Protein is an essential nutrient needed for a balanced diet and good health. Our bodies need protein to grow, repair, fight infection, make hormones, carry oxygen and even give us energy.
Protein is made up of amino acids building blocks. There are 20 different amino acids which can make up a protein, of which 9, our bodies cannot produce itself. Those 9 are called essential amino acids and foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids are called complete proteins.
It is suggested that you should consume 1 gram of protein per kilogram you weigh every day.
One of the hardest parts of a Vegan Diet is making sure you are getting enough good proteins in your diet. Protein is found in many plant sources from veggies, to nuts, to seeds, to grains and legumes.
There are many plant-based proteins which provide you with not only a good source of protein, but other essential nutrients as well. Below are 10 vegan proteins that are easy to include into your daily diet.
Quinoa is one of the few plant based complete proteins that contain all essential amino acids. Quinoa has about 9 grams of protein per cooked cup. Quinoa is delicious when added to some veggies as a salad or even cooked in some almond milk and topped with fresh fruit as a stand in for a bowl of cereal. Along with protein, you also get complex carbs, fibre, iron and magnesium from quinoa.
Lentils are one of the most affordable sources of protein. A cup of cooked Lentils will give you 18 grams of protein. You can easily add lentils to soups, stews or make salads or even Vegan Lentil Burgers with them. They are also full of fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates to keep you full. To create a complete protein, serve lentils alongside a grain like rice which gives you the amino acids lacking in lentils.
Another great vegan protein is beans. You can opt for white beans, black beans or Kidney Beans depending on your preference. Per cup you get 13-15 grams of protein along with fibre. Beans are delicious when added to stews, inside burritos or hearty grain bowls. You can even use them to create protein packed brownies or burgers. Like Lentils, they aren’t a complete protein so serve with rice or corn to create a complete protein meal.
Peanut Butter, Almond Butter and other nut butters are packed with protein and heart healthy fats. One tablespoon will give you about 8 grams of protein, so slather it on a piece of toast or add it to your morning smoothie or oatmeal for an added boost of protein.
Soy is another plant based complete protein, but you want to stay away from processed versions. The best sources of soy in a vegan diet is Tofu or Tempeh. The firmer the Tofu, the higher the protein content. A cup of tofu will give you 20 grams of protein, whilst a cup of Tempeh will give you 30 grams. Tofu and Tempeh can be cooked, seasoned and eaten alone or added to stir fries and salads.
Buckwheat is a seed not a grain and 1 cup of cooked buckwheat gives you 6 grams of protein. Buckwheat is another complete plant-based protein. Buckwheat comes in a few forms, you can get raw Buckwheat groats which can be cooked and eaten as a porridge or added to salads; Buckwheat Four which can be used to make pancakes or Buckwheat Noodles.
Some veggies like spinach are packed with protein. One cup of spinach will give you 6 grams of protein. Add some to salads, pastas or sneak a handful into your morning smoothie.
Hempseeds do contain all 9 essential amino acids, but because it’s low in Lysine (an essential amino acid) it’s not considered a complete protein. Nonetheless it a great source of plant-based protein. One tablespoon of these tiny seeds will give you 5 grams of protein as well as magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. Add some to smoothies, sprinkle on top of your avocado toast or add to salads and dips.
A vegan favourite, Chia seeds contain 2 grams of protein per tablespoon. They’re also the highest plant-based source of Omega 3 acids. Chia seeds make for a great egg replacer in vegan baking recipes when mixed with water and turn plant-based milks into thick and delicious “puddings”.
Green Peas contain 9 grams of protein per cooked cup. They also give you fibre and a host of Vitamins. Add peas to salads or turn them into soups and dips.