In the past few years, eating a plant-based diet has become more popular than ever. In fact, 9.7 million Americans are now eating a plant-based diet and the number continues to grow. However, one of the main concerns of those considering but not yet pursuing a plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet is getting enough nutrients. Having a well-balanced, varied diet is key to supplying your body with what it needs. So can you get the nutrients and particularly protein you need with a Vegan diet? Here are 6 great sources of vegan protein you can incorporate into your plant-based diet.
Often when people think of a vegan or plant-based diet, they immediately think of tofu. Made from soybeans, tofu is often thought of as a bland food, with a very slight nutty flavor. However, tofu will take on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with, making it perfect for stir-fry, curries, and more. There is also a wide variety of tofu textures available for various recipes. For example, silken tofu can be blended into desserts or smoothies, whereas a firm tofu is best for stir-fry or grilling. Tofu contains a significant 10g of protein per 4 ounces and is easy to incorporate as a vegan protein source.
Available in both dried and canned varieties, beans and legumes are a fiber-rich source of protein. The legume food family includes; peas, chickpeas, lentils, and all beans. All dried beans and lentils should be thoroughly rinsed and soaked before using them to cook with. Additionally, beans and legumes are often inexpensive and perfect for adding to stews, soups, tacos, salads, and burgers. Black beans, for example, contain 8-15g of protein per ½ cup.
Primarily made from soybeans and soy flour, textured vegetable protein or TVP is often used to replace ground beef or chicken. Similar to tofu, TVP will take on the flavor of what it is cooked with, making it extremely versatile. TVP is becoming more of a mainstream meat alternative, with many supermarkets offering both frozen and dried options. As a complete plant-based protein, TVP contains 24g of protein per ½ cup. Look for them in the grocery stored as “Plant-based meat alternatives”.
Made from wheat gluten, Seitan is a meat substitute with a firm, almost meaty texture. The most common uses include marinating, stir-frying and deep-frying. Seitan contains 28g of protein per 4 ounces, however is low in amino acids so should be combined with beans, legumes or quinoa.
Containing all 9 amino acids, and high in fiber, quinoa is a complete vegan protein source. Known as a superfood, quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and comes in a variety of colors. Quinoa can be cooked just like rice and used as a meal base or side dish. Each ½ cup of cooked quinoa contains 4g of protein.
As a source of not only protein but also omega-3 fatty acids, seeds and nuts are a great addition for those on a plant-based diet. Seeds and nuts are perfect for snacking, making sauces or adding to salads. Often high in fiber, seeds and nuts offer significant nutritional value. On average nuts contain 12g of protein per ½ cup, whereas seeds contain 10g-20g per ½ cup.
It is a common assumption that those on a plant-based or vegan diet are not getting the correct nutrients, especially protein. However, as you can see from the above great sources of vegan protein, correctly fuelling your body can be simple. These suggestions are easy to incorporate into your daily meals and offer many health benefits. To ensure you are getting all nutrients you should also incorporate a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.