Recipes

The Question Of Protein For Vegans (And How You Get Enough)

06/04/2021

Vegetarian and vegan restaurants are becoming a regular feature of our cities; vegan and plant-based food products are increasingly popular; over a million Brits are vegan (and many more follow a meat and dairy free diet most of the time). Skeptics argue that a vegan diet lacks of protein, but it isn’t true. If you do it right, vegan meals can provide you with all the nutrients you need.

Vegan salad bowl

Vegan salad bowl [photo by Anna Pelzer]

Veganism is well on the rise and if you have spent enough time here, then you have seen that I’ve published plenty of posts on vegan recipes to help you enjoy delicious foods while following your lifestyle as best as possible. While I eat fish and meat, I follow a mostly vegetarian diet at home to suit my husband’s dietary requirements. Here in Wroclaw, where I live, we have many fantastic vegan restaurants and their food is always nutritious and delicious. You don’t have to compromise on taste when going vegan, that’s for sure!

Hummus at Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, Israel

Most of Israeli cuisine is vegan and Tel Aviv is considered a world’s capital for veganism.

However, there is one question that gets asked of vegans a lot (possibly to an annoying degree) and that is: what do you do about protein? I know I ask myself this question all the time as I plan our family meals.

Many vegans reading might already be doing plenty to make sure that they get enough complete proteins, but if you are new to this then let’s look over some of the ways you can make sure you’re getting what you need.

Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein

Easy ways for vegans to get enough protein every day

Add vegan sources of protein to your diet

The first thing to recognize is that there are plenty of vegan sources of protein that you can easily add to your diet. Protein is, indeed, one of those nutritional needs that tend to be much more common in a specific few foods, as opposed to being more widely available in the average diet.

vegan Tarte Tatin with figs, buckwheat flour, almonds, flaxseed, coconut butter, almond milk

Vegan fig and buckwheat tarte tatin from Farmacy Kitchen in London

However, the vegan sources of protein that are out there also tend to be extremely versatile. Soybeans are a whole source of protein, which is important (we’ll cover this later), and also come in many edible forms, including soy milk, tofu, and edamame as an example. Lentils, chickpeas, and other beans also tend to be protein-rich and can be included in all sorts of meals.

Butternut Squash and Coconut Red Lentil Dal | Mondomulia

Vegan lentil dal with butternut squash and coconut milk

What about protein shakes?

If you’re looking to build muscle as part of a strength training regime, then you might recognize that you need more protein than you’re likely to be able to eat in a single day. To that end, protein shakes have become invaluable. However, it’s hard finding those that don’t use animal products.

This is where vegan replacements come in. Look at some of the pros and cons of rice protein. This can help you replace traditional protein shakes, but it does come with a few additional demands. While they can be great for upping your protein, they don’t contain all of the amino acids that are required to process them fully.

meal prep for breakfast and lunch

Vegan meal prep ideas for breakfast and lunch

What makes proteins complete?

One of the reasons that people can be skeptical about the idea of vegan proteins, with some legitimacy to their concerns, is the concept of complete and incomplete proteins. Simply put, protein isn’t enough. To be a “complete” protein, you also need nine amino acids, many of which are either missing or simply not available enough in many vegan sources of protein. Soybeans are complete proteins, but many legumes that are commonly used are not.

However, to that end, you simply need to find plant sources of amino acids, and there are plenty of those, as well. Quinoa, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are good examples of amino acid replete foods that you can easily add to your diet. Try quinoa in this delicious summer superfood salad recipe by Jamie Oliver!

Jamie Oliver summer superfood quinoa salad

Superfood quinoa salad

To put it simply, vegans shouldn’t have any trouble getting the protein they need. It might take a little extra work, but you can have a complete and balanced diet with all your macros as a vegan.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.

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