Being vegan doesn’t mean having the same meal plan as a rabbit and it doesn’t mean you’ll have to get all your protein from soy, either.
Many soy-based products in the market contain unfermented soy, which is filled with “anti-nutrients” that mess up the way your body synthesizes vitamins and minerals. So consider the alternatives and look into these best protein sources for vegans that are 100% safe and healthy.
ALSO READ: Is Soy Bad For You Or Not?
Top 3 Best Protein Sources for Vegans
1. Legumes – Lentils and Beans
Lentils and beans are one of the best protein sources for vegans and non-vegans alike. They are low in fat and sodium and are commonly available and inexpensive. They are also rich in fiber and other good-for-you nutrients, including iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, and folate.
Varieties of beans include white, kidney, black, lima, garbanzo (chickpeas), pinto, adzuki, and navy. The average protein content of these 8 types is 15 grams per cup. You can drain and rinse canned beans to reduce sodium content, but it’s best to avoid the canned variety altogether.
Meanwhile, lentils contain 18 grams of protein per cup. These legumes lower cholesterol and prevent the sudden spike in blood sugar after meals. Varieties come in green and brown (which retain their shape when cooked), and black, red, orange, and yellow (which become soft and mushy when cooked). Cooking lentils in boiling water is the healthiest way to prepare them. Try brown lentils for an earthy lentil soup.
Dry roasted peanuts are protein-rich food that also belongs to the legume family.
2. Seeds – Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts when shelled) look similar to sesame seeds and have the highest protein content among all nutritious seeds. Protein content is roughly 36 grams per 100-gram serving, making this easily one of the best protein sources for vegans.
They also contain iron, zinc, calcium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin E, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They can be sprinkled onto ice cream, mixed into protein/granola bars, or pureed and added to smoothies and salad dressing. Hemp seeds are best bought hulled and refrigerated to avoid spoilage.
Other nutritious seeds rich in protein are chia, pumpkin, flax, and sunflower.
3. Grains – Seitan
Also called wheat meat, seitan is the major protein constituent in wheat and it has the same look and feel of animal meat. For every 100 grams of seitan, you get 25 grams of protein. It’s found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, but like with all other foods it is best to make your own from scratch to avoid preservatives, colorants and other yucky chemicals added in the production process.
However, you should first check if you have any gluten sensitivities to find out if you need “gluten-free gluten” to make your own. Seitan can be fried, grilled, or sautéed.
Other grains that are rich in protein are amaranth and quinoa (which are gluten-free), spelt, kamut, teff, boiled oatmeal, brown rice, and sorghum.
Furthermore, all fruits and vegetables also contain protein but in very minimal amounts, so you shouldn’t rely on them as your primary source. Still, it won’t hurt to include broccoli, spinach, cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon in your diet. Just make sure your meals have grains, legumes, and seeds as they are the best protein sources for vegans. What’s more, their versatility makes them ideal for a wide range of savory vegan recipes.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.