Animal Vs Vegan Protein Sources: How Do They Compare
In the battle of beef vs. bean, many assume that vegan protein foods simply cant compete with their animal counterparts. This is largely down to the difference in their amino acid composition. When you consume protein be it animal or plant your body breaks it down into organic compounds called amino acids.
These amino acids are used to help with numerous essential body functions and processes, from tissue repair to nutrient absorption.
There are 20 amino acids in total, but only 9 are considered essential to your diet. This is because your body cant produce them, so they must be consumed in the food that you eat. If youre wondering how this relates to the animal vs vegan protein debate, this is where it should all come together.
Complete protein sources contain all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body cannot create on its own. Incomplete protein sources only contain some of them.
- Animal proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them complete
- Most vegan protein sources lack one or more amino acids, making them incomplete
High Protein Low Calorie Vegan Food Sources Table
I compiled nutritional data for over 200 vegan foods, and originally came up with a list of the best vegan protein food sources.
Then I sorted those list based on the percentage of calories that come from protein.
Here are the 50 best foods that I found. Note that all measurements are based on a 100 gram serving of each food.
Many vegetables actually have a high amount of protein relative to calories, the challenge is eating a lot of them.
In a practical diet, you should certainly be eating as many vegetables as you can , but most of your protein intake will likely come from other top foods on this list like:
- Alternative meats
High Protein Low Fat Foods Vegetarian
There are many high protein low fat foods vegetarian options available. Some popular choices include tofu, seitan, lentils, beans, and quinoa. These foods are all packed with nutrients and protein, and are low in fat and calories. This makes them ideal for those who are looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. They are also great for vegetarians who want to make sure they are getting enough protein in their diet.
The recommended daily intake of protein for adults is 0.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, according to the USDA. The American adult consumes roughly twice as much protein as is recommended, at approximately 100g per day. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein because it is a vegan meat substitute. Tempeh contains 20 grams of protein per 100 grams, and 20 grams of fat per 100 grams. Chickpeas have a high nutritional value and are commonly used in vegan and vegetarian dishes and snacks. One of our favorite vegan foods is tofu, which is high in protein and low in fat. The texture and properties of this product make it suitable for making meat and fish alternatives.
It contains 8.5 grams of protein and 0.8 grams of fat per 100 grams of protein. Legumes, in addition to lentils, peas, and beans, are excellent sources of lean vegan protein. Oats have a lot of fiber, and theyre also a great source of vegan protein.
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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 .
Vegan Walnut Lentil Loaf
This scrumptious and simple vegan meatloaf made with lentils, walnuts, carrots and all the savory spices isnt just a great centerpiece during the holiday season! Its high in protein, gluten-free, filling and really crowd-pleasing. Our non-vegan family requests it each year! If youre cooking for two, you can enjoy this lentil loaf over the course of 2-3 days alongside some baked potatoes and salad.
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Can You Build Muscle With Vegan Protein Foods
Yes! While vegan bodybuilders have been doing this for years, now it has also been proved by science.
The results of a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that vegan protein is just as beneficial for muscle mass and strength as animal protein.
Researchers looked at the health records of nearly 3,000 men and women ages 19 to 72, as well as food questionnaires that the participants filled out.
They found that people who consumed the least amount of protein overall also had the lowest measures of muscle mass and strength.
But the type of protein people ate had no impacts on musculoskeletal health, for men or for women.
Vegan Protein Sources To Help You Crush Your Macros
EMMIE SATRAZEMIS, RD, CSSD September 14, 2019
While most pant based eaters likely don’t struggle with getting enough protein for basic needs, achieving a high protein vegan diet may be a different story. Plants aren’t traditionally protein-rich, even though they can contain some protein, so when it comes to switching up your vegan macro balance to align with your fitness goals you have to know where to look. To help you crush your daily macros, here’s everything you need to know about upping your protein with plants.
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Complete Vs Incomplete Proteins
Complete proteins are those that contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs in balanced quantities. Whereas an incomplete protein is lacking in one or more essential amino acids.
Plant based proteins can often get snubbed because many are considered “incomplete”. While the naming alone is unfair, to say the least, the research suggests that whether a protein is complete may not actually matter for most people .
You can get all the amino acids you need by eating “complementary proteins” – two incomplete proteins that balance each-other out, or by getting all the essential amino acids throughout the day.
How Do Vegans Get Protein
In a traditional diet, meat and seafood make up the bulk of the protein food group, so how exactly can plants fill in the gap?
Plant proteins are not nearly as protein dense as a meat-based source. Plus they tend to be high in either carbs or fat, in addition to the protein they provide, which can make hitting your vegan macros feel a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.
Getting high amounts of protein from plants can seem challenging at first, but it is not impossible. Protein can be found in a wide variety of foods, even if it’s not the featured macro. The trick for plant based eaters is to find protein-containing foods they enjoy and aim to get them at every eating opportunity.
Moreover, food manufacturers have gotten pretty good at creating meat-like substitutes that provide more protein than plants alone to support a higher protein vegan diet.
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Vegan Spinach Ricotta Lasagna
For a high-protein, low-fat recipe, try this vegan spinach ricotta lasagna! It is bursting with flavor and features a delicious vegan ricotta filling.
Get the recipe here.
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Easy Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh
Protein: 19gCalories: 260kcal Ready in: 17 minutesRecipe by:VeganPunksBonus: marinate this first before airfrying!
Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh only needs three ingredients and takes 15 minutes to make! Its perfect for adding extra protein to stir-fries and curries. With both oil-free and low-oil options, this air-fried tempeh will really hit the spot!
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Vegan Diets May Support Weight Goals Blood Pressure Heart Health And More
For starters, vegans tend to have lower body mass indexes than non-vegans, which may be associated with lower chronic disease risk in some populations .
In addition, studies suggest that vegan diets are more effective at helping people lose weight than many other diets, including the Mediterranean diet .
A vegan diet has also been linked to a lower risk of cancer. Whats more, it also appears to reduce pain from arthritis and may further reduce your likelihood of experiencing age-related cognitive decline .
Plant-based diets are also linked to several other health benefits, including lower blood pressure, better-regulated blood sugar levels, and a healthier heart .
Because of this, several health organizations recommend increasing the amount of plant-based protein in our diets (21, 22,
Learn more about potential benefits of plant-based diets here.
Vegan Foods That Are Crazy High In Protein
Have you been told that animal flesh is the only viable source of protein? Lots of us have been but now we know its a lie. Theres protein in just about everything: even a simple bread roll has 11 grams of it. Plus, over half of the calories in the Vegemite on your roll also come from protein! Google it right now. Yep, youd have to eat some kind of weird apples-and-jelly-beans diet to avoid getting enough protein.
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A Good Option For People With Soy Allergies
Many plant-based meat substitutes, such as tofu, tempeh, and premade veggie burgers and hot dogs, are made from soy.
But soy is one of the top eight food allergens, along with milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts .
Therefore, it can be difficult for those who eat a plant-based diet but have a soy allergy or intolerance to find suitable meat alternatives.
Fortunately, seitan is an excellent soy-free option if you need to avoid the allergen. Just be sure to check the ingredient list on packaged seitan products to make sure no soy-containing ingredients have been added.
Seitan is made with wheat gluten, so its a good soy-free meat alternative for people with soy allergies or intolerances. Just double-check the ingredient list on premade seitan to be sure it doesnt contain soy products.
Protein Improves Bone Strength
Contrary to popular belief, most long-term studies suggest that protein can have major benefits for bone health. Consuming higher amounts of it can help maintain bone mass a lot better, while also helping lower the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
This specifically holds true for women, who are at higher risk of osteoporosis after menopause. Eating plenty of protein-rich foods and staying active is the best way to prevent that from happening.
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Buffalo Tofu Roasted Cauliflower & Sweet Potatoes
Amount per serving: Calories: 486 | Total fat: 25g | Protein: 22g | Carbohydrates: 46g
Hey, vegan weight loss recipes shouldnt have to be complicated! This is a very simple recipe which is perfect as a light but highly satisfying and well-balanced meal for dinner. Simply get your oven to do all the work!
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.
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How Much Protein Do You Actually Need
The British Nutrition Foundation advise that the Reference Nutrient Intake is 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for adults.
This amounts to around 56g/day for men and 45g/day for women, but the exact requirements will differ depending on your weight. Your diet type does not affect your protein requirement. There is, however, an extra requirement for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
This might sound hefty, but most adults in the UK get more than enough protein in their diet. If you make a conscious effort to include 1 or 2 vegan protein sources with every meal, youll be surprised at how quickly the numbers rack up. If you feel that youre getting enough, you might find our tips on how to increase your protein intake useful.
Regardless, when you first go vegan or embark on any major diet change, wed recommend tracking your meals and snacks on a free app to double-check youre getting enough protein and other nutrients.
High Protein Vegan Foods
Considering the big variety of high-protein vegan foods, it should be surprising that vegans are still asked where they get their protein from.
As we have shown in this article, there is no shortage of plant-based protein sources to meet your daily needs.
If you are eating a healthy diet with a variety of plant-based whole foods, you dont need to worry to much about your protein since you are most likely getting as much as you needs.
And if you are an athlete or bodybuilder looking to want to increase your protein intake, you can also supplement it with vegan protein powder.
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Use More High Protein Vegetables
Some vegetables have more protein than you imagine think mashed potatoes.
Protein-rich vegetables with the most protein per serving include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, which typically contain 45 grams of protein per cooked cup.
Consume more whole foods and less processed foods. Replace high protein animal products with high protein vegetables. High-protein vegan meals are usually packed with nutritious foods that follow one or more of these easy-to-follow tips.
We love making grilled asparagus with toasted almonds or roasting Brussels sprouts to pump my meals game and add some crunchy textures.
Protein And Weight Loss
When deciding how much you want to restrict your calories, consider your activity level and health needs. You can look at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for recommendations.
Women in their 20s with a moderate activity level, for instance, are advised to consume 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. But if youre a highly active person, you need to increase that number to ensure your body gets the energy it needs.
Eating a high-protein diet is a great way to ensure youre getting the nutrients you need for your daily activities. The most important thing is to make healthy choices. A study from the June 2014 issue of the âJournal of Nutrition and Metabolismâ noted that 1,200-calorie diets were the most common recommendation for weight loss, but it may not be enough to sustain your energy levels.
As reported in the August 2015 âObesityâ studyâ,â high-protein breakfast foods may curb hunger later in the day. Reducing your hunger overall will help you maintain a lower calorie intake.
If your goal is to cut calories, then consuming the foods with the highest levels of protein and the lowest number of calories will make it easier to get leaner without feeling hungry or deprived.
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Best High Protein Low Fat Foods
If you ask ten nutrition experts to outline the ideal diet, you will get ten different answers. The options are nearly endless. There is keto, low fat, paleo, intermittent fasting, vegan, carnivore, and everything in-between.
Nutritionists agree on fewer things than opposing politicians. And as they say, the three things you cant discuss over dinner are religion, politics, and nutrition habits.
But one thing nearly everyone agrees on is protein. Protein is every fitness enthusiasts favorite macronutrient. And for good reason. High protein diets have been used successfully for decades.
We know through experience and research that the best way to gain strength and build an impressive physique is by lifting weights and eating enough protein. Training and nutrition go hand in hand from a muscle-building standpoint.
Adequate protein intake can assist in fat loss, too. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so naturally, high protein diets fill you up better than low protein diets. This makes sticking to a calorie-restricted meal plan easier to manage.
But, knowing the benefits of a high protein diet is only half the battle. Not all protein sources are created equal. The best protein sources are high quality, high protein, and low fat. These are the foods to build your diet around.
In todays article, we will cover: