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Important Sources of Protein for Vegans

Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem

3 min read

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Whether you have gone vegan for health reasons or in protest to animal abuse, you might be missing out on some key nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, riboflavin, and protein. Out of these, the concerns regarding protein deficiency are the most pronounced. The daily recommended intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Protein is found naturally in animal products like dairy, poultry, eggs, red meat, and fish. Fortunately, you can avoid protein deficiency on a vegan diet by consuming plant-based sources of protein. Proteins are made up of 20 kinds of amino acids, 9 of which your body can’t synthesize on its own. These are known as essential amino acids and animal products contain all 9 of them. That is why they are considered complete protein sources. Vegans need to combine plant-based foods properly to make a complete protein in a meal. Here are some plant foods rich in protein:

1- Quinoa:

Even though quinoa is said to be a high-protein grain, half a cup of cooked quinoa only has 4 grams of protein. However, quinoa has made it to the list of complete proteins which are not meat. Quinoa is usually eaten in place of rice, as it has double the protein. Quinoa is also gluten-free. It is great for salads as well.

2- Lentils:

Lentils are a great alternative to red meat. A cup of lentils provides 18 grams of protein and fulfills 37 percent of your daily requirement of iron. It also has 16 grams of fiber which can keep your appetite in check and prevent you from overeating.

3- Farro:

Farro has more protein than most grains. Half a cup of cooked farro has 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber as well. It is also a good source of iron, a mineral many of us are deficient in. Farro can be eaten the same way other cooked grains are: as a base for cooked vegetables, an addition to soup, or topped with almond milk and berries for breakfast.

4- Edamame:

Edamame is a great source of fiber and protein. A cup of edamame has 9 grams of fiber. It has all nine essential amino acids and so it is considered a complete protein. It is one of the better plant foods rich in protein.

5- Peanuts:

A handful of peanuts contain 10 grams of protein. Peanuts are not only great for snacking, but can also be sprinkled atop a salad or stir-fry, or into yogurt. Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E and linoleic acid.

6- Beans:

Chickpeas, black beans, and pinto beans have similar nutritional profiles and are all great vegan sources of protein. Half a cup of beans provides nearly 8 grams of protein. Beans are incredibly versatile and can be added to curries, salads, stews, and chilis. You can also puree them to use as a healthy sandwich spread.

7- Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, sold commercially as a yellow powder or flakes.

It has a cheesy flavor, which makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like mashed potatoes and scrambled tofu.

Nutritional yeast can also be sprinkled on top of pasta dishes or even enjoyed as a savory topping on popcorn.

This complete source of plant protein provides the body with 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams).

Fortified nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and all the B vitamins, including B12.

However, fortification is not universal and unfortified nutritional yeast should not be relied on as a source of vitamin B12.

8- Green Peas

The little green peas often served as a side dish contain 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), which is slightly more than a cup of milk.

What’s more, a serving of green peas covers more than 25% of your daily fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate and manganese requirements.

Green peas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and several other B vitamins.

You can use peas in recipes such as pea and basil stuffed ravioli, thai-inspired pea soup or pea and avocado guacamole.

9- Soy Milk

Milk that’s made from soybeans and fortified with vitamins and minerals is a great alternative to cow’s milk.

Not only does it contain 7 grams of protein per cup (240 ml), but it’s also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

However, keep in mind that soy milk and soybeans do not naturally contain vitamin B12, so picking a fortified variety is recommended.

Soy milk is found in most supermarkets. Like many plant foods rich in protein, it is an incredibly versatile product that can be consumed on its own or in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.

It is a good idea to opt for unsweetened varieties to keep the amount of added sugars to a minimum.

If you want to increase your protein intake, consult your dietitian. You can find and book an appointment with top dietitians in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem - Author Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem is a Nutritionist practicing in Lahore. Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem has the following degrees: BSc. (Home Economics), MSc. (Food And Nutrition), PGDD, M.Phil (Public Health) and has 5 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button.
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