Meat, eggs, and dairy products are such staples in so many people’s diets that they’ve never really needed to seek out or learn about alternative sources of protein. Therefore, a lot of these people have a hard time imagining how vegans manage to incorporate protein into their diets. Can you really get enough protein from strictly plant-based sources?
In short: yes! There are a variety of vegan-friendly protein sources available that can provide just as much of this important nutrient as their animal-based counterparts. As long as vegans do their research an eat sensibly, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be getting enough protein in their daily lives.Let’s learn more about protein and how it fits into a vegan diet.
How Much Protein Does a Vegan Need?
According to Reed Mangels, a nutritional advisor and dietician, vegans only need about 0.41 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 0.9 grams per kilogram. This is roughly the same as the current RDA for protein, which is 0.36 grams of protein per pound or 0.8 grams per kilogram.
Mangels attributes this difference to the fact that plant protein sources tend to be digested differently than animal protein sources, and that some plant sources may contain a different mix of amino acids than animal ones. Overall, though, there really isn’t a huge difference in the protein requirements for vegans and non-vegans.
Where Do Vegans Get Protein?
There are lots of different plant-based protein options for vegans, ranging from the well-known to the more obscure. Here are a few of the best protein-rich choices for vegans.
Legumes and Beans
Beans like kidney beans, soybeans, black beans, and navy beans, as well as legumes such as peas and peanuts, are all excellent sources of plant-based protein. They also contain a good amount of B vitamins and fibre, making them even more beneficial to your overall health.
Seeds and Nuts
You probably though peanuts were going to show up here instead! While they are technically legumes, nuts like pistachios and cashews and seeds like pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and chia seeds all fit into this category, and are good sources of protein. The nice thing about these plant sources is that vegans can easily mix them into smoothies or just snack on them on their own to make sure they’re getting enough protein in their diets.
This is probably one of the more obscure plant-based protein sources. Tempeh is an Indonesian, soy-based ingredient that is not only a good source of protein, but also manganese, iron, calcium, and even probiotics.
Tempeh can be marinated, seasoned, baked, and fried, so it can be incorporated into a wide range of recipes. It is often used as a substitute for bacon in sandwiches (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!).
This is another one that may not be too well-known. Nutritional yeast, or nooch for short, is a complete protein that can be sprinkled on just about anything to enhance its flavor and increase its protein content. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12 and fibre, giving vegans an extra health boost.