Our Favourite Alternative Protein Sources

Our Favourite Alternative Protein Sources

Protein is a crucial nutrient. It's needed for building muscles, repairing tissues, and, among other things, providing energy. For people who eat meat, consuming adequate amounts of protein is simple. Beef, fish, dairy, and eggs all contain enough amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that a body needs to stay healthy.

However, the same may not be the case for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Its often challenging for them to get enough protein, iron, and B vitamins from plant-based foods. But as a vegan or vegetarian, are you getting enough protein in your diet?

If youre concerned about your protein intake, this blog is for you. It can help you find alternative protein sources even if you prefer plant-based, vegan, non-dairy foods. Eating a varied diet that contains complementary plant proteins is an easy way to provide your body with the right amount of nutrients.

Here’s a list of protein-rich foods every vegan and vegetarian should include in their diet:

Lentils

Lentils are easily incorporated into various dishes, ranging from salads to soups to main courses. This is great news for you because lentils are a great source of protein. One cooked cup has nearly 18 grams of protein.

Moreover, lentils provide you with nearly half of your recommended daily intake of fibre. Besides, you dont want to miss this opportunity to eat other essential nutrients, such as folate, manganese, iron, and antioxidants.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain that looks very much like couscous but is crunchier in texture and has a nutty flavour. Unlike other grains, quinoa is high in protein and is naturally gluten-free.

So, its an excellent substitute for rice and pasta. But its a versatile ingredient that you can use in any dish. Go ahead and sprinkle it on your salad, make porridge for breakfast, or whip up a main course with quinoa.

One cup of cooked quinoa has almost 8 grams of protein. It also provides substantially more magnesium, iron, zinc, and fibre than other common grains. So, you cant possibly go wrong with quinoa on your plate.

Chickpeas

As a staple legume in many countries, this is a go-to protein source for many people. Chickpeas are ideal for making meals, snacks, and salads. And lets not forget hummus, a dip made from boiled and blended chickpeas.

But the uses dont stop here. Liquid from canned chickpeas is a great egg replacer (known as aquafaba).

One cup of boiled chickpeas contains about 15 grams of protein. Besides this, theyre a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and complex carbohydrates.

Beans

The list of beans is endless, ranging from red, kidney, fava, lima, pinto, and much more. No matter which one you eat, theyre packed with protein. But thats not all. It's an inexpensive way to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. Beans are often used to make soups, burgers, stews, tacos, and dips.

One cup of boiled beans has about 15 grams of protein. However, this amount can vary a little depending upon which kind you choose. Moreover, beans are full of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds.

Protein-rich vegetables

Do you know why your mom always told you to eat your vegetables? That's because some have a healthy amount of protein. For instance:

  • A medium stalk of broccoli = 4g of protein
  • 1 cup of kale = 2g
  • 2 cups of raw spinach = 2g
  • 5 medium mushrooms = 3g
  • One large baked potato = 8g
  • 1 cup peas = 8g

Even though each may not offer a significant amount independently, a salad with the right vegetables can provide a good boost of protein. More interestingly, protein-rich vegetables such as peas have lately gained a great deal of traction in the food industry. For example, pea powder is now used in many plant-based foods, such as vegan chicken nuggets and protein powders.

Nuts and Seeds

Snacking on nuts and seeds is the ideal way to manage hunger pains. But it also helps ensure you get adequate amounts of protein throughout the day. There's a huge variety to choose from, such as:

  • 1 heaped tbsp of hemp seeds = 5g of protein
  • 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds = 4g
  • 1 tbs of chia seeds = 2g
  • 1 heaped tbsp of ground linseed = 3g
  • Six almonds = 3g
  • Three whole walnuts = 3g
  • 10 cashews = 3g
  • 10 pistachios = 1g
  • Six brazil nuts = 4g
  • 1 tbsp of peanuts = 2g
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter = 3.6 g

When it comes to nuts and seeds, you can get as creative with your dishes as you want.

Tofu

Tofu is a high-protein vegan food made from bean curd. It's a very versatile ingredient, so you can cook, bake, grill, fry, or blend it to prepare any dish. Since it does not have much of a taste, it readily takes on the flavour of the other ingredients youre cooking with.

One serving (85 grams) of tofu can provide 8 grams of protein and 15% of the daily recommended value for calcium. While youre at, why not try other foods made from soybeans, such as edamame and tempeh? While tofu has a cheese-like texture, edamame has a sweet, slightly grassy taste.

On the other hand, tempeh is chewier and nuttier than tofu, as its made from fermented soybeans. Either way, anything derived from soybeans is a great vegan protein source. Whats more, it's sure to contain all the essential amino acids required for everyday health.

Over To You

Plant foods are a great source of protein full of benefits. However, being vegan or vegetarian doesn't mean you have to eat boring, bland meals. Finding a healthy plant-based diet is much easier today than it was a decade ago.

With a little bit of planning and research, you can incorporate different foods into your diet. Don't be afraid to explore new flavourful food and create exciting, well-balanced meals. The key is to find the right ingredients that have adequate amounts of all the necessary amino acids.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/complete-protein-for-vegans#2.-Tofu,-tempeh,-and-edamame

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/best-sources-protein-vegans

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321474#15-best-vegan-proteins

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