What Is Vegan Protein And Why Do You Need It
Protein is one of three essential macronutrients, alongside carbohydrate and fat, that your body needs to thrive. Everyone needs to eat these key macronutrients in relatively large amounts.
The British Nutrition Foundation states that:
protein is essential for the growth and repair of the body, as well as the maintenance of good health
The human body is made up of around 100 trillion cells, which are each built up of thousands of individual proteins. Every single protein plays its unique part in maintaining your immune system, producing infection-fighting antibodies and ultimately, helping your body to grow, recover and repair.
Simply put? Protein is seriously important stuff. Plus, as the body cant store it, you need to eat adequate amounts of it every single day in order to feel your best and keep your body in optimal health.
Should Vegans Use Protein Powder
Protein powder is incredibly convenient, especially for athletes. I drink protein shakes myself on a daily basis.
One serving of a typical protein powder has something like:
- 120 calories
- 20 grams of protein
Its the best way to get protein as a vegan and really helpful if youre trying to hit some tough macros.
Consider a 160 lb person who is aiming for 130 grams of protein and 2,000 calories a day. If they ate nothing but lentils , theyd get 143 grams of protein and 1800 calories. So you can make high protein goals eating just whole foods on a plant based diet, but its tough.
Its much easier just to eat a few cups of legumes with other foods, some nut butter, and then add a protein shake in if needed. At the same time, if you only consumed protein shakes, its still possible to get too much protein.
What Is Seitan Made Of
To make seitan, wheat flour and water are mixed and kneaded until a sticky dough develops into strands of gluten protein. Then, the dough is rinsed to remove the starch, leaving only the mass of pure gluten protein.
That protein can then be flavored and cooked to be used as a meat substitute in a variety of plant-based dishes.
Seitan is a plant-based meat substitute made out of wheat gluten. Its made by rinsing prepared wheat dough to remove the starch, leaving a sticky mass of protein that can be flavored, cooked, and used in a number of dishes.
Seitan is easy to buy premade in most grocery stores today. Its generally found near the tofu and other plant-based meat alternatives.
However, you can also make it at home using just a few ingredients.
All you really need is vital wheat gluten, which is a dried powder usually sold in the baking section with the nontraditional flours, and a liquid, such as water or vegetable broth.
However, many recipes also call for small amounts of other ingredients such as nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, or soy sauce, as well as herbs or spices like garlic and onion powder to add more flavor to homemade seitan. Some recipes also include chickpea or soy flour.
Youll simply mix all the ingredients together to form a dough and then slice the dough into pieces and simmer them in liquid to cook them. From there, your homemade seitan is ready to use in any dish.
Below is a basic recipe you can use to make seitan at home.
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A Comprehensive Chart Of Vegan Protein Sources
When I first adopted a plant-based diet, I wasnt sure how to best replace animal products with vegan ones.
Fortunately, it turned out to be easy to get enough protein without meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. Even better, I quickly discovered that vegan protein sources are delicious and incredibly easy to prepare.
The average person needs approximately 0.450.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily, depending on your physical activity level. Thats about 70113 grams for a 155-pound individual .
Because there are so many protein-rich plant foods, you can easily get enough protein on a vegan diet. Plus, experts agree that a well-planned plant-based diet provides all of the nutrients you need, including protein (
What Does It Mean To Be Vegan Or Vegetarian
Vegetarians and vegans are similar in the sense that they dont eat food that contains red meat, such as poultry and game, fish, shellfish or crustacea or animal by-products, such as gelatine.
Vegetarians tend to eat a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and eggs.
Broadly speaking, vegetarians fall into three different categories:
Vegans follow the same eating principles as vegetarians, with the addition of the fact they dont eat eggs, dairy or any other animal products.2
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Can You Eat Too Much Protein
There is some evidence to suggest that eating too much protein may be bad for you, but this typically relates to diets high in animal proteins such as dairy and red or processed meats. A prolonged intake of high amounts of protein was once thought to contribute to bone loss and kidney damage. However, studies now suggest that in otherwise healthy individuals there is little evidence of this effect. A high-protein diet does appear to be a problem for those with an existing condition or kidney dysfunction, but in otherwise healthy people, including the elderly, higher protein intakes may actually be beneficial by helping to prevent muscle loss.
Little research has been conducted into any risks associated with high-protein vegan diets, although it is always important to ensure that there is variety and that attention is paid to vitamin and mineral requirements, especially in pregnancy.
Plant Versus Animal Protein
Protein is made up of chains of molecules known as amino acids.
There are 20 amino acids found in nature that your body can use to build protein. Out of these 20 amino acids, 9 are considered essential, which means that your body cannot produce them itself, so you need to get them from your diet.
The remaining 11 are considered non-essential, as your body can produce them from the 9 essential amino acids.
Animal protein contains all nine essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. Plants also contain all nine essential amino acids however, besides a few exceptions, most typically offer a limited amount of at least one essential amino acid.
For instance, beans, lentils, peas, and many vegetables tend to contain low amounts of cysteine and methionine. On the other hand, grains, nuts, and seeds tend to be low in lysine (
However, as long as you eat a variety of plant-based proteins, this shouldnt pose a problem. You can still get sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids your body needs.
Despite being considered incomplete source of protein, plant foods can be easily combined throughout the day to provide you with sufficient amounts of all amino acids.
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The 18 Best Protein Sources For Vegans And Vegetarians
A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein.
However, many experts agree that a well-planned meatless diet can provide all the nutrients you need, including protein .
That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others, and new and older studies alike suggest that higher protein diets can promote muscle strength, feelings of fullness, and weight loss (
Plant-based diets have been linked to several health benefits.
The Benefits Of Protein
If youre vegan or even just thought about going vegan, youve no doubt heard the question But what about protein?? countless times.
And although it is exceedingly rare to hear of protein deficiencies in the developed world, there seems to be no shortage of concern about this macronutrient.
Both U.S. and Canadian dietary guidelines observe that the recommended 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is wholly sufficient, whether youre an athlete or not. For someone weighing 140 lbs., this would mean a protein intake of roughly 50 grams daily.
Luckily, theres absolutely no need for meat or dairy to hit this daily protein amount. Studies show that vegan protein sources such as soy protein are excellent options.
Even if youre not an athlete, there are many significant benefits to eating protein, including:
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Tofu Tempeh And Edamame
Tofu, tempeh, and edamame all originate from soybeans and are especially popular in East Asian cuisine.
Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide your body all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled before you eat them. Then, they can be enjoyed on their own or added to soups, salads, sushi, wraps, stir-fries, or rice rolls.
Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Meanwhile, tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans, then pressing them into a block.
Tofu doesnt have much taste on its own, but it easily absorbs the flavor of the ingredients its prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavor.
Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups, stews, curries, and chilis.
All three soy-based proteins contain iron, calcium, and 1220 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving (
They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls.
Lentils are also a great source of fiber, providing over half of your recommended daily fiber intake in a single cup .
In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese, and iron. They also contain a hearty dose of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds .
Whole Food And Lightly Processed Protein Options
Most of these are protein-rich whole foods but Ive also included a few of my favourite packaged foods such as veggie burgers, vegan sausages, edamame noodles and black bean noodles. I use these foods on occasion but the bulk of what for protein I eat is made up of the whole food options.
There are a couple other high-protein vegan foods that I havent included in this list as I never include them in my diet but just so youre aware of them, there is also quorn and textured vegetable protein or TVP.
Vegan protein sources are less concentrated in protein than animal sources but by including these foods throughout the day, it adds up quicker than you might think.
Youre never going to find a plant-based protein source like egg white, chicken or tuna but these vegan protein sources contain fibre and loads of micronutrients that animal products do not, making them a healthy and nourishing way to get your protein.
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Grains Nuts And Seeds
Most people have no idea how much protein theyre actually supposed to get in a day , but non-vegans always seem to wonder how vegans get enough protein. *Eye roll*
Heres the real question: if dead animals are your main protein source, where do you get your riboflavin, niacin, lutein, zinc, phosphorous, thiamine, selenium, magnesium, folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K huh?
100 Per Cent Whole Wheat Pasta 8 grams of protein per cooked cup: Great source of B vitamins and iron
Almonds 21 grams of protein per 100 grams: Great source of vitamin E, manganese, biotin, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, riboflavin, and phosphorus
Amaranth 7 grams of protein per cooked cup: Great source of iron, B vitamins, and magnesium
Buckwheat 24 grams of protein per cup: Great source of antioxidants, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, zinc, iron, folate, and vitamin B6
Chia Seeds 5 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons: Great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, boron, niacin, and vitamins B, D, and E, and contains 8.7 times the omega-3 fatty acids found in wild Atlantic salmon
Ezekiel Bread 8 grams of protein per two slices: Great source of fibre, folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E
Hemp Seeds 15.5 grams of protein per half cup: Great source of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
Peanut Butter 7 grams of protein per two tablespoons: Great source of magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6 and E
Nuts And Seeds High In Protein
Power-packed with nutritional benefits, nuts and seeds are a great way for vegans to cram in essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like protein. Here are the top five nuts and seeds to get if youre looking to increase your protein intake:
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Vegan Sources Of Protein: The Bottom Line
There are so many good vegan sources of protein to choose from.
You probably dont need to supplement extra protein powder as long as youre eating a balanced vegan diet.
But if youre doing a lot of exercise it could be helpful to add protein powder to your diet.
Remember to check how much protein you need to suit your lifestyle.
Vegan Protein Sources: 50 Best Foods
Learning how to get enough protein as a vegan is arguably the biggest challenge for a new vegan athlete.
Even though Ive gained about 20 pounds of muscle on a vegan diet, its still a challenge and takes a lot of planning.
Id like to make it easier for you with this guide. By the end, youll learn:
- The best vegan sources of protein to focus on
- How plant protein compares to animal protein quality
- Whether or not you need protein powder
- If soy is as dangerous as some people say
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Nuts And Seeds Highest In Protein
Nutrition per 1 oz :
Macronutrients: Fat 13.8g, Carbohydrates 2.5g, Protein 9gVitamins: Vitamin B9 31.2mcg 8% DV, Vitamin E 0..2mg 2% DVMinerals: Magnesium 198.8mg 47% DV, Zinc 2.8mg 26% DV, Iron 2.3mg 13% DV
Health Benefits of pumpkin seeds
Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds on the planet. Each ounce of hemp seeds provides up to 18% of your recommended daily amount of protein.
Hemp seeds are also very high in omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to help lower pressure and reduce risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that hemp seeds have many benefits, from decreasing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood pressure through to reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and contributing to healthier skin.
Hemp seeds can be used in a protein shake to boost recovery or in a fresh green smoothie to increase nutrient properties and nutritional balance to your diet.
Nutrition per 1 oz :
Macronutrients: Fat 13.9g, Carbohydrates 3g, Protein 8.6gVitamins: Vitamin B9 16.5mcg 4% DV, Vitamin E 0.6mg 4% DVMinerals: Iron 2.5mg 14% DV, Potassium 229.8mg 5% DV, Zinc 2.2mg 20% DV
Health Benefits of hemp seeds
Pumpkin seeds, with their unique green color and unordinary seed shape, are one of the best seeds to add to your diet to increase your plant based protein intake.
1 ounce of pumpkin seeds is packed with amino acids and provides enough grams of protein to fulfill 17% of your daily needs.
Nutrition per 1 oz :
The Top 15 Vegan Protein Sources
It might be challenging to eliminate meat and dairy from your diet. However, turning vegan is a choice. The worry that one faces is would I get enough nutrients from my diet? Contrary to popular belief, vegan diets can provide nutrients. But, on the other hand what becomes a problem is finding vegan protein sources.
Studies show that the majority of vegan diets do not provide adequate protein. Research even suggests vegans be at extra risk of protein deficiency. Indeed, quite a few vegan foods do not contain enough protein. However, this is partially a misconception. There are many vegan foods rich in protein. Some provide complete proteins, which even meats lack.
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Certain People Should Avoid It
While seitan is a nutritious and versatile food, some people may need to avoid it.
For instance, seitan is a good option for people who follow a soy-free diet, but it still contains wheat gluten. Wheat is another major allergen, and many people have gluten-related disorders that require them to avoid it.
That includes people who have celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition triggered by ingesting gluten .
Because the primary ingredient in seitan is gluten, eating it could cause a significant reaction if you have an allergy or intolerance to gluten.