Powerful Plant Proteins

March 15, 2024

If you have attended any of The Kitchen’s Community Cooking Classes, you may have noticed we often use plant-based proteins in our recipes. If you’ve ever wondered why, or are interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into your diet, continue reading!

Why eat plant proteins?

There are many reasons why someone might want to incorporate plant proteins into their diet. Some people follow a vegetarian (no meat) or vegan (no animal products) diet, and it is important to prioritize plant proteins when you are not getting proteins from meats, fish, or eggs. Eating plant proteins can also be beneficial for your budget; lots of plant proteins, such as beans, lentils, and tofu, are much cheaper than many meat products are. Following a plant-focused diet can also be beneficial for our planet! The meat industry produces high levels of greenhouse gases, so reducing meat consumption can help reduce climate change. There are also many health benefits to eating mostly plants – continue reading to find out more!

Is a plant-focused diet healthier than a diet that contains meat?

No! There is a common misconception that plant-focused diets, such as being vegetarian or vegan, automatically means that a person is healthier than those who eat meat. This is not necessarily the case, because there are many plant-based foods that are not made of whole or natural ingredients (for example, Oreos are technically vegan). However, the American College of Cardiology found that those who follow a plant-focused diet full of whole, natural plant foods had lower risk for heart disease than those who follow meat-focused diets. This is likely because plant foods contain less saturated fats than animal products, are rich in fiber, low in sodium, and high in vitamins and minerals. In conclusion, a plant-focused diet can certainly help you achieve your health goals, but only if it is primarily comprised of whole, natural plant foods.

What are the different types of plant proteins?

There are many options for incorporating plant-based proteins into your diet. Some common examples include beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, and nut butters. Tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and chickpeas are other common plant-based protein sources. However, many people don’t know that vegetables have a lot of protein in them already! Vegetables that are high in protein include spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, potatoes, seaweed, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Another important concept when considering plant-based proteins is the idea of complementary proteins. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and many plants have incomplete amino acid chains. However, special combinations of foods are “complementary” because they combine to create a complete protein. Some examples include rice and beans, oats and peanut butter, chickpeas and pasta, peas and corn, whole wheat bread and peanuts, and pumpkin seeds and peanuts. Pairing up these foods helps insure you are consuming complete proteins!

What are some plant-based protein recipes I could try?

Here is a list of delicious Second Harvest recipes that utilize common plant-based proteins!




No matter your reason for exploring plant-based protein options, we hope these tips and recipes will be helpful in your journey. Happy cooking!

By Sophia Orsinelli

JVC Northwest AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator