Is it essential to eat meat to get enough protein? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Some of them are produced by the body’s own natural mechanism, but there are nine essential amino acids that cannot be produced in the body and have to be obtained from food. Foods that contain all nine include red meat, poultry, sea food, eggs, dairy products and soybeans.
Chicken, turkey, beef and pork are considered complete protein: they contain all the essential amino acids. The problem with red meat is that it is high in saturated fat. Eggs are another complete protein and the quality of egg protein is high. The only plant food that contains all nine is soybean.
Fortunately it is available in many varieties: tofu, soy milk, miso and edamame, although it is not a good idea to rely on soy bean alone. Vegans and vegetarians need to combine several varieties of protein sources on each meal to get all the different amino acids. Quinoa is rich in most essential amino acids and is a great protein food for both vegetarians and vegans. Other good vegan protein sources are spirulina, watercress, green leafy vegetables, wheat, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, pumpkin and chia seeds.