Nowadays, with the introduction of environmental and ethical awareness, many people are considering the idea of going vegan. The idea of sustainability in life has become quite compelling and many people have started replacing animal products with other alternatives which can serve the purpose by meeting all the requirements. So, you might be thinking about the food items that can best serve the purpose of a protein-rich vegetarian diet to carry out the replacement. Getting an in-depth knowledge about protein sources in a vegan diet is a very important factor while following it. Read on to know more about the significance of protein-rich foods in a vegan diet and their role in various healthy recipes.
Why Is Protein Important To Us ?
Protein is the building block of our body as they help in providing strength to our bones. Proteins enhance all the cellular reactions by actively participating in them and are associated with the growth as well as the development of the body as a whole. They help in the production of new tissues as well as in repairing the older ones. It is an energy-giving fuel and is a major nutrient responsible for curbing hunger. It helps in fighting off infections by producing antibodies in our body and is thus present in blood as well as skin. Proteins help in building muscles and help our bodies to stay healthy and are an essential component of hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals present in our cells. Choosing good quality protein-rich products is thus an important factor!
Vegan High Protein Food Sources
1. Soya Chunks
Soy flour is defatted and is made into soy chunks after the extraction of soybean oil. Soy chunks have a high protein content and have the potential to compensate for the protein in eggs, meat and milk combined altogether. These are extensively consumed for building muscles and losing weight as they are enriched with a large amount of calcium content. It enhances bone health and eases digestion. However, excess consumption can increase the estrogen level in the body.
Macro-nutritional profile: Uncooked soya chunk: 52 gm protein, 33 gm carb, 0.5 gm fat per 100 gm serving. Soya chunks can be purchased online as well as from various stores.
Soybeans are legumes containing large amounts of antioxidants and a high nutritional profile. It is one of the most excellent protein-rich sources of all time and is particularly used for making other fermented soy foods. Soybean is beneficial in reducing the risk of various heart and cardiovascular diseases and is associated with high fiber content.
Macro-nutritional profile: 16.6 gm protein, 9.9 gm carb, 9 gm fat per 100gm serving. Soybean can be bought in various packs online as well as from stores.
Also called bean curd or soy paneer, tofu is an excellent protein source in a vegan diet. Tofu is a good alternative for non-vegetarians switching to a vegan lifestyle because of its ‘meaty’ texture. Tofu consists of solid white blocks which are made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resultant curd into the desired blocks.
Macro-nutritional profile: 16 gm protein, 2 gm carb, 5 gm fat per 100 gm. Tofu can be purchased online in the organic foods section.
Tempeh is made by culturing and fermenting soybeans. Soybeans are an entire package of protein sources since they provide all the essential amino acids required by the body. A fungus named Rhizopus acts as the tempeh starter and aids in fermentation.
Macro-nutritional profile: 19 gm protein, 9 gm carb, 6 gm fat per 100 gm. Tempeh can be purchased online in the organic foods section.
Edamame is associated with a package of immature soybeans which are boiled with their pods. It is a rich source of plant proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
These soy products are also enriched with a good amount of calcium and iron.
Macro-nutritional profile: 11 gm protein,10 gm carb, 2.5 gm fat per 100 gm. Edamame beans are not available online currently. You can try out Edamame pasta as a tasty alternative.
Lentils are popularly known as dal in India and they vary in colour and size. They are a good source of food in a vegetarian protein diet as they also contain fibers, quality antioxidants, and minerals which help healthy bacteria to thrive in the gut thereby aiding in cell repair. Consumption of lentils regularly can lead to a high protein diet as they are pulse grains that are included in the legume family. They are also enriched with the ability to reduce the risk of cancer and other heart diseases.
Macro-nutritional profile: Lentils:
Green lentil or moong dal: 24 gm protein, 19 grams of carb, 1 gram of fat per 100 gm.
Red lentil or Masoor dal: 24 gm protein, 56.3 gm carb, 1.3 gm fat per 100 gm.
Black lentil or Urad dal: 24.6 gm protein, 60 gm carb, 1.5 gm fat per 100 gm.
Pigeon pea or Toor/Arhar dal: 22 gm protein, 63 gm carb, 1.5 gm fat per 100 gm.
Cowpea or lobia: 8 gm protein, 21 gm carbs, 5 gm fat per 100 gm.
Varieties of beans like chickpeas, pinto beans, and kidney beans fall under the category of legumes. They have a high protein value concerning the nutritional profile and are considered as a powerhouse of protein. Chickpeas are versatile with their nutty flavour and can be included in a variety of dishes as well as salads. Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a delight to eat when they are roasted and can be added to soups as well. Consuming chickpeas helps in maintaining blood pressure, decreasing cholesterol levels, and reducing fat.
Mung beans, being a good source of protein, are also rich in iron and fiber. They play a major role in protecting against problems like cholesterol and blood pressure hikes. They are good for losing weight and enhancing digestive health.
Kidney-shaped and red-coloured kidney beans have a creamy texture and are known as excellent plant-based protein sources. They are associated with the promotion of colon health as well as the moderation of blood sugar levels.
Macro-nutritional profile: Chickpeas: 19 gm protein, 62.9 gm carb, 6 gm fat per 100 grams.
Mung beans: 24 gm protein, 63 gm carb, 1.2 gm fat per 100 gm.
8. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts play an active role in serving as good protein sources in a vegan diet. Cashew nuts, almonds, and peanuts are highly rich in proteins.
Almonds are seeds having a layer of antioxidants on their brown skin and thus, they should be eaten along with it. They protect the body from cancers and heart diseases. They are good for the skin and eyes due to their ability to enhance vitamin E concentration in our body.
Peanuts are also protein-rich healthy fat-giving nuts. They help in increasing heart health and are used to make peanut butter which serves as a complete package of protein-rich snacks.
Cashews are proteinaceous seeds enriched with copper. The seeds support immunity by providing a lot of vitamins and minerals along with protein.
Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds contain various nutrients and minerals like iron, folate, calcium and carotene. They can be consumed raw or roasted or salted with pepper.
Macro-nutritional profile: 20 gm protein, 21 gm carb, 54 gm fat per cup (100g).Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Sesame seeds and flax seeds can be purchased online as well as from nearby stores.
9. Spelt and Teff
Both spelt and teff are known as ancient grains along with barley, sorghum and farro. They are associated with edible seeds and are thus cultivated for them.
Also called hulled wheat or dinkel wheat, Spelt is a distinct species of wheat and is a good source of protein in a vegan diet. Spelt is high in gluten and is enriched with calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, complex carbs, fibers and vitamins like B1, B6 and E.
Teff grain, also called Eragrostis teff, is an excellent source of protein thereby enhancing the amino acid intake of our body. These grains have seeds containing magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, and other vitamins.
Macro-nutritional profile: Spelt: 15 gm protein, 70 gm carb, 2.4 gm fat per cup (100g).
10. Green peas
Containing vitamins A, C and K, green peas are enriched with iron, manganese, folate, magnesium, copper and a very high quantity of fiber, making them a healthy food vegan diet. Green peas can also be added to soups and other dishes as a protein-rich supplement.
Macro-nutritional profile: 5 gm protein, 14 gm carb, 0.4 gm fat per 100 grams. Green peas are easily available in grocery stores and can be purchased online as well.
11. Quinoa and Amaranth
These grains are exclusively free of gluten and are known as pseudocereals because they are seeds that are eaten as grains. Cereals grow from grasses but these grains don’t.
Quinoa has a high protein content compared to most plant foods. Being a complete protein and a whole grain, it consists of all the 9 essential amino acids required by the body. It is enriched with iron, magnesium and other minerals, and results in high-carb food diets. It can be eaten in salads as well as added in soup and pasta.
Amaranth also constitutes one of the richest plant-based protein foods. It is a grain rich in various amino acids including lysine which is particularly not found in most of the cereal grains. Amaranth grains are pearl-shaped and are highly nutritious in carbs.
Macro-nutritional profile: Quinoa: 4.4 gm protein, 21.3 gm carbs, 1.9 gm fat per cup(100g).
12. Soy milk
For lactose-intolerant people, soy milk is a good alternative to normal milk as it is free of lactose. It is low in saturated fat and is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamins B12 and D. It does not contain cholesterol and can either be added to tea or coffee or can be directly taken. It is a versatile product and it is better to consume the unsweetened variety to avoid weight gain.
Macro-nutritional profile: soy milk: 8 gm protein, 8.3 gm carb, 4 gm of fat per cup(243 grams). Soy milk can be purchased online and can be bought from stores.
Oats are delicious high-quality protein foods containing large amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other vitamins. They lower the cholesterol level and help in reducing the risk of heart problems. They can be included in oatmeals or simply consumed with milk, honey and almonds.
Macro-nutritional profile: Oats: 16.9 gm protein, 67.7 gm carb, 6.5 gm fat per 100 gm. Oats can be purchased online and from nearby stores as well.
14. Brown Rice
Brown Rice makes good protein-rich vegan diets and contains vitamin B and antioxidants. It helps in lowering the cholesterol level along with the provision of plenty of vitamins and minerals. It helps in weight loss and the regulation of blood sugar levels. Brown rice contains more nutrients compared to white rice. Brown rice tends to enhance the functioning of the liver, heart and kidney.
Macro-nutritional profile: 2.6 gm protein, 24 gm carb, 1.8 gm fat per 100 gm. Brown Rice can be purchased online and from nearby stores.