Can you be plant-based and get enough protein? Yes, here’s the top vegan protein sources
Part of a balanced and healthy diet means making sure you’re eating enough Macro Nutrients – Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat; as well as Micro Nutrients – Vitamins and Minerals. When it comes to plant-based diets, protein is often the macronutrient that trips people up. Protein has for so long been associated with meat, eggs, fish and dairy that plant-based eaters, especially those in the beginning stage of their diet journey, struggle to understand all the various plant-based protein sources. Not to mention how they can get more than enough protein on a vegan diet.
If you’re here, you’re probably familiar with our range of vegan bars, including our protein Trek bars which contain between 9-10 grams of protein in them. But they are snacks, supplements to your diet and not meant to replace meals (at least not regularly). While they’re a great addition for when you need that extra bit of protein in a handy snack, you also need wholefood sources of protein making up your meals.
Below are the top plant-based vegan protein sources that you can easily add into to all your meals
Products that originate from soybeans include tofu, tempeh and even edamame beans. Soybeans are considered a complete source of protein, giving your body all the amino acids it needs. In fact, you’ll find soy in our Trek Energy Bars and Trek Flapjacks; which gives them the added protein.
Tofu gives you 10 grams of protein per ½ cup and can be scrambled and served for breakfast, added to curries and stir-fries; or seasoned and baked and added to salads, bowls and sandwiches.
Tempeh gives you 15 grams of protein per ½ cup and can be used to make vegan burgers or marinated and added to veggies for a filling and nutritious meal
Edamame gives you 9 grams of protein per ½ cup and can be added to salads, stir-fries or just eaten plain as a snack.
Quinoa is another complete source of protein and delivers 9 grams of protein per cooked cup. It’s also got a good amount of fibre, iron, magnesium and manganese and can be used as a substitute for any grain like rice or couscous. It can be served alongside veggies or legumes as the grain, added to salads, chunky soups or even used inside veggie burgers.
Lentils are not only one of the most affordable vegan protein sources but versatile and packed with nutrients. A cup cooked will give you 18 grams of protein and depending on which type of lentils you use (red, brown, green or black) you can make soup, dips, add them to salads and stews, or create lentil burgers or “meatballs”.
Another popular legume for plant-based eaters, beans deliver between 13-15 grams of protein a cup depending on the type you get (black, kidney, red, butter). They also provide a lot of fibre. Beans are not a complete protein, but if you combine your beans with rice you get a complete protein. You can go Mexican and make a bean chilli with rice, make bean burgers, or add them to soups and salads.
Nuts are a staple in many plant-based diets as they can be used as snacks, added to savoury and sweet recipes and turned into “cheeses” and “milks”. Nuts are also the key ingredient in our Nakd bars and provide the protein. The amount of protein will vary depending on nuts, but on average you’ll get 8 grams of protein per ounce. You can add nut butter to oats, dressings and smoothies for added protein. Add nuts to meals as toppings, eat them plain or get creative and make your own cheeses and desserts.
Seeds are another staple and there are so many different ones to incorporate in different ways.
Hemp Seeds while not considered a complete protein have all 9 amino acids. Two tablespoons will give you 10 grams of protein along with omega 3s, magnesium, zinc and iron. Add hemp seeds to your smoothies, oats or sprinkle it on top of salads or even into salad dressings.
Chia seeds contain 4 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons and also contain omega 3s. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, turn them into chia puddings or sprinkled on top of a little toast with nut butter. Plus, when you add some water they become a vegan egg replacer, perfect for baking.
Other seeds like pumpkin ad sunflower are also great protein sources and can be eaten as a snack, added to baked goods or sprinkled on top of salads.
Yes, those bags of frozen green peas you get in every supermarket are a great source of plant-based protein! One cup yields 9 grams of protein as well as fibre, Vitamins A, C, K and folate. You can serve them as a side, add to veggie stews, make pea soup or add them to a vegan burger patty mix.
Not sure how to get protein into your first meal of the day? A bowl of oatmeal! While oats are carbohydrate heavy, they also pack protein. You’ll get 6 grams of protein in ½ cup of oats along with 4 grams of fibre. To add even more protein, once cooked add in nut butter and top with nuts and seeds.
Veggies aren’t just good for your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, many contain a good amount of protein. Broccoli, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts each give you between 4 and 5 grams of protein for every cup, cooked. Include this into meals along with legumes or grains like quinoa or rice for even more protein.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast and looks like yellow flakes or powder. You can buy it from most health food stores. It’s a plant based nutritional powerhouse with 14grams of protein per 28 grams, fibre, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and all the B Vitamins. It has an umami cheese flavour and can be added into dressing, pasta sauces, added into mashed potatoes or sprinkled on top of your avo toast.