There are so many options for vegan protein, and many tasty products being developed as we speak!
As Americans, we are obsessed with protein. I think this is because every where we turn, we here “CARBS make you fat”, “SUGAR is bad for you”, “FAT can cause heart attacks”. Due to this confusion, what the heck do we eat?
We turn to PROTEIN, but we really do not need as much protein as we are consuming. Studies actually show it may be detrimental for our health (especially animal protein).
The recommended daily intake is 0.36 grams per pound.
This amounts to about:
56 grams per day for the average man.
46 grams per day for the average woman
Aside from animal proteins being bad for our health, it is also bad for the planet. Additionally, with the amount of animals that are being killed just for our food pleasure, it also a little inhumane.
Here are 7 plant-based proteins that can serve as alternatives to animal proteins:
1. Nuts, Seeds, And Nut Butters
Nuts, seeds, and nut butters are some of the best sources of protein to have on hand. This is because they’re easy to snack on on their own, spread on toast, or slip into a smoothie or shake.
They also have tons of health benefits.
Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cashews, and pistachios are also good sources of protein.
Remember that everything should be in MODERATION. Just because something is good for you, does not mean you should consume it for all meals.
A healthy daily intake of nuts is 30g (a small handful) or approximately: 20 almonds. 15 cashews. 20 hazelnuts
Tofu, made from soybeans, contains nine essential amino acids. It contains about 18 grams of protein per 100 grams. It’s also a classic vegan staple and there is so many fun, creative dishes you can make with it too. If you scramble it, it even tastes like egg, but unlike the latter, it doesn’t increase cholesterol.
3. Beans And Legumes
Beans and legumes are great, versatile sources of protein that can be snuck into a number of recipes, they are also high in fiber, as well as B vitamins. Kidney beans are a particularly good source, with one cup containing 13.4 grams of protein. Peas – a type of legume – are also a good source of protein, with one cup containing 8.2 grams.Healthline notes, “Peas are a great source of fiber and protein, which may help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance. Pea fiber and protein support a healthy gut, as well.”
Black beans, pinto beans, soybeans, navy beans, and peanuts (yes, these are a legume!) are also effective sources of protein, as well as chickpeas and lentils (see below).
4. Chickpeas And Lentils
Like other legumes, chickpeas and lentils are great sources of protein. In fact, in 100 grams of chickpeas, there are 19 grams of protein. Lentils offer even more, at 26 grams of protein per 100 grams; they are also a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, and manganese.
According to Healthline, a number of studies have also suggested that chickpeas, in particular, are good for the bowels, improving their function and reducing bad bacteria in the intestine.
Chickpeas and lentils are also incredibly versatile, meaning you can make a number of creative recipes out of them, including lentil stew, lentil soup, chickpea tuna, and chickpea curry.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast, also known as nooch, is a plant-forward way to add protein to your diet. You can sprinkle it over salads, popcorn, or mac and cheese. It can also be used to make vegan cheese sauces. It’s not just high in protein, but it’s also high in B12 and fiber too.
Nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids our body needs –make it a complete protein.
One typical serving of nooch – around two tablespoons – contains about nine grams of protein.
A traditional Indonesian ingredient, soy-based tempeh is a delicious source of calcium, iron, manganese, and of course, protein. It has about 17 grams of protein per 100 gram serving. Additionally, because it is a fermented food, it also contains probiotics which helps the gut microbiome.
It can be marinated and seasoned to create flavor and then crumbled, baked, or fried to fit into a number of recipes. Often, tempeh is used as a bacon substitute in sandwiches or even in a traditional English breakfast.
7. Vegan Meat
Vegan meat is so tasty ,and it has all the texture and taste of meat without the animal! They’re often made from soybeans, nuts, or legumes–providing an excellent source of protein.
Vegan meat brands like Beyond Meat – an American company that produces patties and sausages made from peas and other plant-based ingredients – have called themselves “the future of protein.”
According to Beyond Meat, its burgers have all “the juicy, meat deliciousness of a traditional burger, but comes with the upsides of a plant-based meal. The Beyond Burger packs 20g of plant-based protein and has no GMOs, soy, or gluten.”
I am still reserving my full endorsement on these meats because it is not actually good for your health. They have comparable amount of saturated fat as a burger. As saturated fats have been associated with increased rates of heart disease and premature death, they are not the best option. Additionally, these meats also contain significant amount of sodium (salt).
So while these meatless burgers are great for the planet, they are not good for your health. Opt for vegan meat that showcase beans, grains, and seeds front and center.