As a dancer and sports lover protein intake is very important for me. When I’ve decided to change my diet to vegan, my parents panicked a bit. They had questions right away. ”What you’re gonna eat now?” or ”Where you’ll get your protein?” It took me some time to make them understand that I’ll still eat a lot and care about mu nutrients. I’ve decided to make a list with high protein foods for vegans to educate them and make sure I remember to control my nutrition.
What is Protein? And why do we need it so bad?
It’s an essential nutrient for our body. They serve us as a fuel. They’re also parts that build our body tissue. I’m not gonna bore you with the chemistry. If you imagine that our body is a car, protein would be the fuel. Without it the car won’t go anywhere so do we.
We need proteins for the proper growth and maintenance of our body. You can find this nutrient in all the human cells. It’s also a major structural component for these cells, especially muscle.
WHOLE GRAINS & CEREALS
Oats have plenty different use is foods. Most often we get them rolled, crushed into oats or ground into oat flour. My personal favourite use of oats would be in porridge, breakfast pancakes or breakfast smoothie. You can read more about these recipes here. Oats are also included in many baked goods like oat cakes, cookies or bread. We can also find them in our favourite cereals such as muesli or granola. I use it very often in a form of milk.
Don’t be mistaken by the name. Buckwheat is not actually related to wheat. I’d contains no gluten which might be happy news for a lot of you. We can use it to make noodles, pancakes, porridge or simply boil it and eat with any kind of stew or sauce. This food is incredibly rich in nutrients. 100 gram contains protein, fiber, dietary minerals, four B vitamins, magnesium and others. Buckwheat is made 72% of carbohydrates, 13% protein, 10% dietary fiber and 3% fat.
Rye is known as a grain. Most common form we can eat it would be bread, flour, crisp bread, beer, some whiskeys, vodkas and animal fodder. We can also eat them boiled or rolled. Rye contains gluten.
- long – grain – it stays intact after cooking.
- medium – grain – it becomes more sticky after cooking. Used for risottos, sweet dishes and rice dishes as well as sushi.
- short – grain – it becomes very sticky after cooking. Usually used for puddings.
- Instant rice is very different that parboiled rice as it’s cooked and the dried. That takes away most of the taste and texture.
Not the most popular of cereals but also another great source of protein. Raw is 73% carbohydrates, 11% protein, 9% water and 4% fat. It’s mostly used in Indian cuisine for all kinds of flat breads. They also use it as a flower. In other countries like Russia, Germany and China they made a millet porridge their traditional food so they took more sweet approach to it. It is also a main ingredient for Vietnamese snacks.
Wheat always starts debates. Some people say it’s not good for you and others say the opposite. Wheat indeed is the leading source of vegetable protein although, containing around 13% which is quite high compare to other major cereals. Unfortunately the quality of wheat’s protein is really poor with supplying essential amino acids. A lot of people try to stay away from it as it contains gluten (75-80% of wheat’s protein). It’s an important source of carbohydrates. You can find it in most of the common products like for example: bread, cookies, pasta, pastries, pizza, beer ad many more. Seitan became a very popular food made from wheat and gluten.
Maize and corn are basically the same thing. It’s one of the main ingredients in Mexican food. Tortillas, tacos, quesadillas, all the delicious foods we know from there include maize. Another thing are our beloved breakfast cereals – corn flakes. It only included 3% of protein but it’s always something. Nutritional capacity of maize is also very good for us. Can also be used as a flour.
This want to be your go to. Quinoa was named one of the superfoods. I’ve explained more about it here. It’s filled with fibre, much more than most of the other grains. Quinoa is also considered a complete protein for containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s gluten free and a great source of very important minerals like magnesium and iron. Basically the best go to for Vegans and Vegetarians.
Before I became vegan, I’ve never heard of the word legumes. After researching I’ve realised that I missed out on may important and nutritious foods. I got to know them and make them my best friends. The list is long but I’ll focus on the most important ones.
Soy / Soybean / Soya bean
Soy is one of the few plant based product which is considered a complete protein. It has the best proportion of all nine amino acids necessary for the human diet. You can use it in your meals as beans but it can also be prepare in many other ways for example:
- tempeh – around 15g of protein per 1/2 cup
- firm tofu (soybeans curds) – around 10g of protein per 1/2 cup
- edamame beans (immature soybeans) – around 8.5g of protein per 1/2 cup
Tofu can be your magic solution when transitioning from meat to vegan. Very often tofu is used to cook meat substitutes as well as scrambled eggs. Smoked tofu can sometimes remind of a smell of bacon. Season it properly and you’ll get a fantastic addition to any meal.
We also have other products with are well know for containing soy – soy milk, yoghurts or creams.
My favourite method of preparation for lentils is boiling but you can also soak, germinate, fry or bake them. Lentil dishes are most popular in South and West Asia as well as the Mediterranean regions. Raw lentils contain as much as 25% of protein. When boiled the amount goes down to 9% but that’s still a lot. Right after soybeans lentils are number 2 when it comes to legumes source of protein. Red or green lentils would be your best choice for their rich nutrient capacity.
Who doesn’t love hummus, am I right? One of my favourite snacks have to involve this magic paste made from chickpeas. This product is the most popular in the Indian cuisine and they’re responsible for around 67% of the world’s production. In 100 grams of cooked chickpeas we’ll have 60% water, 27% carbohydrates, 9% protein and 3% fat. Cooking it doesn’t really change the protein amount.
We would usually all the above here but I wanted to give them more attention. More beans that will be beneficial with protein are:
- Kidney Beans – most commonly eaten with rice.
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans – eaten as a whole, mashed or fried.
- Navy Beans
- Peanuts – peanut butter is also a good protein source.
All the above are fantastic source of protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins and many other vitamins and minerals. They can help you reduce your blood sugar and improve cholesterol. I’m giving a big YES to Beans and all legumes. It might be your best source to a healthier life, possibly without meat as well.
NUTS & SEEDS
I’m not gonna talk about all kinds of nuts but I’d like to highlight one who should become everyone’s best friend for it incredible nutritional value to a human body.
These bad boys have an incredibly high amount of protein – 21%! On top of that they’re rich with vitamin E which can be great for sin and eyes. Obviously we don’t want to over do it and it too much. Good daily intake would be around 8 almonds.
Tropical nut, produced mostly in Asia also very beneficial to our body includes 18% of protein.
One of the nuts my grandparents had in their garden. Tasting a fresh walnut was something magical. It also has a high content of protein – 15%.
One of the best protein sources within seeds. Dried and roasted pumpkin seeds have 30% of protein in themselves.
My favourite addition to most of my smoothies. It is also concerned as a valuable protein source. Drained chia seeds contains 16% of protein.
Some green vegetables are also mentioned as high protein foods for vegans. The ones I’d recommend the most for the highest intake would be:
- Swiss Chard
So where do you get your protein?
I think from now on this question will be extremely easy for you to answer. I’m fascinated how all of these products are not only high protein food for vegans but also highly nutritious for every human being. If we would do more research like this we could probably cure ourselves much easier and quicker. I believe the base for our health is what we eat. We put things in our body and then it reacts to it. If we live in mutual understanding of each other needs then everything will work properly. I think it’s also important to mention that the best option is to use this beautiful variety of proteins we have. They all have different amount of amino acids that’s why we want to make sure we deliver all different kinds to live long and happy life.