Vegetarians know the idea that they need to combine in the same meal two different sources of proteins, such as beans and rice, to get a “complete” protein from plant foods. New research has shown that it is not necessary.
This idea dates back to the time when the vegetarian and vegan diets are just starting to break down in the foreground. The book that has made a huge impact on thinking about nutrition and ecology, “Diet for a small planet” by Frances Moore Lape, published in 1971 contained information that plant foods contain incomplete proteins that the vegetarians and vegans need to combine proteins from various sources at each meal to provide “complete” proteins. Considering to the huge impact of this book, it is no wonder that this idea is incorporated in the base of vegetarianism.
At the time the book was published, the idea was considered nutritionally and scientifically correct. She comes from a research on rats (article about it was published in the Journal of Nutrition even 1961).
However, this is not the case, as several contemporary research disprove the conclusions reached by the researchers in the mentioned article.. What is in this story true – that certain foods of plant origin do not contain all the amino acids. However, what is not true is that you have to combine the same meal carefully with plant proteins that would not be in deficit. Why? Because our body is able to store amino acids!
Therefore, if for example – you eat oatmeal for breakfast and beans for lunch, you can get “complete protein.” There is no reason to eat them together.
So, it is not necessary to eat rice and beans together to keep you healthy. As long as you eat a varied plant foods, whether you are a vegetarian or vegan, you have no reason to worry about whether you’re getting enough proteins or that there would be a “complete protein”. Our body is a lot smarter than some researchers thought.
source: “Diet for a small planet” book by Frances Moore Lape