Since more and more people are turning toward a vegan diet, you can’t help wondering, how do vegans get protein. We all know that most people fuel their bodies with adequate levels of protein by eating meats. But, since vegans don’t eat meat, they have to find a different source for quality protein. The good news is that it’s not hard for vegans to find a substitute for animal-based proteins.
Before we start, it’s important to note that vegans, and everyone else, should consume a balanced diet that consists of a wide variety of food. A balanced diet consists of three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and protein. These are the three nutrients that your body needs large amounts of in order to remain healthy. Depending on your health and/or fitness goals, the amounts of each macronutrient you consume will vary.
If you’re not vegan and you want to become one, this article is written with you in mind. In it, we’re going to take a look at what protein actually is and answer that ‘how do vegans get protein’ question and a few other common vegan questions.
What Is Protein?
Protein represents an essential part of every person’s nutrition. It makes up about 17% of your body’s weight because it’s the main component of the internal organs, skin, and muscles; such as the brain, heart, nails, hair, and eyes. Every human’s immune system needs protein to produce antibodies needed to fight infections. It also plays a role in your energy function, fat metabolism, and blood sugar regulation.
Protein-based foods break down into twenty-two naturally existing amino acids which are referred to as the construction blocks of protein. However, they’re also an excellent source of various minerals and vitamins like B vitamins and zinc.
The best way to get the proper amount of protein and amino acids is by combining all different types of foods such as pulses and vegetables, like broccoli and tofu. Or rice and beans. Variety is the best way to get the right amount of protein and other nutrients with a vegan diet.
Can I Consume Too Much Protein?
According to some researchers and evidence, yes, you can consume too much protein. It might affect you negatively, but it usually happens to people who consume diets rich in animal proteins, such as processed foods, red meats and dairy. Too much protein contributes to kidney damage and bone loss, according to some studies. However, there is little evidence of this, according to other studies.
Can Athlete’s Be Vegan?
Yes, athletes can be vegan. In fact, an increasing number of professional athletes are adopting a vegan lifestyle. Studies are showing that there are many added benefits of plant-based proteins when compared to animal-based proteins such as whey. Plant-based proteins are known to be much easier to digest and much less likely to cause allergies. Additionally, there is virtually no difference between the muscle-building ability of a plant-based protein like pea protein powder and whey protein.
It is very important that athletes ensure they receive adequate protein, carbs, omega-3-fatty acids and other crucial nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.
So, How Do Vegans Get Protein?
While protein is commonly associated with animal and animal-based products like whey, there are a variety of other foods that contain protein but aren’t animal-based. Primary this is where you’ll find the answer to the question ‘how do vegans get protein?’
There’s actually a lot of food that is rich in protein and safe for vegans. If you don’t believe me, just take a good look at these vegan protein sources:
Vegetables – Many veggies are rich in protein. I mean, did you know that just 1 cup of cooked spinach contains even 7 grams of protein? While French beans contain 13 grams and 2 cups of cooked kale off 5 grams. And just one cup of boiled peas contains 9 grams of protein. If you’re asking how do vegans get protein, then you definitely have to start with vegetables – they’re loaded with protein!
Non-Dairy Milk – Obviously, vegans don’t drink dairy milk since it comes from cows. But you may not know that there are many different vegan-friendly milks out there. Did you know that 1 cup of almond or soy milk contains between 7 and 9 grams of protein? Combine one of these milks with a high-protein cereal and you’re really off to the races!
Tofu – Just 4 ounces of tofu has roughly 9 grams of protein. Just combine tofu with broccoli and have yourself a protein-packed lunch.
Nut Butter – Cashew butter, almond butter, and peanut butter make an excellent source of protein. Just a few tablespoons of your favorite nut butter will provide you with 8 grams of protein.
Quinoa – Delicious and versatile, quinoa is one of the top vegan protein sources offering 9 grams of protein per cup.
Chia Protein – Did you know that only 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains around 2 grams of protein? You can use chia seeds in salads, soups, healthy desserts, or breakfasts. They’re the perfect substitute for eggs while baking. They’re hydrophilic and expand in water in just minutes.
Hemp Protein – Hemp is widely regarded as one of the healthiest foods in the history of humankind. Simply tossing around 30 grams of hemp protein powder into your breakfast or smoothie will add about 15 grams of protein.
Beans and Tempeh – These are magical fruits that offer between 13 and 15 grams of protein per 1 cup of black beans, kidney beans or pinto. While 1 cup of tempeh offers over 30 grams of protein. Yea, you read that right!
The Benefits of Going Vegan
Hopefully, we were able to answer your question; ‘how do vegans get protein?’ But keep in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive list of all vegan protein sources. There are countless foods and supplements which offer large amounts of protein and are vegan friendly.
If you’re considering going vegan, then know that choosing to go vegan won’t harm your body or cause your body and/or muscle to deteriorate (and yes, people really think this happens). In fact, most people that go vegan end up feeling much healthier than they were.
Plus, you will help animals that are literally for their lives. If that’s not enough to motivate you to go vegan, we don’t know what is.