‘But….where do vegetarians and vegans get their protein from? This is a common question asked by individuals who aren’t familiar with the numerous benefits of plant-based diets. One of the biggest myths about plant-based diets is that they’re protein deficient, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. True, plant based diets may be deficient in ‘animal-based’ proteins, but an increasing number of studies are revealing how inefficient (and how bad) animal-based proteins are for the human body (one of the most comprehensive studies on this matter was conducted by Dr. T. Collin Campbell – The China Study). Furthermore, some vegetables (such as broccoli and kale) are some of the best sources of protein on the planet!
This series of articles titled ‘But…Where Do Vegetarians and Vegans Get Their Protein From?’ will feature plant-based products (and dishes) that yield high amounts of protein per serving.
Nutritional Yeast is another great source of non-animal based protein. Besides containing 8 grams of protein per serving (one serving = 2 tablespoons according to the nutritional facts label in the attached picture), nutritional yeast also has 18 amino acids, and a trace of chromium, which is beneficial for regulating blood-sugar levels. Most brands of nutritional yeast come fortified with vitamin B12, which is a big plus because vitamin B12 isn’t found in many plant based foods. The human body only needs a trace amount of vitamin B12, and most people more than likely consume the essential amount of B12 without giving it much thought.
Nutritional yeast is also high in fiber, which is important to digestive health. One heaping serving (about 4-5 grams) constitutes 16-20% of the recommended daily allowance based on a 2000-calorie diet (according to the nutritional facts label in the picture). Furthermore, it’s a low calorie source of protein (60 calories per serving), which is great for individuals on a fat or carbohydrate reduction diet.
So what is nutritional yeast anyways? Without getting too complicated, nutritional yeast is grown on cane sugar and molasses. During the harvesting process, the yeast is washed, dried, flaked, and then pasteurized in order to deactivate the yeast.
Nutritional yeast is a very versatile ingredient, and is notorious for having a rich ‘cheesy flavor’. You can add nutritional yeast to almost any dish, such as vegan mac & cheese (to give the sauce a more thick and cheesy taste), tofu scrambles, soups, popcorn, on sandwiches as a topping, breading, pizzas, its applications are virtually endless!
You don’t have to travel to some organic farm, far off the beaten path to find nutritional yeast. The most common place to find it is in the bulk section of your local grocery store. If your grocery store doesn’t have a bulk section, there’s a good chance you can find it as a packaged product near the seasoning section, or the baking section of your grocery store.
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