Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Complementary proteins from plants

with 6 comments

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the previous contents of this post was misinformation. I learned more recently that what I had posted all wrong. Indeed, the whole idea of “complementary proteins” is out of whack. I’ve deleted the old content and offer a couple of videos to correct the record.

Here’s the first:

I switched to a whole-food plant-based diet a couple of months ago (I’m writing this on 13 July 2019), and in my investigation I learned a lot. Here’s another video on how vegans/vegetarians do regarding protein:

This post describes in some detail the approach I worked out, along with the reasons for my choices. Take a look at that and see what you think.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2013 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Food

6 Responses

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  1. If you type “the myth of the complete protein” into Google you will find many good articles debunking this theory.


    25 June 2013 at 6:13 am

  2. In looking around a little, the common misunderstanding, or myth, seems to be that all essential amino acids must be in the same meal, which is not true (and which I knew—though I was an early fan of Diet for a Small Planet, the original edition of which did much to propagate the idea that a meal must be complete.

    But that is not the focus of my interest: I was simply interested in seeing how to ensure I did include all the essential amino acids from vegetable sources. And while all the 9 essential amino acides don’t have to be in the same meal (beans for breakfast and barley for lunch is fine), it certainly doesn’t hurt to have all 9 in a meal, and it somehow pleases me to know that the meal is complete in itself—just an additional pleasure.

    The specific origin of my curiosity was a friend reporting on the protein content of (say) spinach, avocado, broccoli, and the like. Now I know that none of those is a complete protein—they all lack some of the essential amino acids—but I had no idea what foods would complement the proteins. So that’s what I originally was looking for. And I didn’t find it, either—I have no idea what foods would do well as complements (even if not in the same meal) to spinach, avocado, and broccoli. But I did find the above, which I thought was interesting.

    This article presents a good brief summary of the issue.


    25 June 2013 at 6:49 am

  3. Diet for a Small Planet was my bible in the 70’s. The above is good to know as you pointed out. But also worrying about how much protein we eat seems less important than our Western Diet would have us believe. It seems in this country we eat too much protein at some cost to our kidneys and bones.


    25 June 2013 at 7:09 am

  4. I agree. So long as one eats a good variety of plants, getting all 9 essential amino acids seems to be a non-issue. And I also agree that we need only a relatively small amount of protein: for my body weight, 2.5 oz protein per day is an adequate amount, and I know I eat more than that and probably should cut back.


    25 June 2013 at 8:06 am

  5. Interesting. I learned something. Thanks for sharing.

    Mary Naylor

    13 July 2019 at 1:29 pm

  6. Actually, this post is wrong, and I’m going to update it. Here are the facts:


    13 July 2019 at 1:31 pm

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