Best sources of vegan protein
Protein is one of the three larger nutrients alongside carbohydrates and fats which the body needs for energy and to support growth and repair. To keep the body functioning optimally it requires all three of them.
One of the misconceptions surrounding veganism is that it’s difficult to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. Ironically this is a myth is mostly fuelled by carnivores who find it hard to get their head around the fact that protein exists in many more foods other than those sourced from animals.
So, we would just like to set the record straight….
What is protein?
Protein is essential for the growth and repair of every cell in the body and makes up the enzymes that chemical reactions in the body rely on. We need protein to help maintain healthy hair, nails, bones and skin as well as supporting brain development and the production of hormones such as insulin which helps to regulate blood sugar.
Proteins are created in the body from a combination of 21 different amino acids. We are able to make eleven of them ‘in house’ but the others need to be gleaned from the diet which is why they are referred to as being essential.
A good starting point to nip the protein myth in the bud is to think of this nutrient in terms of amino acids rather than lumps of meat.
How much protein do we need?
The recommended daily intake of protein for an average adult is set at 45g for women and 55g for men which equates to around 0.6g per kg of body weight. Amongst our well-nourished population getting enough protein has never been a real issue but requirements can vary depending on lifestyle and health. If you train a lot, then you may need more protein to support muscle recovery and the same is true if you are pregnant or trying to overcome an illness.
Protein has also become a useful tool to help with weight loss as it helps to maintain fullness and is often used to substitute some of the carbohydrate in the diet. Manipulating ‘macros’ (protein, carbohydrates and fats) has also become popular amongst people looking to improve their exercise performance or build more lean muscle.
How can vegans get adequate amounts of protein in their diet?
There is absolutely no reason why vegans cannot get enough protein in their diet. It used to be advised that vegans combine proteins with each meal to insure they get all the essential amino acids but simply eating a variety of plant proteins across the day will do the trick.
Try these plant protein sources for size.
|Food||Avarage portion size||Protein (g) per serving|
|Cooked beans||120g (1/2 of a can)||10g|
|Cooked buckwheat noodles||180g (70g raw)||9.8g|
|Cooked spelt||180g (80g raw)||12g|
|Ezekiel bread (made from sprouted grains)||2 slices||8g|
|Seeds||30g (2 tbsp)||9g|
|Soya milk yoghurt||150g||6g|
|Cooked brown rice||180g (70g raw)||4.7g|
|Cooked chickpeas||120g (1/2 of a 400g can)||9g|
|Quorn pieces (vegan)||100g||16g|
|Wholemeal bread||50g (1 large slice)||3g|
|Cooked quinoa||180g (60g raw)||10.9g|
|Rye crispbreads||2 breads||4.2g|
Don’t forget to eat plenty of vegetables in your diet as these are also a useful source of protein. Varieties such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts contain the greatest amount at around 4-5g per 100g.
And of course, as a useful way to top up on protein across the day or after training is by including shakes such as Nasty Vegan!