I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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When most people think about vegans, they think of a diet devoid of all animal products and, therefore, protein.
When I personally began the shift to a more plant-based and vegan way of eating, I was frequently questioned about where I got my protein. However, there are many ways to include plant-based proteins in a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Did you know that there are actually many plant-based sources of protein? In fact, many plant-based foods are quite high in this important macronutrient.
Yup, I’m talking about vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes – they all have varying amounts of good, quality protein. This is great news if you’re interested in incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet or trying to make the shift away from animal products!
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best plant-based protein sources and link to some of my delicious vegan recipes to help get you started. So, whether you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact, improve your health, or just experiment with new foods, read on for some inspiration!
Seitan is a complete protein made from mixing wheat gluten with different spices and flavors. Many vegans will use seitan to make savory sandwiches or even plant-based “bacon.” When cooked, seitan offers 21g of protein per 1/3 cup.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans and contain approximately 8.5g of protein per ½ cup serving. My husband loves to use edamame in his stir-fry for a protein-packed post-workout lunch!
Tofu is a form of soybean curds and contains about 10g of protein per ½ cup serving.
Many dark-colored and green-leafy vegetables contain protein. One good example is broccoli, which has about 4g of protein per single stalk.
Seeds are foods that are rich in fiber and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a complete source of protein that contains about 2g of protein per tablespoon.
Try adding chia seeds to a smoothie, sprinkling them on top of your morning oatmeal, or soaking them in almond milk to make a delicious chia pudding.
Peanuts are protein-rich and full of heart-healthy fats. They contain around 20.5g of protein per ½ cup. Peanut butter is also rich in protein, with 3.6 g per tablespoon.
Beans come in wide varieties, all offering good sources of quality protein. From black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, and pintos, you’re looking at between 7 and 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber and virtually no fat.
When cooked, lentils pack about 18g of protein per cup. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber, folate, manganese, and iron. Lentils are also highly versatile and can be added to soups, salads, bowls, and even tacos.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another bean with high protein content. They contain about 14.5g of protein per cup when cooked.
You’ll often see chickpeas used as the main ingredient in hummus. You can even find pasta noodles that utilize chickpeas to make more protein-rich pasta dishes.
Quinoa is a grain with high protein content containing all nine essential amino acids. Cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein per cup. It is also rich in other nutrients, including magnesium, iron, fiber, and manganese.
It is also highly versatile. Quinoa can fill in for pasta in soups and stews. It can be sprinkled on a salad or eaten as the main course.
Buckwheat is a type of seed that is very beneficial for the diet. While the amount of protein per serving is not as much as other vegan protein-source foods on this list, it is a complete protein- meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
Buckwheat contains approximately 6g of protein per 1 cup of cooked groats.
Soy milk is one of the many non-dairy milk options on the market today. It is also one of the highest in protein content. With one cup of soy milk, you’re looking at about 8g of protein.
Hemp seeds are tiny, brown seeds with a rich nutritional profile and high protein content. One serving of hemp seeds, about three tablespoons, contains about 10g of protein.
Hemp seeds can be used similarly to chia seeds in that they work great in smoothies, topped on yogurt or oatmeal, or in a homemade granola.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s most popular in powder form, and just one tablespoon of spirulina powder offers 4g of protein. I like to add spirulina to my morning smoothies for an extra boost of nutrients and vegan protein.
Tempeh is similar to tofu in that it’s made of soybeans. But, it is much chewier and nuttier and made from fermented soybeans, which are often combined with other seeds and grains to form a firm, dense cake. Just three ounces of tempeh contains about 11 grams of protein.
Raw almonds are another vegan protein food source containing approximately 6 grams per ounce. If you’re looking at using almond butter, you’ll get about 6.5 grams of protein per two-tablespoon serving.
A large baked potato offers 8 g of protein per serving. It is also high in other nutrients, such as potassium and vitamin C. I love adding potatoes to soups, bowls, and tacos.
Ezekiel bread is a nutrient-dense alternative to traditional bread. It is made from barley, wheat, lentils, millet, and spelt.
Ezekiel bread is an excellent choice for bread lovers who want a more nutritious way to eat toast or sandwiches.
Ezekiel bread offers 4 g of protein per slice. Get even more protein by toasting Ezekiel bread and spreading it with peanut or almond butter.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold as nutty, yellow flakes. It’s an essential for plant-based eaters or those looking to make vegan mac n cheese or cheesy scallop potatoes. Two tablespoons contain about 8 grams of protein.
Green peas are another vegetable that’s relatively high in protein. Just a cup serving of green peas provides about 8 grams of protein.
Oatmeal is an excellent protein-packed breakfast to keep you fueled all morning long. Just one cup of oats contains about 26 grams of protein.
There are now quite a few vegan and plant-based protein powders on the market. Depending upon the plants used to make the powders, they may be complete or incomplete proteins.
The position of the American Dietetic Association is that while food supplements can help people meet their daily goals, eating a wide variety of foods rich in protein is a better strategy for meeting nutritional needs.
Some protein supplements may also be high in sugar or sodium to improve the taste, so it is important to read the nutrition labels.
If you’re looking for a good plant-based protein powder to supplement your diet, my personal favorite is Four Sigmatic’s Plant-Based Protein with Superfoods Repair. I purchase the unflavored kind so I can easily add it to smoothies without altering the taste. One serving is 18 grams of protein.
Meeting your daily protein needs is essential, no matter what diet you follow. Luckily, there are plenty of plant-based sources of protein to choose from if you’re trying to go vegan or plant-based.
By incorporating some of these into your meals, you can ensure you’re meeting your needs and enjoying delicious, healthy food at the same time.
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