vegan muse

Amino Acids – A Brief Discussion

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The following briefly discusses amino acids in a plant-based diet.

Enzymes break down protein into four units, namely:

i) Polypeptides;
ii) Dipeptides;
iii) Peptides;
iv) Amino acids –> amino acids are the smallest unit of protein.

There are approximately twenty-two amino acids that are of interest to biochemists; eight of which are essential (the human body cannot generate or synthesize these) and fourteen that can be synthesized by the human body (derived from the eight essential ones).

In alphabetical order, the eight essential amino acids are:

i) Isoleucine
ii) Leucine
iii) Lysine
iv) Methionine
v) Phenylalanine
vi) Threonine
vii) Tryptophan
viii) Valine

Sources of Iron and Vitamin B-12

Iron: Stored in the liver and muscles.
Vitamin B-12: Stored in reasonable quantities throughout the body.

Foods Rich in Iron: Spinach; Parsley; Bean Sprouts; Lentils; Dried Fruit; Molasses; Sesame Seeds; Green Leafy Vegetables

Foods Rich in Vitamin B-12: Miso; Tempeh; Alfalfa Sprouts; Tamari; Blue-Green Algae

Note: If one has been on a whole foods, plant-based diet for three (3) or more years, a 2-microgram vitamin B-12 tablet is recommended for daily ingestion. A vegan option exists in ‘VegLife 100% Vegan Methyl B-12 Lozenge’. This particular product includes a homocysteine formula with vitamin B-6 and folic acid. Contact: Au Naturel Canada, Inc. A Nutraceutical Corporation Company

Incomplete Proteins

Incomplete proteins are those that lack in one or more of the 8 essential amino acids. Though incorrect, plant-based foods are commonly thought of as being incomplete proteins. For a thorough explanation, read Dr. McDougall’s thoughts on the subject.

*** All plant-based foods are classified under complete proteins. ***

Good Sources of Protein (in no particular order)

Brown rice

A healthy vegan is one that actively understands the interconnectedness of the mind, body and soul. Organic is best.


1) Neal Barnard, M.D.
2) John McDougall, M.D.
3) “The Food Doctor: Healing foods for mind and body”, Ian Marber, Dip ION & Vicki Edgson, Dip ION


Written by Ethan Handur

December 24, 2007 at 22:34

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