Top 8 vegan and vegetarian protein sources
If you are thinking about trying out a vegan diet, then you are probably wandering what foods are going to be the best source of protein for you? There are many benefits associated with a vegan or vegetarian diet and there are many animals that would be thankful they did not end up as your meal. If you are thinking about a vegetarian or vegan diet and want to cut all the meat out of your life, then this is a great article for you. In this post we are going to be sharing eight of the best vegan and vegetarian protein sources to fuel your muscles.
A vegan diet is when you don’t consume any animal products or any meat from an animal. You basically can’t eat it if it comes from an animal for example fish, meat and dairy are banned when on a vegan diet. A vegetarian diet is slightly different as you are allowed products that come from animals but are not allowed the animals meat itself. This means that things like milk and cheese are ok but beef and chicken are a no go. If you are a friend of the earth and want to be more environmentally friendly, then a vegan diet is something you should consider. With the meat industry there is also a lot of green house gasses released into the atmosphere and has many other environmental effects like pollution and global warming.
Tofu is a vegan friendly, high protein ingredient that has the potential to have an appetising taste and has a meaty texture. If you are new to a vegan diet, then this is something that will leave you forgetting about the meat. Although different forms of tofu range in protein contents, around ½ a cup of regular tofu is to contain roughly 22 grams of protein. When looking for the most protein dense tofu the firmer the better as a firmer tofu means there is more protein due to the lower water content. Tofu is made from soya beans that have been curdled and pressed into blocks like cheese.
There are also many other benefits of tofu like it being rich in minerals and help reducing he levels of LDL 9bad cholesterol) in your body. As tofu is derived from soy it has all the benefits that soya beans would have. This includes the reduced risk of cancers; this is due to soy containing many antioxidants that have been seen to inhibit the growth of cancers.
Another high protein, vegan food is peanuts. These are naturally high in protein with around 100 grams of them containing 26 grams of protein. This makes peanuts a good source of natural protein and they are diverse meaning they can be consumed in many forms. There are many peanut based products like peanut butter, bars, and cereals. Although a very good source of protein, peanuts are high in fat and calories, so you would not want to eat too many as this could lead to you putting on the pounds if that energy isn’t used.
There are also many other nuts that are high in protein, but peanuts are the most common and are used all over the world as an ingredient in cooking or just as a snack. There are other benefits to peanuts other than being high in protein, they are good for weight management as the are low in carbohydrates and improve cardiovascular health as they are low in saturated fats.
A substitute to minced meat can be lentils as they have a similar texture when cooked and can be flavoured to whatever takes your fancy. A cup of lentils has a whopping 18 grams of protein and are low in fat and calories. Lentils are also easy to cook as they only require boiling for around 20 minutes and are readily available in many parts of the world. Due to there ease to be cooked and prepared, lentils are favoured for a main source of protein for many vegan and vegetarians around the world. Being a dry ingredient, they also have a long shelf life meaning they aren’t going to go out of date anytime soon.
Beans and other legumes are also a rich source of protein and can help your put a dent in those daily intake goals. There are many varieties including lima beans, lack beans, soybeans and red beans. This vast range makes it less boring to eat as it can add a bit of variety to your diet and you can try beans you may have not tried before. The nutritional information varies depending on what beans you have but 40 grams of canned black beans can provide you with 15 grams of protein. Beans can also have a long shelf life and are available in many ways, for example you can get dried beans, canned or fresh beans. Beans are high in fibre and are full of antioxidants, they can also reduce your risk of heart disease when compared to animal sources of protein as they are lower in saturated fat, reducing cholesterol.
Quinoa is a gluten free seed that can be used as a substitute for rice and other grains. This food is growing in popularity as its health benefits are being discovered by more people. This grain is originally from south America and is considered a “superfood” for its amazing nutritional values. One cup of quinoa can provide you with around 200 calories and 8 grams of protein, this food is also a good source of fibre having 5 grams in a cup serving. Being a superfood, quinoa is very nutritious as it contains many amino acids and nutrients. It has decent amounts of minerals like magnesium and iron and if you have a gluten allergy, its great as it is a gluten free grain.
If you are a vegetarian, then Greek yogurt is something you should be including in your diet. It is high in protein as one cup can contain 23 grams of protein. It is also rich in essential amino acids so is a great post workout snack. Greek yogurt also has many variations for example, there is low fat and flavoured kinds. Yogurt is the type of food that you can pretty much eat with anything, it can go with your granola for breakfast or be a side when you have your dinner. As yogurt is made with milk this isn’t suitable for vegans, but it is rich in calcium that is a key nutrient to keeping bones strong and can affect the amount of fat you store.
Yep you heard it here, your everyday green peas are actually a good source of protein. Half a cup of garden peas can contain around 8 grams of protein, also peas contain a significant amount of fibre. Peas also encourage your body to release hormones that reduce your appetite. So, if you are on a diet then peas can make you feel fuller and reduce your desire to eat, resulting in more fat loss. Although high in protein, peas are not a complete protein source meaning they lack some of the essential amino acids. As this is the case peas are best mixed with other sources of protein to make up them amino acids peas lack. Fibre also has many benefits as it can control appetite, help you digest food, and it can also help regulate blood sugar levels. This is due to fibre causing carbohydrates to be digested slower, reducing the rate they are adsorbed into your blood stream.
Hemp seeds are considered a super food by many as they are rich in many essential nutrients your body needs. Although these seeds do come from the marijuana family, they do not get you high in an way and do not have the same effects as cannabis. Hemp seeds are high in protein as three tablespoons can supply your body with around 10 grams of protein, and this is a complete protein source meaning you get all the essential amino acids. Unlike many plant-based foods, these seeds contain all the essential amino acids making them a very key asset to a vegan or vegetarian. They are also a good source of good fats like omega – 3 which helps your body with many functions. Some of these essential fatty acids cannot be produced naturally by your bod so you are required to get them through diet and supplementing.
Overall, if you are a vegan or vegetarian you are at not disadvantage when it comes to protein than an omnivore. There are still ways to get your essential amino acids and a high amount of protein eating plant-based foods. This debunks the common myth of a plant-based diet or meat free diet not containing enough protein and causing your gains to fade away. You are still able to get all the essential nutrients your body needs to grow if you plan your meals correctly and make sure you are hitting your daily macro nutrients goals. If you follow a good diet, then you will experience nothing but positive by giving up meat.