Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Search for the Perfect (Vegan) Protein Powder - Part 2

First, to recap part 1- personally, I was not a big fan of Life Time Life's Basic Plant Protein and Vega. They had a nice mix of proteins, but they also had "characteristic protein powder tastes," probably due to the addition of powdered vanilla and stevia. Living Harvest's hemp protein original flavor was the most natural, with only one ingredient: 100% certified organic hemp seed. However, it has a very strong and district greens/hemp flavor. (If you are interested, they also have vanilla and chocolate flavors sweetened with unrefined whole cane sugar). I would highly recommend PB2, but with only 5.65 g protein per 2 tbsp, it's mostly a low-fat peanut butter alternative rather than a protein supplement. And at $7 for a 6.5 oz jar, it is not a purchase that I will be repeating any time soon.

For me, I guess there currently is no perfect vegan protein powder. Each has its pros and cons and is good in its own way. I think something that I forgot when I began this search was that protein powder is a supplement and not a whole food. I was trying to find a powder to count as a major source of my protein intake (apparently healthy adults optimally have around .8 g protein per kg of body weight per day*). However, I enjoy getting most of my nutrients through complete foods and not isolates, because a whole food is more than the sum of its parts.

After this search and after experiencing several slight headaches, slight dizziness, tiredness, some weight gain, and a strength training workout during which I simply could not lift the weight due mostly to (I believe) lack of enough protein, I think I will be straying further away from the vegan path. (I can only consume so many beans [fiber!] and soy in my diet!)

According to Nina Planck's Real Food, humans are "omnivores with bodies designed to eat plant and animal foods...[and] [t]here are no traditional vegan societies" (Planck, 21-22). Of course, everyone has their own opinion, and what works for one person may not work for another. While many people have successfully gone vegan, at the moment, a vegan diet is not for me. Remember, the right kind of diet is one that works for you, and there are many diets out there. However, I will try to keep animal products in my diet at a minimum for now. (Things can always change. And it's too bad I can't afford local meat from a farm like Stillman's more often!) In future posts, I hope to discuss veganism, vegetarianism, industrial meat, etc.!

And as a last note, all is not lost in my vegan protein powder world! I will probably continue to incorporate vegan protein powder in my diet, but just in small and unnoticeable amounts (baking?!). Most likely, I will continue with hemp protein; but whenever I'm feeling up to it, I have heard some good things about NutriBiotic's rice protein. Their plain rice protein only has one ingredient, too!: "enzymatically processed rice protein from whole grain brown rice."

*Brown, Judith E. Nutrition Throughout the Life Cycle. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.

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