There may be a lot of protein in meat, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anywhere else. In fact, vegans simply do what cows, pigs, sheep and chickens do; we go to the source – plants.
Legumes (beans, peanuts, peas, lentils and soy), seitan, and quinoa are the best sources of protein, and you’ll also find it in grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, bulgar); nuts (brazil, peanut, cashew, almond, pistachio and walnut); and to a lesser extent, green vegetables (kale, sweet corn, artichoke, and brussels sprouts).
While protein is an essential macronutrient, protein deficiency is not a concern for most of the UK population. That said, it’s important to be aware of what plant based foods are protein-rich, and try to include some in all your meals and to eat a variety of plant-based proteins.
There are 20 amino acids which make up protein and our body is able to make most of these itself. However, there are 9 aminos which we need to get from food, and these are known as essential amino acids.
While plant-based foods on their own will have most of these, there are 2 essential amino acids that some foods are lower in than others – lysine and methionine. Typically, cereals such as rice and wheat are lower in lysine, and legumes like beans, pulses & peas are lower in methionine. By ensuring you’re eating a balanced diet that includes both methionine-containing cereals and lysine-containing legumes, you’ll be getting all of the essential aminos .
Here are a few good high-protein meal ideas:
Peanut Butter Sandwich
We’ve gathered together many fantastic recipes full of protein, and we think the only challenge you’ll have is finding the time to make them all!
It is worth noting that it is high-calorie and high-protein foods that give you that ‘full’ feeling. Simply removing animal products from a standard diet could leave you with mostly low-calorie foods such as salads, vegetables, and fruit. Eating only these foods could quickly leave you feeling hungry and weak. Some people make this mistake and then feel that being vegan is a challenge.
Many animal products are high in fat – some have over 50% of calories come from fat. Removing these can drastically reduce your fat intake (especially saturated fat), which can be hugely beneficial, especially if you have high cholesterol . Make sure, however, that you are getting adequate plant fats in your diet – these are the good fats and essential for health. Sources of plant fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives.
This Nutrition page has been fact checked by the Spoon Guru Nutrition Team