a range of ingredients.

What are the best plant-based protein sources?

Beans, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are all excellent sources of proteins. For example, cooked lentils contain 8.84g of protein per half cup, almonds offer 16.5g of protein per half cup, and cooked quinoa contains 8g of protein per cup.

If you want to increase your protein intake, I would recommend Splendid Spoon’s Blueberry Acai Smoothie, which is packed with 10g of protein and loaded with antioxidants. For lunch, treat yourself to the warming Chickpea Harissa Tahini Bowl, which has 18g of protein. You truly are loving yourself when you consume healthy smoothies and soups from Splendid Spoon!