We need three essential macronutrients to remain healthy: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. The body uses fats to produce fatty acids and carbohydrates to fuel both body and mind. But protein is the star of the show among the three. It supplies energy to the body, aids in tissue repair, and improves metabolism. 
Some newbie vegans may find it challenging to incorporate enough protein in their diet, especially since they will now have to look away from their usual protein source, meat, in search of a new one. This is where plant-based proteins come to the rescue—because opting for a meatless diet shouldn’t mean sacrificing valuable protein intake.
Breaking It Down
What are plant-based proteins, exactly? Nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and beans are all examples of plant-based proteins.  These protein sources allow the body to adjust to a life without meat-based proteins and serve as great options for anyone looking to cut back--or eventually eliminate--their dependency on animal protein.
And the demand is skyrocketing. More plant-based protein alternatives are entering the markets as more people turn toward veganism. The primary reason people trade in their meat proteins for plant-based ones is an increased awareness of their health and the food they eat.
For instance, research shows that switching from meat to plant-based proteins may lead to a healthier heart. A 2019 study suggested that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases in middle-aged adults. By contrast, a 2016 meta-analysis suggested that consumption of animal protein, like processed red meats, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. 
Outside of individual health, some of those who rely on plant-based proteins often do so out of a conscientious critique on how poultry is farmed for human consumption and the environmental detritus its industry leaves in its wake. In fact, poultry farming alone is responsible for 360 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, with beef production taking the top spot. 
Plant-based Protein Faves
Incorporating plant-based proteins into our diet doesn’t have to be such a chore. It’s easier than you think! Try adding pulses to your meals in place of meat dishes. "Pulses" is an umbrella term used to describe protein-rich seeds from pod plants, like beans, lentil, peas, and chickpeas. Adding them to your meals in increments can help make the transition more comfortable.
Next, opt for other protein-rich plant alternatives like nuts. Here are some of our faves:
- Almonds - High in protein and bursting with antioxidants , almonds help protect the body from oxidative stress, which is caused by an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body. They are also a great source of fibre and vitamin E. Try whipping up homemade almond butter from Now Foods Raw Unsalted Almonds for your next sandwich snack.
- Brazil Nuts - These nuts thrive in rainforest trees and are a staple in almost every bag of mixed nuts. Brazil nuts are known as the anti-cancer superfood for their high levels of selenium, an important nutrient responsible for immune health, reproductive health, and improved metabolism. With Now Foods Unsalted Organic Brazil Nuts, anyone can enjoy brazil nut milk at home for extra-nutritious mornings!
- Cashews - Though they contain less fibre and protein than almonds and peanuts, cashews contain high levels of magnesium, which helps maintain good heart and bone health. Now Foods Real Food Roasted Cashews has a buttery flavour that makes it the perfect snack for work and school. While a bag of Now Foods Real Food Raw Energy Nut Mix mixes the exceptionally rich taste of cashews with other nut favourites such as pecans, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
- Pine Nuts - Pine nuts are known for their high-fat content and mild and sweet taste, as well as their great buttery texture. Throw in a handful of Now Foods Real, Organic Pine Nuts to spruce up any salad bowl!
- Walnuts - Hungry for an afternoon snack? Walnuts are a great and healthy way to beat those midday “munchies.” Try Now Foods Certified Organic Raw Walnuts for a healthy snack that’s rich not only in protein but also in omega-3 fats!
Bridging the Gap
The average adult requires 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight, which is equivalent to about 7 grams for every 20 pounds of body weight. The protein content in most meat products meet this requirement but is often in short supply in plant alternatives. No need to panic, though, because selecting the right supplements can easily bridge the gap.
Consider taking vitamin capsules such as Now Foods Iron Double Strength to help your body’s red blood cell production; Now Foods Zinc Picolinate to support your immune system; Now Foods Magnesium, and Calcium to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis; and Now Foods Omega 3 to improve heart health and brain function.
Worried about losing gains after a workout? Here’s the good news: you no longer have to choose between supporting your gym lifestyle and committing to a plant-based diet. Now, with the help of these supplements, you can build and maintain strong muscles just as easily with your plant-based diet.
Many vegan and non-vegan athletes alike turn to whey protein products for their post-protein nutrition. Whey protein powder products such as Now Foods Sports Pea Protein and Now Foods Sports Whey Protein Isolate contain all the important amino acids to support any active lifestyle!
Whichever diet you choose, always remember to do your research and find the right fit for you. After all, personal health is, quite literally, “personal.” Whatever you end up choosing, make sure to customise and calibrate it to suit your lifestyle. Embark on your health journey with the help of Now Foods natural foods and nutrition products to see what works best for you.