Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?
After turning vegan, this is one of the most common questions you will get asked.
This can be annoying for those of us who have been vegan for a long time, but there is actually very little awareness in the general population about how many wonderful sources of plant-based protein there are!
In fact, most vegetables, grains and pulses are rich in proteins and contain all of the essential amino acids – and it is recommended that even meat eaters get 50% of their daily protein intake from plant-based sources.
The recommended daily intake of protein for the average person is 0.8g per kg of bodyweight (according to the WHO). However, for athletes and bodybuilders, 0.8- 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight is recommended to optimise muscle growth, recovery and performance.
There are also many studies which suggest that plant-based protein is superior in building muscle, as it allows slow, steady synthesis of new proteins in the body and is generally low in unhealthy fats unlike meat which is high in saturated fats. In this article, I will highlight the best sources of plant-based protein and their many health benefits!
Soy is a very popular source of plant protein, eaten by the majority of Vegans in the form of milk, tofu, tempeh as well as plain soy beans. Soybeans are packed with 36g of protein, 87% of the recommended daily iron intake and 27% of the recommended daily calcium intake. It is also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids.
Lentils are a very versatile legume, containing 18g protein per cup, as well as 16g of fibre and 36% of the recommended daily intake of iron. There are many different varieties of lentils such as brown, green, red, puy and beluga, all of which can be used as a meat substitute in a wide range of recipes.
Peas are a vegetable which are often overlooked, but they have an impressive nutritional profile, per 100g they contain 5g of protein and just 81 calories, as well as 66% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. You can also purchase pea protein powder, which is generally easier to digest than other protein supplements, with 15g protein and just 80 calories per scoop!
Quinoa Quinoa is a grain which is suitable for those sensitive to gluten and wheat and also has a low glycaemic index, meaning it will not rapidly spike your blood sugar. Per cup, it contains 4.4g of protein and all of the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is generally lacking in plant-based proteins. Quinoa has a delicious nutty taste and crunchy texture, making it a delicious substitute for rice in dishes
Oats are a staple in many people’s diet, but are often overlooked as a protein source. Although they are primarily a source of carbohydrate, oats contain an impressive 17g protein per 100g making them an excellent choice for breakfast. They are also high in fibre and beta-glucan, which are known to lower cholesterol.
Peanuts are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, with 20.5g protein per ½ cup (the highest protein content of all nuts) and are a delicious, satisfying snack. Nut butters are also a convenient way to add protein, but be careful and opt for nut butters with minimal added ingredients and salt.
Seeds in general are an easy way to add protein to your diet, and can be added to anything. Opt for hemp seeds to add the biggest protein boost, at 5g per tablespoon, or flax and chia seeds which contain 3g protein per table spoon and are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and fibre.
Chickpeas are a delicious healthy legume, rich in fibre, iron, potassium and selenium. With 14.4g protein per cup, they are a delicious addition to the diet in the form of hummus, chickpea pasta and even as a flour substitute!
These are just some of the many vegan sources of protein, and there are many more. It is important to include a range of these sources to keep your diet balanced and interesting, whilst ensuring you get all the nutrients you need.
Whether you are already a vegan looking to build muscle, or you are interested in transitioning to a vegan diet or simply want to add more plant based foods to your diet, I can help you reach your goals! Please don’t hesitate to contact me below, I can offer one-to-one coaching, personalised meal plans and support to help you become the best version of yourself.