Vegan Protein or plant-based protein is one and the same thing. Vegan foods are highly nutritious and easily accessible. These foods work like a charm for vegetarians and vegans as they have limited options to fulfill their protein needs. Nowadays, more and more people are in need of vegan protein sources as vegetarianism is growing as a trend and lifestyle choice. This healthy shift in dietary habits is becoming convenient with more availability of vegan protein sources. There can also be other personal as well as cultural reasons for relying on non-meat protein sources. They can be dietary, religious, or concerning animal welfare. The vegan protein sources can suffice the protein requirements of almost all age groups and types of people. However, it is vital to calculate all the nutrients, including protein, calcium, iron, vitamin b12, etc., to ensure a balanced diet.
Experts recommend a minimum everyday protein intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. However, people who want to gain muscle or pregnant or lactating mothers may require more than the average amount of protein. Animal products such as milk, eggs, and meat are all excellent natural sources of high-quality protein. People who can consume this face no problem in delivering the daily protein needs to their bodies.
The human body produces 11 essential amino acids but must get at least another nine from food. Animal products are complete forms of protein, meaning they contain all the vital amino acids. Some plant-based protein sources are also complete proteins, while others are mostly incomplete proteins. Therefore, a person preaching a vegan or vegetarian diet should make sure to eat a varied diet of plant-based foods to gain the average need for amino acids for the body. This includes high-protein foods, such as tofu, lentils, nuts, quinoa, and some vegetables.
Table of Contents
- The Right Vegan Protein Sources-
- 1. Tofu – A Versatile Vegan Protein Source
- 2. Lentils – The Top Green Vegan Protein Source
- 3. Quinoa – High Protein Sources for Vegetarians
- 4. Chia Seeds – A Complete Vegan Protein Source
- 5. Chickpeas and Beans
- 6. Nutritional Yeast
- 7. Oats
- 8. Spirulina
- 9. Green Peas
- 10. Broccoli – A Great Plant-Based Protein Source
- 11. Hempseeds
- 12. Sprouts
- 13. Seitan
- 14. Soy Milk
- 15. Wild Rice
- 16. Nuts
The Right Vegan Protein Sources-
The suitable vegan protein sources can be extremely nutritious along with having fewer calories. Specific non-meat protein sources are even regarded as the best plant-based protein and contain more protein than non-vegetarian sources; this fact busts the myth of plant-based protein sources not being protein-rich. These include foods like quinoa and soybeans that contain all nine essential amino acids. Incorporating these vegan protein sources ensures a diet that can promote satiety, muscle strength, and weight loss. Without any further delay, let us discuss some of the top vegan protein sources and their importance.
1. Tofu – A Versatile Vegan Protein Source
Tofu is a vegan protein source that originates from soybean. Soybeans are wholesome protein sources containing essential amino acids. Tofu is a vegan protein food made up of bean curds pressed together. It does not have much taste but is a great food to experiment with as it can easily absorb tastes and flavors. Thus people can use tofu in various recipes without any problems. Tofu also has some amount of potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin A. Hence, tofu is one versatile vegan protein source easily available in the market.
2. Lentils – The Top Green Vegan Protein Source
Lentils are among the top green vegan protein sources. One cup of lentils can provide up to 18 grams of protein. Lentils are a famous food in dishes such as salads, soups, daals, etc. The rich vegan protein source also contains slowly digestible carbs, which makes it suitable for weight loss. A single cup of lentils can provide almost half the daily requirement of fiber. The fiber also promotes the activity of good bacteria, making sure of optimum gut health. These benefits of lentils make it a suitable vegan protein source which may help eliminate the risk of heart ailments, diabetes, and even cancer. Other essential nutrients present in lentils are manganese, iron, and folate. In addition to this, vegan food also has health-promoting antioxidants.
3. Quinoa – High Protein Sources for Vegetarians
Quinoa is another whole vegan protein source. It is a cereal that, in reality, does not grow on grasses like other cereals. This is the reason they are also known as “pseudocereals”. But just like grains, quinoa can be grounded into flour. This is a rare property of pseudocereals and grains like quinoa that contains whole proteins of high amounts. Quinoa is also a decent source of fiber, complex carbs, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
Also See: When to Drink Protein Shakes?
4. Chia Seeds – A Complete Vegan Protein Source
Chia seeds are again a complete vegan protein source. These tiny miraculous seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids. The seeds are immensely high in omega-3 fatty acids and are commercially procured mainly for this nutrient. 28 grams of chia seeds contain roughly 5 grams of protein. The nutty-flavored seeds are also rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium. Chia seeds are not only a great source of protein and other nutrients but also a great food for garnishing purposes. The best way to consume chia seeds is first to ground them and add in smoothies, pies, pudding, etc. These little seeds are also a great vegan protein source that promotes fast and healthy weight loss. Try Chia seeds for weigh loss.
5. Chickpeas and Beans
Most varieties of beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, etc., are good vegan protein sources. Chickpeas are a form of legumes rich which have a high protein content. Both chickpeas and beans contain nearly15-20 grams of protein. These foods are also abundant in essential nutrients, namely, iron, fiber, folate, carbs, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc. They truly contain a number of health-beneficial plant compounds. Studies have shown that legumes and beans may help lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, regulate blood pressure, and cut down belly fat. One delicious way to consume chickpeas is to roast them, sprinkle some spices on them, relax and enjoy the vegan health benefits.
6. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is another among the tastiest vegan protein sources. It is a commercial food item sold in the form of yellow flakes or powder. This makes this vegan protein source versatile, making it an enrichment for dishes with mashed potatoes and tofu. Other foods that can include nutritional yeast are pasta and even popcorn! It is a complete plant protein source that provides 14 grams of protein for every 28 grams of it. The same quantity also offers 7 grams of fiber which is great for digestion. Fortified nutritional yeast is another modified source that is excellent for health as it provides many nutrients such as zinc, copper, magnesium, vitamin B, manganese, etc.
Coarse oatmeal, pinhead oatmeals, steel-cut oats are all the same category of oats. Oatmeal or oats are a great vegan protein source. Half a cup of dry oatmeal can provide almost 6 grams of protein and fiber of 4 grams. The same quantity also contains zinc, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. Lile other grains such as wheat and rice, oats may not contain a high-quality or complete form of protein. However, oats are other vegan protein sources that have other nutrients in one place. It is again a versatile vegan food with which one can prepare many recipes such as oats porridge, oatmeal burgers, oatmeal noodles, etc.
The blue-green algae is the powerhouse of nutrition. Spirulina is another top food among the vegan protein sources. It is a complete form of protein that offers 8 grams of protein just in 2 tablespoons. The non-meat protein source also provides decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, etc. On top of it, vegan food also contains 22% of daily iron needs and 42% of copper needs. The nutritional value also does not forget about the fatty acids, which is a weight-loss-friendly nutrient. Spirulina is even regarded as having some anti-cancer properties as it contains Phycocyanin, a natural pigment with natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, spirulina may also regulate blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. All in all, this vegan protein source is by far one of the best as it offers many health benefits altogether.
9. Green Peas
Green peas are another easily available vegan protein source. The tiny green peas contain 9 grams of protein for one cup, which is surprisingly more than protein in milk! Green peas can also serve one-fourth of the daily nutrition need when it comes to fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It also provides essential minerals such as folate, manganese, and thiamine. Along with protein, green peas are also a good source of zinc, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, vitamin B, etc. Indians do love many recipes, including green peas, and also appreciate its many health benefits.
10. Broccoli – A Great Plant-Based Protein Source
It is a beautiful and edible plant head that belongs to the cabbage family. The tree-like structure of this vegan protein source is dark green in color and is also a great source of iron. Broccoli is a great authentic plant-based protein source that also offers other various nutrients. One cup of broccoli contains a decent amount of protein, fiber, vitamins C, and vitamin B. The other minerals present in broccoli are calcium and magnesium.
Hempseeds are another category of seeds that is a great vegan protein source. The little seeds contain 10 grams of whole and digestible protein for every 28 grams of it. This quantity of protein is considerably higher than that present in flaxseeds and chia seeds. Other essential nutrients that hempseed contains are iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium. Not just that, the seeds are also a decent source of the powerful omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids, which is a boon for human health. There are some types of fats present alongside protein in hempseed that may reduce inflammation, symptoms of PMS, skin concerns, menopause, etc. An excellent way to consume hempseed is to sprinkle them on cornflakes or muesli in the breakfast.
Brussel sprouts or any grain sprouts are a great plant-based source of protein. Legumes and sprouting grains have an immense amount of nutrients in them. Many studies show that sprouting can enhance the amino acid content of seeds. It increases the content of lysine, an essential amino acid. Lysine is tremendous for improving the quality of the protein. Sprouts also give out the essential fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, etc. The vegan protein source also complements weight loss if consumed with the correct diet and fitness routine.
Seitan is also known as ‘wheat meat’ and is a popular vegan protein source. The main protein in this vegetarian food is gluten. It is called wheat meat because it looks like meat, and its texture is also nearly the same. Seitan has a whopping 25 grams of protein in 100 grams of its quantity. The vegan protein source also contains a decent amount of selenium, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. Using some internet recipes, one can easily make their own seitan using the essential wheat gluten alone. The food can go friendly with multiple types of recipes; however, vegetarian or non-vegetarian people with celiac or gluten intolerance should avoid it.
14. Soy Milk
Milk fortified with minerals and vitamins, or milk made from soybeans is a great alternative to regular milk and is an excellent vegan protein source. Soy milk not only contains a reasonable amount of protein but also has other vital nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Soymilk is now readily available in supermarkets and sold commercially. It is another vegan protein source that is versatile to cook with and goes pretty well with baking recipes. But, it is wise to select unflavoured or plain soy milk with no sugar.
15. Wild Rice
People have heard a lot about brown rice and basmati rice. Well, it’s time for wild rice to shine! Wild rice is one of the best vegan protein sources and contains almost double the amount of protein present in other rice varieties. One cup of cooked wild rice contains 7 grams of protein, with a lot of fiber, enriched with minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, etc. Wild rice is covered with bran too which enhances its nutritional profile as bran consists of fiber and many minerals and vitamins. However, washing wild rice before cooking it is a must as it may have some pollutants.
Dry foods like nuts, seeds, and their derivatives are all tremendous vegan protein sources. Just 28 grams of nuts contain 7 grams of protein. Other important nutrients present in nuts are healthy fats, fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B, and vitamin E. Nuts are those vegan protein sources with ample antioxidants immunity-boosting properties. However, the nutritional value of nuts may hamper while roasting or blanching. Hence it is vital to make sure to buy plain nuts. Opting for natural nut butter is also a good idea to extract the health benefits of nuts.
These are the best vegan protein sources, and most of them are now readily available either in supermarkets or online grocery stores. Some other excellent plant-based protein sources are nature’s best gift, i.e., fruits and vegetables. Spinach, potatoes, sprouts are great vegetarian protein sources. When it comes to fruits, berries of all categories, bananas, guava, etc., have abundant protein in them. It is best to go for all-natural sources of protein in comparison to other types. Hence, despite many myths regarding the availability and potency of vegan protein sources, vegetarian foods fulfill the nutritional requirements effortlessly. When it comes to protein, make sure to select the food that contains at least 9 essential amino acids to satisfy the body’s protein needs. Choosing a variety of vegetarian foods can help achieve this requirement.