A large piece of steak or an omelet with bacon may come to mind when you think of protein.
However, protein isn’t only found in animals. There are plant-based meals that are also high in protein.
You can still obtain the nutrients you need if you go vegetarian or vegan, or if you merely cut back on your meat intake a few days a week. In reality, a diet rich in whole plant foods can help you reduce your risk of numerous chronic conditions while also making you feel better overall.
According to registered dietitian Nancy Geib, RD, LDN, If you eat enough calories from a range of healthful foods, you can obtain enough protein on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Why is protein important?
Protein is the main component of our muscles, skin, internal organs, especially the heart and brain, as well as our eyes, hair, and nails, and accounts for around 17% of our total weight. Protein is also needed by our immune system to help manufacture antibodies that help us fight infections, and protein is involved in blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism, and energy function.
Protein foods are made up of 22 naturally occurring amino acids, which are known as the protein’s building blocks. Nine of these are essential amino acids, which means we can’t create them ourselves and must acquire them from food.
Protein also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including zinc and B vitamins. As a vegan, it’s critical to get all of these amino acids into your diet for optimal nutrition.
Combining different grains with different vegetables and pulses, such as beans with rice or tofu with broccoli, is the key to receiving the proper amount of protein and all of the necessary amino acids. When it comes to being vegan, variety is vital, as is avoiding relying on substitute items like vegan cheese to make up for any deficiencies, as they are technically processed foods with minimal nutritional value.
How much protein should I consume on a daily basis?
For an average adult, the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is 0.75g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. So, for a 60kg adult, the daily need is 60 x 0.75g, or 45g. A 74kg person would require 55g of protein per day (74 x 0.75g).
10 best vegan protein sources
Quinoa is a seed with white, red, black, and mixed variants available. Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all 22 amino acids, making it a wonderful alternative to carbohydrates like rice and couscous. 100g of quinoa (cooked weight) provides almost 4g protein.
Peas may have a terrible reputation, but they’re actually a good source of protein: 8 grams are in one cup of cooked peas.
Sprouted grain bread
Each piece of whole grain bread has roughly 6 grams of protein. That implies that before we get get to the filling, one sandwich provides roughly a fourth of your daily requirements! Whole grains are also high in fiber, which aids in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system and the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
These lightly boiled or steamed soybeans, which are frequently served in their shells, are a tasty snack or appetizer. 18 grams of protein per cup of edamame (not in its shell). What’s even better? Whole soy is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the amino acids your body need but cannot produce on its own.
Lentils, which provide roughly 18 grams of protein per cup, are the most protein-dense of all the legumes. Whether they’re brown, green, or red, you can always add them to soups, curries, tacos, or salads. Just make sure the cans are BPA-free.
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from soya and contains 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. Tofu may be prepared in a variety of ways, including baking and stir-frying, as well as incorporating it into soups to make them creamier and richer in protein.
This vegetable is cruciferous, as I like to call it. This is due to the fact that one cup of cooked broccoli contains about 4 grams of protein. That’s a lot of food for a vegetarian. Broccoli, in fact, offers more protein than some forms of meat calorie for calorie. While eating a lot of broccoli to equal the quantity in a steak would be a struggle, I believe most plant-based eaters would be up for it.
Chia seeds give nearly 2 grams of protein per tablespoon, and they can be used in breakfasts, salads, soups, or as a nutritious, protein-rich dessert. They’re also a great egg substitute in vegan cuisine because they’re hydrophilic, meaning they expand when soaked in water for around 20 minutes.
Despite the fact that it is officially a legume, the peanut contains the most protein of any regularly ingested nut (9 grams per quarter-cup serving). With 7 and 6 grams, respectively, almonds and pistachios are close behind. Grab a handful as a snack, or add a tablespoon of nut butter to your morning cereals to boost protein and satisfying fats.
These nutty golden flakes are a must-have for plant-based eaters. Two tablespoons include around 8 grams of protein, a significant amount of iron, and a variety of B vitamins.
Also see 14 daily foods for a healthy lifestyle.