Where Do Vegans Get their Protein?

By on June 23, 2014
Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein

One of the most common concerns about the vegan lifestyle involves making sure that vegans consume enough protein. However, whether a vegan is aiming to be a body builder, working towards the lean look that is typically associated with vegans, or just interested in maintaining a cruelty-free diet, plant foods can provide more than enough protein for anyone on a vegan diet.

How Much Protein is Necessary?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should aim for 10% to 35% of their daily calories to come from protein. The CDC also recommends that adult women consume at least 46 grams of protein daily and adult men consume 56 grams of protein per day. These numbers may seem low, but in truth, most Americans consume far more protein than they actually need. Keeping this in mind, meeting the daily protein requirements with plant foods should be simple.

Green Vegetables as a Protein Source
Eating a cup of cooked spinach will supply 7 grams of protein, while a cup of green beans contains 13 grams of protein. Vegans who love kale can obtain 5 grams of protein out of two cups of the cooked vegetable. Vegans consuming these foods are able to meet their daily protein needs while also benefiting from essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals that fight against disease, and fiber. Animal protein sources do not provide these extra benefits, which is one of the reasons that the these vegan protein sources far superior to animal sources of protein.

Obtaining Protein from Non-Dairy Milk
Vegans do not drink milk that requires the suffering of cows, but many vegans do consume both soy milk and almond milk. Drinking a cup of either of these types of milk will provide between 7-9 protein grams. While that is impressive by itself, a vegan truly wanting to get in a protein boost can combine their cup of non-dairy milk with a certified breakfast cereal or a vegan friendly protein powder. This type of power-packed breakfast is a great way to start the day for any vegan athlete.

Protein Found in Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are another staple of many vegan menus and often featured in rice dishes, casseroles, or vegan burger recipes. Not only are they delicious, they also provide essential fiber that helps maintain a regular digestive system and healthy heart. Since they take a while to digest, a dieter feels fuller longer after eating beans, and this can help lead to weight loss. In addition to all of these benefits, lentils and beans are high in protein. One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein, while a cup of cooked beans can deliver up to 15 grams of protein.

Tofu and Tempeh as Vegan Protein Providers
Vegans have a reputation as loving tofu, and with good reason! In addition to being a versatile food that can be incorporated in foods ranging from stir-fries to desserts, it is also a very affordable food that can be incorporated into the diets of vegans on a budget. Even better, there are approximately 9 grams of protein in four ounces of tofu. A single serving of 100 grams of tempeh will provide 18.2 grams of protein and can easily be incorporated into vegan chili. Unlike the animal products served in non-vegan chili, tempeh is a naturally cholesterol free food. A serving also provides ten percent of the RDA of calcium and iron.

Other Important Vegan Protein Sources
The heart-healthy benefits of nuts come with an additional benefit: one cup of almonds can provide 20 grams of protein. The protein amounts of other types of nuts can vary, but nuts and nut butters are excellent ways for vegans to meet their daily protein requirements. Quinoa, spouted-grain bread, and wheat products are additional sources of protein and deliver between 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving.

Although having an adequate amount of protein is essential to any healthy diet, concerns over vegan diets potentially lacking protein are misplaced. A vegan eating a well-rounded diet can easily obtain protein from plant sources, and they will be able to reap the benefits of the amazing vitamins and nutrients available only in plant foods.

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