January 29, 2012

The Protein Myth in Vegan Diet + Lentil patties


"Where do you get your protein from?", is one of the most common questions I get when I tell someone I've gone vegan. Beans, peas, greens, nuts, seeds, lentils - plants! There is certainly no lack of protein in a plant-based diet, yet the protein myth persists. The rise of the high-protein diets (paleo, being the latest), has probably contributed to this myth and vegan diet is considered merely wishy washy in comparison. This presumption of vegan diet lacking protein (or anything else, for that matter) could not be further from the truth.

Take these lentil patties, for example. They contain 150 grams quinoa, which has 13.8g protein per 100g, and 200 grams lentils, which have 24g protein per 100g. Both quinoa and lentils are thus a great source of protein for vegans and non-vegans! My non-vegan fiancé loves these patties and served with a fresh salad and/or some grainy bread, they certainly make a satisfying meal.

If you are interested in reading more about protein in a plant-based (and non-plant-based) diet, I recommend you to read "The China Study", by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II. Colleen Patric-Goudreau also has an informative podcast titled "The Protein Myth and Vegetarianism",which I highly recommend you to listen.


Lentil patties

200g red lentils
1 carrot, chopped into tiny cubes
1 celery stick, chopped into tiny cubes
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of good quality salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 litre water


1 heaped tablespoon unhulled tahini
150g rolled quinoa
virgin coconut oil

1. Combine the lentils, carrot, celery, onion, garlic and spices in a saucepan. Add water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are fully tender and the mixture has cooked down.

2. Add tahini and rolled quinoa into the mixture and let simmer for a further 5 or so minutes. You should now have a very thick, sticky mixture. 

3. Let the mixture to cool down. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Oil your hands with some virgin coconut oil and shape the lentil mixture into small patties. Place the patties on to the baking tray and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 170C.

5. Bake the patties for 25-35 minutes or until they feel firm to touch. Make sure to turn them around half way through cooking. Serve with a salad and/or with some bread.

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Update: Thank you for all your feedback! Since many of you have asked about calcium, I'll be doing a post on the calcium myth in a vegan diet next!

28 comments:

  1. I just finished watching Forks Over Knives where they discuss this exact myth!

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    1. And I was reading Grist today and they were discussing this as well...

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  2. These patties look so tasty- & actually stay together!! I've made lentil patties with brown lentils, so will have to give red lentils a go :) x

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  3. Sounds delicious and they look great!

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  4. I want to eat these NOW! At first I thought the tomatoes were strawberries and I was like - OMG - I´m longing for summer a bit...

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  5. I get so annoyed when people what I eat as a vegetarian (which isn't even as "strict" as veganism). "Like everything else!". I often think meat eaters diets are restricted by the idea of a meat and two veg on the plate. There is so much more food to explore out there.

    The only thing I worry about with a vegan diet is the lack of calcium, could you do a post at some point about your sources of calcium. I tried taking supplements but they lead to bloating (which is apparently a sympton of some of them). Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  6. Wow, those look really amazing!! I'll have to try them.

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  7. As far as the calcium goes - the WHO (World Health Organization, puts the requirement at 300mg per person - we are the only country that has it at 800mg (1200mg for pregnant women). Naturally the Dairy lobbyists have something to do with this.

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    1. I totally disagree, sorry! And I am fully medically trained + have studied nutrition for over 25 years! Any WHO socalled 'requirement' is to cover overt disease present, not for optemum health/performance in a 'normal'/healthy person. People over 60 certainly need at least 1000-1500 mg of Ca daily, best taken in natural foods! There are debates as to the efficacy of Ca supplements: seeing the horrific damage falls can do in the elderly, I still believe in Ca supplementation on a moderate scale as well!

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  8. Yes, protein is the thing people worry about with these diets! But you're right, with nutritious food like these it should not at all be a problem. The real issue is other nutrients, like vitamin B12 and calcium! Deeeelicious recipe :)
    Heidi xo

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  9. I'll have to try them too. These patties are delicious!

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  10. In my experience most people who hear that I'm vegetarian/vegan don't stick to just the protein myth, they question the entire lifestyle. I often get slammed with nonsense about humans thriving from meat for centuries. I don't bother arguing because I don't feel it's right to push your beliefs onto others or to 'preach'. I only wish some carnivores had the same outlook!

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  11. These sound so good, but for some reason I'm always afraid of adding coriander powder to food. I like it in stews, but that's it. Maybe I'll add just half the amount and go up from there.

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  12. I get that all the time and I haven't gone completely vegan yet (still eat fish.) After reading those articles you tweeted I'm so glad I gave up meat and dairy. She explained that poor cow shaking before going down the kill shoot to her death....I don't even have to watch it and I can't get the image out of my head.

    These lentil cakes look so wonderful. I adore veggie bean burgers.

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  13. What a beautiful, colorful plate. I'm not vegan but our diet is largely composed of vegetables - lentils are a major staple in our home so I'm excited to try these!

    I do wish eaters across the spectrum could coexist a bit more peacefully. I see the variety of diets we each have to be a great source of inspiration to try new things.

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  14. These look fantastic! Although I'm not vegan - in fact not even vegetrian - we do eat a lot of plant based foods, and not so much meat (I guess that makes us flexitarian?). These will be a great adition to our meal rotation - thanks!

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  15. Very cool recipe and one I may try: these would be fabulous with a raita. I love lentils and especially red lentils but I haven't ever made patties like this. Bookmarked the recipe!

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  16. these look amazing- i can almost taste them! the texture looks perfect, too. i have to try these ;)

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  17. I'm not even vegetarian or vegan and I get most of my protein from beans, lentils and legumes. I love it and only eat meat very occasionally.

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  18. I don't like coriander either - can you leave it out?

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    1. Yes, of course you can! But you really can't taste the coriander and dried, ground coriander has a totally different taste to the fresh one!

      Maria
      x

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  19. These look beautiful--thanks to Heidi at 101 cookbooks for linking to your site! One question: is "unhulled tahini" the seeds or the paste?
    Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie!

      Unhulled tahini is referring to tahini paste.

      Maria
      x

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  20. These look delicious! Quick question: what is "rolled" quinoa?

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    1. Rolled/flaked quinoa: http://www.goodness.com.au/store/p193/Organic-Rolled-And-Flaked-Quinoa-600g/product_info.html

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  21. Why does your recipe call for refrigeration for 20-30 minutes?

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    1. They will firm up and hold together better after refrigeration.

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