Yes, vegan protein sources do exist
As someone that is about 95% vegan, I often get asked two questions:
“How do you get your protein?”
I grew up a vegetarian, dabbled in meat and seafood for about a year, 5 year ago, and then made the choice to go vegan once I began having severe digestive and skin issues and realized my body just didn’t need animal products to feel it’s best and thrive.
The “why are you a vegan?” question usually stems from the “why would you deprive yourself, I could never give up meat, what would I eat?” mindset.
To be honest, I feel like I eat a much more varied diet now than I did when I ate dairy, gluten and on occasion meat (I’m also about 85% gluten free now). I enjoy food so much more now. I realized how many different types of ingredients and foods are actually available on a vegan diet because I started to get creative in the kitchen in order to make meals that not only made me feel energized but also satisfied. Let’s face it, if it doesn’t taste good, you’re probably not going to eat it.
I’m happy to say that my body is no longer addicted to dairy, bread and pastas which allows me to be more in control of my body and my food rather than the other way around.
Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to eliminate these food groups to feel and look great. There is no cookie cutter formula to how one should eat. We are all individuals and our bodies have different needs. The most important thing you can do for your body is to start becoming more mindful of what you’re putting into it and paying attention to the signals it’s giving you when you do.
By eating foods that are make you feel good mentally, physically and emotionally, you’ll be more likely to achieve your health goals.
So back to the “how do you get your protein on a vegan diet” question.
I’m a very active person and I need to make sure that I’m getting the nutrients my body needs to repair, recover and recharge. I don’t drink a ton of protein shakes and eat tofu all day long in order to do this.
There are so many great sources of vegan protein that are actually easier for your body to digest than sources that come from animal protein such as meat and dairy.
It’s totally fine if you want to still include animal protein in your diet. But it’s a good idea to vary your sources and substitute some of these vegan proteins on a daily basis, or at the very least, a weekly basis. In addition to protein many of these foods will also provide you with a good dose of fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Best sources of vegan protein
1. Beans – Black beans, cooked (7.6 grams per ½ cup); Kidney beans, cooked (7.6 grams per ½ cup)
2. Green peas (7.9 grams per cup)
3. Legumes – Lentils, cooked (8.9 grams per ½ cup); Chickpeas, cooked (7.3 grams per ½ cup)
4. Nuts – Almonds (6 grams per 1 oz); Cashews (5 grams per 1 oz); Walnuts (4.3 grams per 1 oz); Pistachios (6 grams per 1 oz)
5. Seeds – Hemp seeds (10 grams per 3 Tbsp); Chia seeds (5 grams per 2 Tbsp); Flax seeds (3 grams per 2 Tbsp); Sunflower seeds (7.3 grams per ¼ cup); Sesame seeds (5.4 grams per ¼ cup); Pumpkin seeds (3 grams per ¼ cup)
5. Tempeh (15 grams per ½ cup)
6. Edamame (8.4 grams per ½ cup)
6. Dark leafy greens – Raw spinach (2.1 grams per 2 cups); Kale (6 grams per 2 cups)
7. Broccoli (8.1 grams per 1 cup)
7. Avocado (3 grams per 1 cup)
8. Quinoa, cooked (8 grams per cup)
9. Dried figs (5 grams per cup)
9. Plant based protein powders – this varies depending on the brand, but can be anywhere from 10-25 grams of protein per serving
Tina Paymaster is a Certified Holistic Health & Lifestyle Coach in New York City. Her mission is to help women regain control of their health by realizing their true potential and finding ways to balance the various areas of their lives.