Welcome to the protein lowdown… everything you need to know about getting protein as a vegan (it’s actually really easy).
There may be a lot of protein in meat, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anywhere else. It does! And vegans simply do what elephants, bison and rhinos do; we go straight to the source – plants.
Legumes (beans, peanuts, peas, lentils and soya), 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, bulgur); 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 contain 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
And what about fats?
Many animal products are really high in fat. Removing these can drastically reduce your fat intake (especially saturated fat), which can be hugely beneficial for health, 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.
PAGE UPDATED MAY 2020