So…Where Do Vegans Get Protein?
As all vegetarians and vegans will agree, the most common question that we get asked is, “How in the world do you get protein from what you eat?!” or “Where do you get your protein? Aren’t you worried that you’re going to get weak and not have muscles anymore?”. I’ve been asked this upwards of 100 times, no exaggeration!
But I understand why people are confused and concerned. Growing up we are taught that meat = protein and protein = meat, and you need protein (read: meat) to grow big and strong. End of the story.
There also used to be the food combining issue where veg eaters paired foods, such as beans and rice, to get complete proteins. In order for a food to be a complete protein, it must contain all nine essential amino acids. These amino acids are essential because they cannot be generated by our bodies. We must get them from food.
Recently though, research has shown that as long as you eat a varied and healthy diet, there is no need to combine specific foods at every meal. It does take a little reading if you’re considering going vegetarian or vegan, but a quick look around the internet will help you solve the protein problem.
Did you know that even fruits have protein in them to some degree? It’s true! One large, raw peach has 2 grams of protein.
Whether you’re considering going full-fledged veg or simply wanting to eat more plant-based sources of protein, here are some protein facts to get you started!
1 cup, cooked- 9 grams protein
Quinoa is one of my favorite grains to cook and eat. Quinoa is cooked and eaten like a grain but it is actually a seed. It is also gluten free and has a low glycemic load on the glycemic index! Quinoa is a complete protein. It is a good source of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous.
1/2 cup, cooked- 10 grams protein
Tofu is the old veg standby. Do you need to replace meat in a recipe? Extra firm tofu is there for you. Need something for a pudding recipe? Soft silken tofu is great for that. The beauty of tofu is that it takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with. You can bake it after marinating it in soy sauce, tamari, or marinade of your choice and the tofu will be a great texture and flavor for rice dishes, salads, wraps, or a quick snack on the go.Tofu is a complete protein and is also high in calcium.
1 cup, cooked- 15 grams protein
I love beans. I eat them every single day. They are great for controlling cholesterol, they’re full of fiber, and they’re a good source of B vitamins and iron which are important for vegetarians and vegans. Throw them in everything! Soup, salad, rice or quinoa dishes, or pasta.
1 cup, cooked- 18 grams protein
I also love lentils. I love everything on this list. Lentils are so healthy for you! They’re easier to digest than other types of beans and high in fiber. They’re also very cheap if you stick to the brown or green lentils.
There are different varieties of lentils which are different colors and run more expensive than the plain old brown ones. It really doesn’t matter which type you pick, just get some in your belly!
1/4 cup almonds- 8 grams protein
I know that some people are afraid of fat in food. Don’t be afraid of fat! As long as it is good fat, eat it up. Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats which is a type of heart healthy fat.
They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Try getting them unroasted or try raw almond butter which is a decadent treat and fantastic in smoothies.
Other veg foods high in protein: peanut butter, broccoli, brown rice, chia seeds, oatmeal, spinach, split peas, tempeh, edamame, flax seeds, avocado, brussel sprouts
Do you consume enough protein in your diet? What is your favorite high protein plant food?
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