Protein matters. Our bodies need protein in order to create and repair tissues, and also to generate certain crucial hormones and enzymes. It’s essential for good health, and it’s a great source of energy as well.
It’s easy to understand, then, why one of the biggest worries cited by people on a vegan diet is getting enough protein. This worry is compounded by the belief that the best protein sources are all meat- or animal-based.
The truth is a vegan diet doesn’t have to be low in protein at all. There are plenty of plant-based foods that are tasty, versatile, and protein-rich – several of them even contain more protein than meat or dairy products. If you’re concerned about your protein intake on a vegan diet, here are five foods you need to know about.
Nuts and nut butter
Many nuts contain a good quantity of protein. Try a handful or cashews, walnuts, or almonds, or a spoonful or two of peanut butter (25g of protein per 100g) as a snack. Seeds like sunflower and sesame seeds are also great additions.
Because nuts are often high in fat, it’s not a good idea to make them a central part of your diet. In moderation, though, they are convenient, tasty, and a great way to boost protein levels.
In addition to being tasty and filling, many meat substitutes are also great sources of protein. Tofu, for example, usually contains around 8g of protein per 100g, while a typical brand of textured vegetable protein contains up to 12g. Here is a great and authentic mapo tofu recipe for reference.
Of all the meat substitutes generally available today, seitan is one of the best when it comes to protein. Seitan – which is essentially pure wheat gluten – can contain as much as 75g of protein per 100g. This whopping figure makes it even better than many meat-based protein sources.
You might be surprised to see broccoli on a list of high-protein foods. It’s true that broccoli is a relatively poor source of protein compared to some others, with only 3g of protein per 100g. In terms of calories, however, it’s excellent. Protein makes up 20% of the calorie content of broccoli. This versatile green vegetable is also rich in other essential vitamins and minerals, making it a great choice for vegans.
This grain is sometimes known as dinkle wheat or hulled wheat, and it’s been around for a while now. Indeed, the first strains of spelt date back as far as 5000 BC.
Spelt can be used as a high-protein alternative to wheat flour in baked goods or used in sauces. With around 15g of protein per 100g, it’s easy to see why this grain has been a favorite for so many years.
Most beans contain a range of valuable nutrients, including protein. On top of that, they’re cheap, easy to use, and generally available wherever you are in the world. Other legumes like chickpeas are also brilliant protein sources.
Try kidney beans, which contain 24g of protein per 100g serving, or pinto beans, which clock in at 21g of protein. Better yet, combine a few different types of beans with some textured vegetable protein for a tasty and incredibly nutritious chili.
Despite common misconceptions, having lots of protein while on a vegan diet needn’t be difficult. There are plenty of foods (some which you might not have thought of as high in protein) that you can use to ramp up the protein levels in your diet and make some delicious dishes while you’re at it.