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Fuelled by Plants: The Best Protein Sources for Vegans

Going vegan may be one of the most conscious choices a person can make, considering all environmental concerns. However, while this diet is good for ethical and health reasons, shifting...

Going vegan may be one of the most conscious choices a person can make, considering all environmental concerns. However, while this diet is good for ethical and health reasons, shifting to a meatless lifestyle is not easy. Aside from restricting yourself from food, you must fill in the same nutrients you get from meat.ย 

One important nutrient that you can easily find in animal-based foods is protein. It supports muscle growth and development and other bodily functions.ย 

And with the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound, you must start to look for vegan protein sources to replace meat already before you get started. While considering food safety and quality, we've created a list of the various best vegan protein sources for a vegan diet to help you stay healthy on this journey.

Quinoaย 

Quinoa is considered as a complete source of protein because it contains allย  essential amino acids. With a 100-gram serving of this vegan food, you can get approximately 4 grams of protein. And besides protein, quinoa is also high in nutrients like magnesium, iron, and fibreโ€”not to mention that itโ€™s gluten free. You can use it as a substitute for rice or even make it the star ingredient in any vegan meal.

Nuts and Seedsย 

Nuts and seeds are known for being a great trail mix and an additional ingredient to various vegan meal recipes. But what people donโ€™t know is that besides being versatile, theyโ€™re also high protein. See the protein content of various nuts and seeds in in a 28โ€“30-gram (1-ounce) serving:

  • Hemp seeds: 9.5 grams
  • Pumpkin seeds: 8.5 grams
  • Pistachios: 6 grams
  • Chia seeds: 6 grams
  • Flax seeds: 6 grams
  • Almonds: 6 grams
  • Sunflower seeds: 5.5 grams
  • Ground linseed: 5 gramsย 
  • Cashew Nuts: 4.5 grams
  • Walnuts: 4.5 grams
  • Brazil nuts: 4.1 grams

Just remember that when purchasing nuts and seeds, always choose the raw and unblanched ones. Roasting and blanching may lessen the nutrients present in them.

Buckwheatย 

Buckwheat is another plant-based food where you can get protein. A cup or 168 grams of buckwheat groats can actually give you about 6 grams of protein. Aside from that, they can also give you fibre and essential minerals to help maintain healthy body functions. You can either cook it like oatmeal or grind it into flour for baking.

Soy Products

Soybeans are one of the best sources of protein as they contain all essential amino acids. Not to mention that they also have fibre, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Hence, most vegan food made from soy is also rich in protein. Let's take a look at the protein levels of a few soy products:ย 

  • Tofu: 100 grams contains 8 grams of protein
  • Tempeh: 1 ounce has 5 grams of protein
  • Edamame: 1 ounce contains 3 grams of protein
  • Soy Milk: 1 cup contains 8 grams

Legumesย 

Legumes are also a go-to protein source in a vegan diet. Besides the fact that you can eat them as a cooked meal, you can easily add them to various dishes, such as nachos, quesadillas, and even burritos. Below outlines the protein content of a 1/2 cup of different kinds of legumes:

  • Black beans: 8 grams
  • Lentils: 8 grams
  • Peas: 8 grams
  • Kidney beans: 8 grams
  • Chickpeas: 7.5 grams
  • Pinto beans: 7 grams

Brown and Wild Riceย 

Compared to white rice, brown and wild rice are high in protein. In fact, a cup of cooked brown rice already contains 5 grams of protein. Meanwhile, a cup of cooked wild rice has approximately 24 grams.

Vegan Meat Alternative

Going vegan also means letting go of everything meat-made. But there's nothing to worry about because there are many meat alternatives that can give you enough protein as you begin making the switch, including Seitan and Quorn.ย 

Seitan, commonly referred to as wheat meat, has the appearance and consistency of meat when cooked. It's made of gluten and is rich in gluten. It actually contains roughly 25 grams of protein per 100 grams of serving.

Meanwhile, Quorn, or Mycoprotein, is a plant-based meat substitute made from a fungus called Fusarium venenatum. It contains essential amino acids and is a great alternative for chickens. 100 grams of Quorn mince can give you 13 grams of protein.

Fruits and Vegetables

All fruits and vegetables contain proteins, but some may have more than others. Take broccoli and potatoes, for instance. 100 grams of broccoli approximately has 2.8 grams of protein, while 100 grams of potatoes only have 2.2 grams.

Other high-protein fruits and vegetables are bananas, guava, sweet potato, artichoke, blackberries, asparagus, and green peas.ย 

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of great sources of vegan protein out there that can help you stay healthy and energised on a vegan diet. From legumes and grains to nuts, seeds, and tofu, the world of vegan proteins can be an extremely varied and tasty one. With the right combination of these vegan-friendly proteins, one can be sure to get all the essential nutrition their body needs.

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