The vegan diet is becoming increasingly popular, but many people wonder if it contains enough protein. Vegetarians usually eat dairy products and some vegetarians eat eggs, but vegans do not consume any animal protein. Fortunately there are several good vegan protein sources.
Facts About Protein
Protein is made of 22 amino acids, and the body can make some of these itself. There are nine amino acids that the body cannot make on its own and these must come from food. These are called essential amino acids. Meat eaters get these nine amino acids easily from meat and other animal products, but vegans need to make sure that their diet contains all the necessary amino acids. The best way to do this is to eat a wide variety of protein sources. Some vegans also take supplements such as vegan protein powder.
The Best Vegan Protein Sources
Pulses, such as different types of lentils, beans and peas, are good protein sources for vegans and vegetarians. They are affordable and they are also nutritious and low in fat. Kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed beans and other bean varieties, green and red lentils, chickpeas and even normal garden peas can be used daily in a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Quinoa is a grain that is popular with vegans because it contains all of the 22 amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. 100 grams of cooked quinoa contains almost 4 grams of protein. Quinoa is more nutritious than pasta or rice, and can be used in many different vegan or vegetarian foods.
Soy products, such as tofu and soy milk, are healthy protein sources and can provide variety in your diet. Tofu is low in fat and can be added to many different dishes from stir-fries to salads and even desserts.
Nuts and seeds are great protein-rich snacks. Linseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are sources of many vitamins, minerals and protein, and they are a good source of energy. Nuts such as cashews, almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts can be eaten raw or made into nut butters.
Many vegetables, including broccoli, kale, spinach and cauliflower, contain protein too. The vegan diet can be one of the healthiest diets if you make sure you get all the essential nutrients. A healthy diet contains a variety of vegan protein sources such as vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, seeds and soy products.