For anyone venturing into the world of veganism intake of essential nutrients should be in proper amounts for better health benefits. Some vegans rely heavily on processed food and may not eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A whole-food, plant-based diet is commendable, and a well-planned vegan diet can be adequate to achieve proper nutrition. Sometimes those on a vegan diet can be at risk for deficiency in nutrients like iron, calcium, victim D, victim B12, Omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins. Vegans are deficient, especially in protein intake.
Why do we need protein?
Protein is an essential part of our nutrition, making up about 17% of the body’s weight and it is the main component of our muscles, skin, internal organs, especially the heart and brain, as well as our eyes, hair, and nails. Our immune system also requires protein to help make antibodies that are required to help fight infections, and protein also plays a role in blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism, and energy function.
Here are some easily available good sources of protein for vegans to promote muscle strength, satiety, and weight loss.
Oats are an easy and tasty way to add protein to any diet. Although these are not considered a complete meal, they contain higher quality protein than grains like rice and wheat. You can try many varieties of recipes like oat cookies, oatmeal. Oats can be ground into flour and used for baking. They contain good amounts of fiber, folate, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Lentils are a great source of protein and are known as nutritional powerhouses. These also contain good amounts of fiber, folate, manganese, iron, antioxidants, and slowly digested carbs reducing the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and excess body weight. The fiber found in lentils is known to feed the good bacteria in the colon, promoting a healthy gut. Lentils are used in a variety of dishes like salads, soups, and dahls.
Green peas are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. These contain fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate, and manganese. These are also a good source of zinc, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B, copper, and manganese. They can either be served side dishes or soups.
Milk that’s made from soybeans is a great source of protein. It is also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Soy milk and soybeans do not contain vitamin B12, so it is good to prefer a fortified variety. Soy milk is a versatile product found in any supermarket. This can be consumed directly or can be used in cooking and baking. Also, soy milk is a great alternative for lactose-intolerant people.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and especially proteins. These are also great sources of fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin B, E, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium. They also contain antioxidants. Roasted seeds or nuts may not contain essential nutrients, so reach for raw, organic nuts. Some common healthy nuts are cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. These nuts can be added to breakfast cereals, top yogurts, add on salads and soups to name a few.
Quinoa is one of the most popular healthy foods. It is like a seed that is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain. It is gluten-free, high in protein, and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants.
Tofu, or bean curd, is a popular food derived from soya. It is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block, and then cooling it – in much the same way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk. Tofu is one of those foods that sparks debate. Some cannot get enough of it and its health advantages, while others argue that it is a genetically modified food and must not be avoided at all costs. Despite its contracting stance, Tofu is widely consumed all over the world. Tofu is also a popular meat substitute in some dishes, such as kung pao chicken and sweet and sour chicken.
Green vegetables offer more than vitamins and minerals. It is often overlooked when it comes to proteins but it offers a surprising amount of protein. Foods like spinach, Brussels sprouts, and green peas all contain a fair amount of protein to balance out your plate. The best thing about vegetables is that they are versatile and can be added to any dish whether cooked or raw, soups or gravy. You can try adding cooked spinach to pasta, mixing green peas into a curry, or roasting up Brussels sprouts for an irresistible crispy side. Another bonus point about green vegetables is that they are antioxidant-rich, full of fiber, and low in calories.
Potatoes are not generally considered healthy food due to their many unhealthy incarnations. We’re talking about fries, potato chips, potato wedges, mashed potatoes, etc to name a few. But it’s actually a wholesome addition to your diet. Just one russet potato contains 8 grams of protein, more potassium than a banana, and is a good source of fiber. Other varieties like red or sweet potatoes don’t contain as much protein, but they still can contribute to the daily intake goal. There are some healthy potato recipes that you can try including baked, mashed, roasted, and fried potatoes.
Tempeh and Edamame
Soybean seems to be the source of all proteins for vegans. We can name at least 5 protein sources directly from soybeans.
Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans that are green and differ in color from regular soybeans, which are typically light brown, tan, or beige. To prepare, heat the beans by boiling, steaming, pan-frying, or microwaving them for a few minutes. Add a pinch of salt and added to soups, stews, salads, and noodle dishes, or simply eaten as a snack. One cup of edamame (not in its shell) packs 18 grams of protein.
Tempeh is a soy-based food used as an alternative to meat. It is made from soybeans that are fermented and pressed into a block. Tempeh is high in protein, prebiotics, and other nutrients. It’s popular with vegans and vegetarians because it has vitamin B12 and is a complete source of protein.
How much protein per day should a person eat?
An average inactive man needs 56 grams of protein per day while the average inactive woman needs 46 grams per day. Yes, there is something called too much protein which can be harmful to the body. Thus, a person should keep a check on their protein intake because the more physically active a person is the more protein they need.