PLANT-BASED PROTEIN BEVERAGES
Let’s get one thing straight before we go any further: Most likely, you do not have a protein deficiency. We do not have a protein deficiency. And powdered-protein-shake-gulping, pectoral-muscle-sculpting Joey from the Gym certainly does not have a protein deficiency. In fact, unless you are literally starving, the odds of anyone having a protein deficiency are pretty slim. This is purely based on our own personal experience of never hearing of anyone having a protein deficiency. Where my Vegans at? Y’all know what we’re talking about. Poor, shunned and shamed vegans, forced to obtain an encyclopedic knowledge of nutrition just to salad and cranberry sauce their way through another Thanksgiving dinner while your self-righteous well-meaning family members collectively howl, “But what about your protein???”
What about it? We’ll get to that. But first, some background…
Not to brag, but we know a thing or two about plant-based beverages. When coming up with BluePrint’s version, a cashew nut and nutmeg combo, it took us months to crack that nut milk code. The stuff was delicious and it’s not surprising that the dreamy, creamy, fatty milk inspired some of what we see today. Now, in 2018, there are some tragically hip ingredients that want in on the #plant-based-milk game, like pea, algae, pumpkin and mushroom proteins, along with sunflower, hemp, flax and, a personal favorite, chia seeds. And best believe they came to play.
Nobody’s trying to be too subtle about this – the promise is plant-based protein, plain and simple. The majority of the plant-based protein beverages out there tout a minimum of 12 grams per serving. In the past, protein drinks were made from whey (the watery residual liquid after milk is made into cheese…yum). Now, with a little help from our plant-based friends, we can get the same benefits without the dairy. Or can we? Or are there any benefits to protein beverages in general? And further more, and perhaps most importantly, is there any relation between a Chia Pet and a chia seed, and if so, should we all be growing and eating these adorable little throwback creatures?
The average American adult eats far more protein than they actually need. The recommended protein intake translates into around 46.8 grams a day for a 130-pound couch potato (whose identity shall remain nameless). However, studies show that most 130-pound couch potatoes eat anywhere between 70-120 grams of protein. That’s right, between double and triple the recommended intake – without even trying to. So put down the turkey leg, my friend, and stop yelling at the vegan!
Without getting too heady about the whole thing, the misunderstanding that protein only exists in animal meats comes from the fact that red meat, poultry, and fish contain the 9 essential amino acids that we humans need to survive but can’t form on our own, while some (but not all) plant-based foods take more of a mix and match approach. However, the reason vegetarians aren’t dropping like egos at an ayahuasca retreat is that plenty of those foods do contain all 9 amino acids (quinoa and soy, for example) and we don’t actually need to have all 9 in every bite of food we eat — if we did, the French Fry would cease to exist. Now there’s a frightening thought.
As Mad Men’s Don Draper once said, “The game of advertising lies in making people believe that they’re lacking something and then show that you can magically provide it...” Or something like that, it’s a little fuzzy – we were both drunk. Come to think of it, maybe he just said it with his eyes, but the point remains and protein beverages prove it. As functional foods rise in popularity, people are looking for their bevies to do more for them than just hydrate (or inebriate); we want them to give us our vitamins, our nutrients, our antioxidants and energy. The global plant protein market is projected to reach a total market value of over 10 billion dollars by 2023, up from 7 and a half billion in 2018. A 3 billion increase over 5 years? That’s a lot of chia.
Normally we like to get our nutrients from real food that hasn’t been dehydrated and powdered within an inch of its life, but we’ll try anything once (and sometimes twice even when we should’ve only tried it NEVER). The results? Here are a couple of the stand out brands.
One might say that Rebbl, a quickly growing line of plant-based bevies, is a cause that found a product when a group of thinkers and farmers came together to find a market-based solution to stop exploitation in the Peruvian Amazon. Though it was a little too sweet for our taste, we couldn’t help going for another sip, and read enough of the company’s powerful purpose-driven mission and you might find yourself downing the whole bottle. It reminded us of a pea and pumpkin protein cousin to BluePrint’s original cashew milk.
Another winner was Koia, clocking in at 4 grams of sugar and yet still surprisingly sweet (thanks to the new plant-based darling, monk fruit). Rice pea and hemp delivers the protein punch here, and while it was a tad chalky, it was still a favorite.
In conclusion, we want to be the first to deliver this ground-breaking news:
You can, indeed, eat your Chia Pet. In fact, it might even provide more benefits than some of those plant-based protein elixirs… but don’t quote us on that, we’ll save it for another taste test.