Protein is an essential nutrient. It plays a lot of major roles in the ways our bodies function but it is only needed in moderate quantity. Don’t think you can’t be fit, bulky and even muscular as a vegan. Experts confirm that a well-planned vegan diet will give you all required nutrients. Certain plant foods significantly have more protein and can promote satiety, muscle strength and weight loss.
Rich Roll, Jimi Sitko, Brendan Brazier and other vegan builders are all vegan athletes who are have altered these negative stereotypes. They are proofs that not only can plant-based protein help a vegan build strong muscles, but can as well keep them healthy enough to dance, bike, run or pump iron.
Many people think that it is not possible to get enough protein without meat. However, you can get your recommended daily protein servings if you decide to abstain from meat and fish for any reason.
- Beans, Lentils, and Legumes
All legumes, beans, and lentils are great sources of protein for vegan and vegetarians. Indian dhal, kidney beans, black beans, chickpea hummus and split pea soup are all good options. Their protein content isn’t exactly the same. Beans are common protein-rich foods for vegan.
- Tofu and Other Soy Products
The flavor of soy is similar to the way a chameleon behaves, which is why it is hard to get bored with this versatile protein ingredient. Many brands of soy products such as tofu, soy ice cream, edamame, soy nuts, soy yogurt, soy cheese, TVP and tempeh are all popular protein-rich sources for vegans. They are fortified with calcium, vitamin B12 and iron; essential nutrients for vegans and vegetarians.
With a cup of tofu, you will get 10 grams of protein while a cup of soy milk has 7 grams. You can incorporate little quantity of tofu to almost anything you cook such as soups, salads, pasta sauces, and tofu stir-fries.
- Quinoa and Other Whole Grains
Quinoa, along with other whole grains, is very nutritious. NASA even suggested that quinoa should be grown on interplanetary space flights. It is full of iron, manganese, and magnesium and fiber. It is so versatile that you can make cookies, fritters, breakfast casseroles and muffins from it.
Whole grains are also a wonderful source of protein. Quinoa serves as a protein powerhouse and it has all essential amino acids. A cup of cooked quinoa has 9 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. Barley, brown rice and grain bread all healthy protein sources for vegans and vegetarians. An added advantage is the fact that whole grains are usually cheap.
- Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butters
Nuts; walnuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts, all contain protein. It is also the same for sunflower, chia seeds, and flaxseeds and sesame seeds. Most of the seeds and nuts are high in fat, so they shouldn’t be made your primary protein source.
Seeds, nuts and nut butter are good for occasional snacks and a post-workout snack. Try cashew nuts and soy nut butter in case you want to try something else other than peanut butter. You will get 8 grams of protein from two tablespoons of peanut butter.
- Protein-Rich Vegetables & Fruits
There is protein in all fruits and vegetables but in small amounts. However, some fruits and vegetables contain more protein than others. Vegetables with a good amount of protein include Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and artichokes.
A cup of any of them contains about 4–5 grams of protein. Generally, fresh fruits have smaller content of protein than vegetables. Some of them include guava, bananas, nectarines, blackberries, mulberries, and cherimoyas, and a cup of them each contains 2–4 grams of protein.
You can also make protein smoothies from these fruits and veggies. They are easy to prepare and food before/after work drink for muscle recovery.
How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
USDA Dietary Guidelines recommends 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men, which all depends on their daily consumption of calories, level of activity, illness, age, pregnancy, and some other factors.
An average 2,000 calorie diet gives you about 50 grams of protein and 20 grams of this comes from your breakfast; one cup of whole-milk Greek yogurt. Already, this is almost halfway to the daily recommended protein requirement.
So, eating a well-balanced diet already guarantees a good amount or more of the amount of protein you need per day without a sweat. The recommended serving sizes determined by the FDA and the USDA aren’t really the way everyone eats in real-time. This is why it is advisable that you eat the amount of food that you personally feel you need to fuel you.