The Rise of Plant Based Protein: A Comprehensive Guide

The Rise of Plant Based Protein: A Comprehensive Guide

As the name suggests, plant-based proteins are derived from healthy staples including fruits, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates. In today’s environmental climate, we are repeatedly being made aware of the advantages of a plant-based diet, for both health and sustainability reasons.

A far more sustainable option than animal protein, plant protein is entirely vegan. This makes it a very appealing dietary option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint – even mixing plant proteins with animal proteins can have a remarkable impact on your individual footprint. 

By understanding how to utilise the power of plant-based protein options, you can begin to make healthy changes towards a plant-based diet, if that is your wish, or make sure you are getting enough protein if you diet is already primarily vegetarian or vegan. 

Where does plant protein come from?

Some of the best plant-protein sources include:

  • Tofu
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soya
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Black beans and kidney beans

Not only are these foods high in protein, but they are great sources of other essential building blocks including vitamins, minerals and fibre. As the presence of veganism and vegetarianism is increasing, there are now a vast plethora of delicious recipes that are strictly plant based that you can use to incorporate ‘greener’ eating into your lifestyle.

What is plant-based protein?

A complete definition of plant-based protein would be: a meaningful food source of protein which is from plants. Protein plays a huge role into just in the world of body-building and muscle growth, but for maintaining the muscles and bones of the body. It helps to repair damaged tissue and oxygenate the blood properly, as well as enzyme production, which is responsible for your bodily chemicals.

Within the body there are 9 essential amino-acids, and we called protein sources that contain all 9 ‘complete’. Animal proteins, for example, are complete, including fish, poultry and red meat. When it comes to plant protein, they tend to lack 1 or more of these amino acids, and know as ‘incomplete’. Soya and quinoa are the only ‘complete’ plant proteins, making them a great staple to a plant-based diet.

One way to navigate this, and ensure that you are hitting all 9 amino-acids, is an idea called ‘protein combining’ – essentially eating a selection of plant proteins that individually are not complete, but come together to form a complete source of protein. For example, a serving of rice with a helping of hummus (chickpeas) would help you to achieve this. 

With that in mind, there are many groupings of plant-based proteins that can come together and create a complete source, and they don’t have to be in the same meal. You can spread your sources out throughout the day or week, to help you stay consistently topped up. 

Plant-based diets for muscle growth

It is entirely possible to achieve the same muscle-growth results on a plant diet as it is on a diet consuming meat or animal products – as demonstrated by a number of celebrated vegan athletes.  

There are a number of ways to make sure your plant-based plate is working in your favour, but one of the most popular is to have a mental checklist, adding one or more items from each category to each of your meals:

  • Carbs: Carbs are just as essential to the daily running of your body as proteins are, so make sure to include a plant-based carb such as cauliflower, tortillas, rice etc
  • Plant protein: Beans, tofu, lentils, mushrooms – something to help fill you up and leave you satisfied
  • Fruits or vegetables: These contain vital vitamins and minerals to keep your body running smoothly
  • Leaves: Leafy greens such spinach or rocket
  • Plant fats: Avocado, tahini, cashew butter all contain plant fats that take care of your cells and regulate certain processes within the body

Although it may take a little more planning, making sure that your proteins are nutritionally complete and contain enough protein to sustain your workout plan, the benefits of going green are not to be frowned upon. 

Benefits to going green

There are many advantages to eating less, or no, meat. It has substantial benefits on:

  • Heart health: Being low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats, a plant-based diet has great results in lowering cholesterol levels, which has huge benefits on the heart. This is further helped by the increased levels of fibre that is a by-product of eating more plant-based produce. 
  • Inflammation and disease: Increasing the number of plants in your diet also increases the amount of antioxidant we consume. These anti-oxidants will help to fight inflammation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and even helps to prevent certain cancers. 
  • Environmental benefits: The meat industry has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent times due to its pronounced global impact on the environment. Animal farming contributes in no small way to the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions, loss of natural habitats, deforestation and pollution. By switching to a greener diet, your personal choices can have a wider impact to curb the effects of this industry. 

Plant-based myths

There are a few misconceptions about a plant-based diet and its effects on your physical appearance. So, let’s explore them – 

  • Plant-based causes acne: There are many factors that influence how prone an individual is to acne, including their genetics, hormones, environment etc. Diet has long been studied for its impacts on complexion, and plant-based products are not an acne-causing culprit. 

While it is true that some vegan diets may contain high numbers of simple carbs, that are high on the glycaemic index, the majority actually offer some benefits to your skin’s health. Often high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, plant-based diets work can against outbreaks.

  • Plant-causes weight gain: In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. Plant based diets, which are low in processed products and high in unsaturated fats, can often be a key element to losing weight. If you are finding you are gaining weight on a plant-based diet, this could be attributed to portion control. It can sometimes be misconstrued that, as vegan options are generally healthier, that portion sized can be unlimited. But these foods all still contain calories, and being in a calorie surplus could harm your weight-loss goals dramatically. 


In summary, the switch to a plant-based diet does come with many benefits. Plant-proteins are definitely capable of sustaining even the most active lifestyle and are a very versatile, staple choice of the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. The choice to reduce, or cut out, meat and other animal products is definitely a personal one, but there’s certainly no harm in swapping a sirloin steak for a cauliflower steak every once in a while, – unless you’re allergic to cauliflower! 

Back to blog