Vegans and vegetarian diets may not be able to provide adequate protein to the body. But, it’s not impossible to acquire it through a well-planned and balanced diet. Such a diet will provide your body with all the necessary nutrition you need to keep you healthy and fit.
Why do we need protein for our body?
Protein helps your body build healthy bones, muscles, immune system, tissue repair, and many more. Proteins aid in satiety, strength, and weight loss. Humans require around 10-15 percent of calories from the dietary or supplementary protein. About 10-20 percent of these calories can be obtained from the proteins of whole plant foods applicable for vegan and vegetarian such as grains, legumes, and veggies. Again, not all the body protein is obtained from the diet. Your body also stores amino acids, which are the protein building blocks. This completes the total protein percentage of the body protein requirement.
So, a well-planned diet with adequate protein intake will help with the body’s protein requirement. The requirement of protein depends on an individual’s sex and age. Your health status, being pregnant, and activity levels will alter protein intake requirement to a certain degree. In general, your protein intake every day is in grams. Multiply your weight by 0.36, and the value is your protein intake requirement per day. Say your weight is 150lbs, then your protein requirement is 55g each day.
The need for a well-balanced diet
Protein requirements for each individual are different. It is dependent on the age, activity levels, health status, and sex. Not every plant food can give you the same level of protein. Some comprise of more protein and some lesser. A well-balanced diet can suffice all the needs of vitamins, minerals, proteins, calcium, iron, etc., in the right proportions. This is essential to get appropriate nutrition for a healthy body and mind. Higher protein food promotes the development of muscle mass and aid in weight loss.
Vegan diet-what is it?
A vegan diet comprises of plant foods solely. The diet consists of soups, stir-fries, stews, salads, curries, and casseroles made of whole plant foods. They have plant-only styles of tacos, pizza, burgers, loaves, lasagna, sandwiches, pancakes, and desserts.
What is a healthy vegan diet?
It is essential to have a healthy vegan diet to avoid a lack of nutrition and any deficiencies. A healthy diet has preventative advantages, while an unplanned diet can be unhealthy. It comprises four groups of food in healthy proportions-Grains, Legumes-seeds-nuts, fruits, and veggies.
Vegetarian Diet-What is it?
A vegetarian diet abstains from consuming poultry, meat, and fish. There are different types of vegetarianism. They are:
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
- Pescetarian diet
- Vegan diet:
- Flexitarian diet
Protein Vegetarian Diet
A healthy vegetarian diet has protein in the right proportions through plants and some animal-derived foods. It has to be well planned and balanced in 3 macronutrients, fats, and carbs. A female ought to get 5oz. protein per day and a male between 5.5oz.-6oz.
Protein Vegetarian Diet: Key point
Vegan and vegetarian are both primarily based on plant-based foods. But a vegan is a sole plant-based food while a vegetarian incorporates dairy and egg sometimes. A vegan avoids all the animal-derived food such as honey, eggs, and dairy. Both vegan and vegetarians prefer their food to plant source foods for healthy nutrients and personal choice or belief.
The emphasis of protein requirement to Vegans and vegetarians
Unlike non-vegetarians who can obtain their protein through meat, vegetarians and vegans have to meet that protein intake through plant foods primarily. This is why their protein sources are limited. This can make them susceptible to different nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, this is essential to ensure that sufficient Vitamin D, B, protein, and calcium are incorporated through their diet.
We have now understood the difference between vegans and vegetarians, the need for proteins to stay healthy, and why you need a well-balanced protein diet. Let’s look at the best protein sources for Vegans and Vegetarians to fulfill your protein intake per day.
Best Vegan sources of high-protein
Plant foods have healthy protein and are beneficial to minimize animal proteins by making a good substitute for non-vegetarians as well.
We can get black, white, red, or mixed varieties of Quinoa. About 4grams of protein can be obtained from cooked Quinoa of about 100g. It is a complete protein as it comprises of all the 22 amino acids. It makes an excellent substitute for carbohydrates like couscous and rice. Quinoa has all the forms of amino acids that are essential for the body.
Along with protein, it has good fibre content as well. A cup of Quinoa in cooked form can deliver about 5 g of fibre. It is also rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, thiamine, manganese, and phosphate. It is gluten-free and so it is beneficial in people to obtain protein who are gluten-sensitive.
Pulses are nothing but edible seeds which are grown to consume. They are peas, beans, and lentils. They are affordable, low-fat, and good protein source of plant food.
Lentils are packed with proteins, and they come in tiny forms. They deliver vegan protein and also fiber. For instance, half a cup of cooked lentils provides fibre of 8 g protein grams. The right amount of Fibre aids in maintaining your ideal weight as well.
Beans provide iron and fibre as well. They can be added to dips, in soups, tacos, and salads to get protein content.
Edamame or green soybeans. They are rich in Vitamin K, folate, magnesium, probiotics, Vitamin B, phosphorous, and fiber. You can add them shelled or after removing the shell. Add them to stir-fries, salads, and grain bowls to get the protein content within them.
Green peas are savored in soups, as a side dish or salads.
There are varieties of pulses:
- Hummus and Chickpeas provide 7 protein grams per 100g of cooked chickpeas.
- Garden peas provide about 7 protein grams per 100g of cooked green peas
Soy Bean curd or Tofu can provide 8 protein grams per 100 g of tofu. It is a versatile food. It is cooked in several ways from stir-frying to baking to soups to salads. It has high protein content.
Seed and Nuts
These are versatile foods that are used as snacks or included in meals. They keep you energized all through the day. They have sufficient protein in them. Hemp seeds are protein-enhanced and also abundant in omega-3s. They can be sprinkled on smoothies or can be taken along with oatmeal.
Best protein sources of seeds and nuts are:
- Hemp seeds
- Ground linseed
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cashew nuts
- Brazil nuts
Chia seeds of about a tablespoon can provide about 2 protein grams. You can just use it in your breakfast or sprinkle over soups and salads or make a dessert. It is an egg substitute for vegans. They are hydrophilic seeds, which means they expand upon soaking them in water for around 20 minutes.
Chia seeds are dense in nutrients. They are omega-3 rich, fibre and protein-rich. They can be combined in making smoothies bake them blended in other foods and make jam from chia seeds to add on your toast.
Buckwheat is a high fibre and high protein seed. 100g of cooked buckwheat provides about 5 protein grams. It is a gluten-free food source. It is currently very popular. It is found as groats, flakes, flours, and pasta. It makes a good protein-rich vegan diet source.
Oats is a complex carb with a gradual release in energy. It is very fulfilling and a rich source of protein. About 10 protein grams are obtained for 100g of cooked oats.
Wild and Brown rice
These are carbs primarily, but brown and wild rice are also protein-filled adequately. About 4 protein grams are obtained from 100g cooked rice. They are rich fibre source as well.
Other Vegan Gains
Some other abundant protein sourced grains are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Jerusalem artichokes
Vegan diets: Key Point
Vegan diets include plant food sources without including dairy or eggs. Several protein-rich sources can be included in a vegan diet plan to get an adequate amount of protein per day for any individual. Based on the protein proportions, as mentioned above, one can get a well-balanced diet with adequate quantities of protein incorporated in the diet.
Best Vegetarian sources of high-protein
All the vegan dietary food sources are included in the vegetarian diet too. However, vegetarians are of different types, as mentioned above. So, they are likely to include eggs and fish at times. Dairy is, however, generally included in a vegetarian diet.
Some of the protein-rich food sources for a vegetarian are:
- Greek Yogurt: For one cup, you will get 23 protein grams.
Greek yogurt is used for layering on fruits, add in smoothies, layering granolas in parfaits, in dips, and as a substitute for sour cream. It aids in providing probiotics that are healthy for the gut and is calcium enhanced. It is best in plain yogurt form, which can be savored comfortably as it has no added sugar.
- Cottage Cheese: For half a cup of cottage cheese, you get 14 protein grams.
Cottage cheese is protein-enhanced but also is high in sodium when compared to Greek yogurt. So, savoring it as a topping to fruit or as a dip is best to keep a watch on your intake of salt as well.
- Peanut Butter: For 2 tbsps, you will get 7 protein grams.
Peanuts and peanut butter are rich in protein, fibre, and fat. This is a top combination of full nutrition. It keeps you full. It can be added in smoothies, applied on toast, and in making a sauce for some dishes.
- Almond Butter.
Almonds have a trifecta of super filling fat, protein, and fibre. Almond butter can be applied on toasts. Grab almonds for a snack or add them in salads to get protein in your food.
- Eggs: One large egg can give you 6 protein grams.
Eggs are not just a breakfast food. It is misunderstood to being cholesterol high; however, cholesterol is not raised by eating cholesterol. Skip the egg whites if needed. The egg yolks are protein-rich, nutrient-rich, rich in antioxidants, and vitamins.
Vegan Protein sources: Key Point
Protein sources for vegetarians include dairy and eggs. However, for people who are gluten sensitive, lactose intolerant and other food allergies will have to keep the protein intake through these foods at bay. Vegetarians do have a wider range of protein foods at their disposal when compared to vegans in specific.
Now, we will look at the best protein resources that can be taken by both vegetarians and vegans in common. We are considering only plant foods here. It is, however, obvious that all vegan food is ideal for a vegetarian as such.
Protein-rich plant foods are:
This is rich in proteins. It is made from the wheat protein-gluten. This is similar to the texture and looks of meat after cooking. It mimics soy-based meats. It is also known as wheat meat/gluten. It provides you 25 protein grams for every 100g. This is one of the highest in plant protein. Phosphorous, iron, selenium, and calcium are other nutrients that can be obtained with Seitan. It can be sautéed, pan-fried, or grilled. It can be combined in various other dishes. It has gluten, so people with gluten sensitivity should avoid it.
It originates from soybeans. Soybeans are rich in protein. They provide essential amino acids to the body. It carries a nutty flavor. It can be used in a range of recipes, just like Edamame and tofu. You can use it in burgers, chilis, and soups. They are rich in calcium and iron as well. Tempeh provides 10-19 protein grams for 100 grams of cooked Tempeh.
- Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional Yeast is a Saccharomyces cerevisiae’s deactivated form. It is commercially available as yellow flakes or powder with a cheesy flavor. For one ounce/28g of nutritional yeast, you will get 14 protein grams and 7g fiber. It is a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, Vitamin B, and manganese in fortified form. You will get Vitamin B12 only in fortified form. It is very popular in scrambled tofu, mashed potatoes, and other dishes. It can be used as a topping on pasta dishes or as a flavorful seasoning on popcorn.
- Grains: Teff and Spelt
These are ancient grains like einkorn, sorghum, farro, and barley. Teff comes from the category of annual grass, while Spelt is a wheat type. The former is free from gluten while the latter comprises of gluten. Both provide 10-11 protein grams for every 240ml cup in their cooked form. They are rich in protein as compared to other grains of this category. They also are good in fibre, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous and complex carbs. Other than this, it has zinc, vitamin B, and selenium in them. Both of these ancient grains are right and healthy substitutes for common grains like rice and wheat. They can be used in baked recipes, risotto, and polenta.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae. It is a powerhouse of nutrition. About 2tbsps of Spirulina offers you 8 protein grams. This is a complete protein source. This can cover almost 22 percent of your requirements of thiamine and iron and nearly 42 percent of copper every day. It also comprises riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients needed by the body. It comprises of essential body fatty acids. Phycocyanin is a pigment present naturally in spirulina. This makes it an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancerous protein source. It minimizes BP, builds immunity and lowers levels of cholesterol.
This grain, like quinoa, is gluten-free. They are not raised from grasses like cereal grains such as corn. They are hence called pseudocereals. They can be ground to flours and prepared like common grains. Amaranth offers 8-9 protein grams for a 240ml of cooked Amaranth. They are whole protein sources, unlike other common grains. They are a rich source of manganese, complex carbs, phosphorous, fiber, iron, and magnesium.
- Ezekiel Bread and sprouted grain bread
Ezekiel bread is a bread that is made from sprouted whole legumes and grains that are organic. Among the sprouted grains and legumes are millet, soybeans, wheat, lentils, spelt and barley. About 8 protein grams are provided in two Ezekiel bread slices. This is comparatively a little more than a loaf of ordinary bread. Sprouted grains/legumes bread has more healthy nutrients and minimizes the anti-nutrients amount. Amino acids are enhanced with sprouting. Lysine is one such amino acid that enhances with sprouting. So, sprouting enhances protein content as well on the whole. Combining legumes with grains can also enhance amino acid content in the bread even more. Not only this, but sprouting also enhances soluble fibre, vitamin-E, Vitamin-C, folate, and beta carotene within the bread. Gluten content is also minimized. This way, gluten-sensitive people can also digest such bread without any issues.
- Soy Milk
Soybeans are used to make soy milk and then fortified with minerals and vitamins. This is an excellent substitute for cow’s milk. This enables people to have milk who are lactose intolerant. A cup of soy milk of about 240 ml will provide 7 protein grams along with Vitamin B12, calcium, and Vitamin D. In its natural form, soybeans or soy milk do not have vitamin B12. It is fortified with vitamin B12. It can be taken directly or in baking and cooking recipes. Use the natural one and not the flavored soy milk to reduce on added sugars.
- Oatmeal and Oats
Oats are good way of obtaining protein in your diet. Dry oats of about 120ml cup provide 6 protein grams and 4g fibre. It also comprises of reasonable quantities of zinc, folate, magnesium and phosphorous. Oats are not a complete protein but certainly a protein of high quality when compared to common grains such as wheat and rice. You can use oats in making a wide range of recipes from veggie burgers to oatmeals. Oats can be made into flour, and recipes can be backed using the flour.
- Fruits and Veggies that are rich in protein
Veggies and fruits have proteins but in lesser quantities. But not all of them are the same either. Some may contain more protein than others.About 4-5 protein grams are provided in each cooked cup of these veggies.
Most protein veggies include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
Sweet corn comprises of this protein amount. However, it is considered a grain. Fresh Fruits comprise lesser proteins than veggies. They have 2-4 protein grams for one cup.
Fruits that contain the most proteins are:
Other Vegan Protein Rich Sources: Key Point
Other than common grains like wheat and rice, the other protein-rich sources are spirulina, ancient grains, soy milk, nutritional yeast, fruits, and veggies. Some comprise more proteins than others. Fruits and vegetables have comparatively low protein content than grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Vegans and vegetarians are prone to protein deficiencies when compared to non-vegetarians as they abstain from animal products and most of their derivatives. But a well-planned nutrition filled diet can save them from these protein deficiencies. This protein vegetarian and vegan diet can fulfil their daily protein intake requirements. As mentioned in the above article, there are several protein sources for vegans and vegetarians that are best in their protein contents that can be incorporated in their well-balanced diet. This will help them to get ample and right nutrition to be healthy and fit.
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