“But where do you get your protein from?” This is perhaps the first question I get asked when I tell people that I’m vegan. There are loads of vegan protein sources out there, and the fear of being protein deficient is a bit … false. Now, I’m by no means saying that the right amount of protein isn’t crucial to your overall health. But, like everything else, balance is essential and making sure your body gets enough protein.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or maybe just looking for meat-free protein sources, you’ll want to continue reading. The ideas are endless. There are so many options to get you eating healthy and delicious meals that have all the protein you’ll need.
Here are some of my options. Let’s get started.
Pulses and Legumes
Here’s the best thing about these babies: cheap, high in fibre, vitamins and minerals – a super low-fat source of protein – versatile to cook with, great for your health, filling and delicious. Think about the different types of beans and lentils out there and the many colourful dishes you can cook with them. Are we thinking of a lovely lentil soup? How about a black-bean stew to make your own burrito? Vegetarian chilli with kidney beans? And, of course, saving the best vegan protein sources for last – hummus. Truthfully, if you want to keep to a healthy plant-based diet, the more you rely on whole foods, the better.
That’s right. Peanut butter is very high in protein, and the best thing about it is that you can easily add it to your diet. Whether you’re having it for breakfast or adding some to your porridge or smoothie, it is a no-brainer to include it in your meals. And if you ask me, it makes everything taste better. One of the best ways of having peanut butter as a snack is with your fruits – especially bananas. If you’re allergic to peanut butter or just don’t love the taste, think about trying other nut butter (almond and cashew are nice ones) or tahini. But, again, we’re talking about protein and healthy fats.
Chia seeds are super fashionable these days – and for a good reason. These tiny things pack quite a lot of good stuff in them. A 2 tablespoon (24 grams) serving of chia seeds contains 117 calories, 4 grams of protein and 8.3 grams of fibre. So it’s easy to include these guys in your diet. Add it to your smoothie, porridge or even water. And if you haven’t tried a chia seed pudding, you should. Seriously. Imagine a dessert that tastes amazing and is packed with nutrients.
Check out Minimalist Baker for a super simple and mouth-watering recipe.
Soy: Beyond Tofu
You’re all probably aware of tofu when it comes to vegan protein sources. The possibilities with tofu are endless. You can use different textures for different recipes and flavour them to make other meals. One of my favourite recipes is a stir-fry with tofu, lots of veggies and a peanut and soy sauce served over rice. But there’s also something called “Textured Vegetable Protein” (TVP) made from soy. You can buy it from most wholefood shops, and it’s inexpensive and extremely high in protein (we’re talking 50 percent). The best part about it is that you can use it like minced beef. It may just become your favourite vegan protein.
And finally, Seitan. If you haven’t heard of it before, Seitan is made from wheat; it’s high in protein and has a very meaty texture once you cook it – it makes it a great substitute. In terms of taste, it all depends on how you flavour it, which makes it a very versatile source of protein to keep around in your kitchen.
There you have it. Some vegan protein sources give you what you need. Keep in mind that many food sources have protein in them, and if you’re eating enough calories and keeping to a balanced diet, then chances are you’re getting all the protein you need.
Also a good read on How to Host the Perfect Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner!