How Do Vegans Get Protein A Guide To Plant
July 7, 2019 By Nava Atlas
How do vegans get protein? Plant-based protein sources are abundant, and well explore them here, from whole foods like grains and legumes, to todays wide array of vegan meat substitutes.
Chances are, if youve gone vegan and report the news to a non-vegan youll be asked, How do you get your protein? Its a question that just wont go away theres still so much bewilderment over this question about plant-based protein sources.
Longtime vegans might roll their eyes at having to endlessly explain and justify their protein sources. But the myth that its hard to get adequate protein on a vegan diet is tenacious. Theres plenty of evidence, as we know, that a varied whole foods diet has little chance of falling short in protein, especially if it provides sufficient calories
Many foods have at least some protein. Whole grains, legumes, soy foods, nuts, and seeds all offer high-quality protein. Many common vegetables have small amounts of protein, so if you eat plenty of them, they add in to your daily total as well.
The body can manufacture all but nine of the 22 amino acids that make up proteins. These nine amino acids are referred to as essential amino acids and must be derived from food. That is why getting sufficient, good quality protein is crucial.
The Dangers Of Animal Protein
It might seem wise to err on the side of getting too much protein. But doing so poses health risks, particularly if youre consuming animal protein: A growing body of research demonstrates a link between animal protein intake and serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
A 2018 study of more than 81,000 people found that regular meat consumption was associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of heart disease. High consumption of animal protein was associated with early death in a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Another 2019 study found that white meat is as cholesterol-raising as red meat. In a cohort study published in 2014, high protein intake, especially from animal sources, was associated with elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes.And despite a common assumption that eating more protein can be helpful in achieving weight-loss goals, eating animal protein is actually associated with weight gain.
Animal protein is a major cause of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer,says Michelle McMacken, MD, director of the Adult Weight Management Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in New York City. Contrary to popular perception excess protein does not make us stronger or leaner. Excess protein is stored as fat or turned into waste.
Can Excess Plant Protein Be Dangerous?
Healthy Eating As A Vegetarian
The Eatwell Guide shows the different types of food we should eat to have a healthy, balanced diet, and in what proportions.
As outlined in the Eatwell Guide:
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How To Add More Protein To Your Vegetarian Diet
2 Minute Read
There are many ways to get more protein into your vegetarian diet it just takes a little planning.
Protein provides energy and helps your body function properly. Its one of three macronutrients that the human body requires. The other two macronutrients are fats and carbohydrates.
You can get protein either through meat or plants, but studies show that eating protein from plants is often healthier. A 2016 Harvard University study of more than 131,000 people showed that those who got their protein from plants had a lower risk of death from heart disease and other causes. This was especially true among people who had at least one unhealthy lifestyle factor, such as smoking, heavy drinking, being overweight or obese, or lack of exercise.
Vegetarian And Vegan Eating Throughout Life
Well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets can be appropriate for all stages of a persons life. However, special care needs to be taken for vegetarian diets during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and infancy and childhood. This especially applies to those who follow a vegan diet. Strict vegan diets are not recommended for very young children.
The Best Vegan Protein Sources
One way to step up your intake is to add rich protein sources to the majority of your meals. Include foods like:
One food that has surprisingly little protein is commercially-made almond milk. This beverage generally contains loads of sugar but very little protein. Soy milk is therefore typically a better choice for people wanting to boost their protein intake. Soy milk contains about six times more protein than almond milk, and its also much higher in lysine.
Looking For More Recipe Ideas
Youll learn everything there is to know about plant-based protein options and how to incorporate them into your everyday recipes.
I hope this post on vegan protein sources was helpful and answered some of your questions. Id love to know any comments, thoughts, or questions on this new series! Ill be back next month for How to Vegetarian: Becoming a Flexitarian.
The Ultimate Plant-Based Protein Cookbook + Course
How To Get Enough Protein As A Vegetarian
Last Updated: May 25, 2021References
This article was co-authored by Claudia Carberry, RD, MS. Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.There are 27 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 12,610 times.
Though meat is a rich source of essential protein, you can still be healthy and happy on a vegetarian diet. Eating a healthy, varied vegetarian diet may reduce your risk for many illnesses, including heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the PublicGo to source There are many different types of vegetarianism: vegans exclude all animal products including honey lacto vegetarians eat dairy but not eggs and lacto-ovo vegetarians include dairy and eggs in their diets. Pescetarianism, which includes fish and seafood but not other meats, is not technically a type of vegetarianism but is a popular lifestyle choice.XResearch source You can still obtain sufficient protein while adhering to a vegetarian diet, but you may need to do a little additional meal planning.
Can You Get Enough Protein As A Vegan Athlete
Being vegan can have its challenges for athletes and those who exercise, as it is important to ensure there is adequate energy and protein, omega-3 fatty acids as well as some key nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc and iron, as well as calorie intake.
A recent study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that vegan diets can be more difficult to maintain and that there may be some issues around digestion and absorption of key nutrients, but with careful management and some supplementation, a vegan diet can achieve the needs of most athletes satisfactorily.
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The Best Veggie Protein Sources
If youre cutting out certain food groups such as meat and fish, you might think your protein options are somewhat limited, but there are lots of options for packing in the nutrients.
Grains and pulses
And its well worth having that bowl of porridge in the morning 50g of oats made with milk contains around 2g of protein.
Try our milk-based super berry smoothie to kick off your day.
Soya and tofu
Nuts and seeds
Get more information on the health benefits of nuts in our essential guide.
Want to bulk up the protein on your plate? Check out our high-protein recipe collections for more inspiration:
How Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein
Vegetarians may be at risk of having a protein deficiency, so its important to incorporate more plant-based protein into your diet.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , most adult women should eat about 5 ounces of protein a day, while most adult men should eat between 5.5 and 6 ounces. One egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter, or half an ounce of nuts or seeds is equal to one ounce of protein. Meeting these goals can be done easily by adding plant-based proteins to every meal.
The USDA recommends building your meals around proteins such as beans, lentils, and rice. Think about which of these foods you like and how you can incorporate them throughout your day. Here are some examples of plant-based protein sources for you to try:
After choosing your favorite protein sources from the list above, start looking for recipes to try for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be adventurous and add new items to your grocery list. Its a lot of fun to research recipes before heading to the supermarket.
For more information on maintaining a healthy diet, consult a registered dietitian at UPMC.
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What Are Some Plant
Im a big fan of quality eating, no matter what macronutrient we are talking about. Its also why I think vegan protein sources have a leg up they are usually of higher quality.
We dont eat in a protein vacuum. All foods are going to contain other nutrients that we have to take into consideration. When I eat a cup of lentils, not only am I getting 18 grams of protein, I also have the benefit of 16g of fiber and almost zero fat. Contrast that with a similar amount of chicken which contains zero fiber, fat, and cholesterol.
Best Plant Protein Sources
If youre a vegetarian but not a vegan, you might incorporate these other protein sources into your diet:
- Eggs or egg whites: Eggs are a low-cost and nutritious source of protein. Each egg provides 6 to 8 grams. If you use egg whites, youll get fewer calories, but youll miss out on vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins housed in the yolk.
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of protein and calcium. To get the most protein bang for your buck, choose cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt. Both pack 13 grams of protein or more per serving, and you can dress them up with fruit, nuts or granola for a filling breakfast or snack.
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Are Vegetarian Diets Ok For Teens
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics endorses vegetarian eating, saying that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
So what does this mean for you? Being a vegetarian is a good choice if you can plan a well-balanced diet. Simply dropping some foods from your diet isn’t the way to go if you’re interested in maintaining good health, a high energy level, and strong muscles and bones.
Vegetarians must include these key nutrients into a vegetarian diet:
- vitamin D
- vitamin B12
If meat, fish, dairy products, and/or eggs are not going to be part of your diet, you’ll need to know how to get enough of these nutrients. The stricter the diet, the harder it will be to get enough of these from the foods you eat.
Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if you need to take daily vitamin and mineral supplements.
Vegetarians can get enough iron in the plant-based foods they eat. Sea vegetables like nori, wakame, and dulse are very high in iron. Less exotic but still good options are iron-fortified breakfast cereals, legumes , soybeans and tofu, dried fruit , pumpkin seeds, broccoli, and blackstrap molasses. Eating these foods along with foods high in vitamin C will help your body absorb iron better.
Your doctor may recommend a daily vitamin D supplement.
The Best Sources Of Protein For Vegetarians
BBC Good Food examines the best sources of protein for vegetarians and how to keep yourself nourished with protein-packed fruit, veg, eggs and pulses
Protein is a key part of a healthy diet. It used to be the obsession of body-builders and gym fanatics alone, but now lots of us are keen to ensure we are eating enough. It can be tricky to get your daily quota as a vegetarian if youre not sure what your best veggie sources of protein-rich foods are. Discover our best protein-rich recipes bursting with fresh veggie flavours that are key to a healthy diet.
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How To Tell If Youre Getting Enough Protein
The recommended daily allowance of protein for sedentary people is 0.36g per pound of bodyweight. For athletes the general recommendation is 1g per pound of bodyweight. People cycling steroids or on heavy bulking diets often choose to consume more.
If you are not balancing your amino acid types correctly you may however experience the symptoms of protein deficiency. There are a number of warning signs to watch out for.
Is Protein Deficiency A Real Thing
However, since doing research for this post, Im wondering if I should get my vitamin, nutrient, and protein levels checked by my doctor, just to assess if my current approach to my diet is adequate. Although, surprisingly, none of my doctors have mentioned this when Ive shared that Im vegetarian.
Im not sure if protein deficiency is even a real thing, although there are tons of sites out there listing the symptoms of protein deficiency. There is widespread belief that protein deficiency can be experienced by vegetarians who do not include sufficient amounts of a variety of plant-based protein sources in their diet. A few of the supposed symptoms of protein deficiency include:
- mental or physical tiredness,
- inability to focus or concentrate,
- hair loss and brittle nails,
- headaches and nausea, and
- cranky, anxious, or depressed moods, just to name a few.
However, Im discovering it is difficult to find medical doctors or medical sites that support this idea. Some sources suggest that protein deficiency only really shows up in the U.S. in places like hospitals or in populations such as the elderly who may not be getting adequate nutrition of any kind.
Other sources imply or outright state that protein deficiency is a very real danger for vegetarians, though many of these are selling their own product or service to combat this issue, so take that with a grain of salt.
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Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein
Theres no shortage of lists of high-quality vegan protein sources. But as you might expect, theyre often topped by soy products , seitan, and legumes.
My personal favorite vegan foods for protein in rough, descending order of how often I eat them are:
- Lentils , 18 grams of protein per cup
- Chickpeas, 12 grams/cup
- Tempeh , 41 grams per cup
- Black beans, 15 grams per cup
- Nuts and nut butters , varied
- Tofu, 11 grams per 4 ounces
- Quinoa, 9 grams per cup
- Other legumes, varied
- Grains, varied
I often, but not always, add vegan protein powder to my smoothie each morning depending on my fitness goals at the time. My son, for example, is an athlete trying to gain weight on a vegan diet, so he always includes protein in his smoothie.
Smoothies, in general, are a great way to boost protein intake on a plant-based diet, since you can easily add lots of other high-protein ingredients like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almond butter, and even beans .
See my basic smoothie recipe for details on how much of each to add.
What Foods Should A Vegetarian Be Focusing On
In general, every person whether vegetarian or not will benefit from including a wide and interesting array of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds and grains. Specifically oats, yams, broccoli and rice are fantastic sources of protein for the body. There is also an abundant choice of specifically developed powders and bars to add to your diet for an extra protein-kick.
It is important to be aware that while certain supplements, powders and bars are great for a protein boost they are not essential! They do assist with muscle recovery and energy output but opting for the most natural powders and supplements is best for your body.
A little gem I have come across is hemp powder. All natural and swiftly absorbed, this is natures giant for athletes, body-builders, or just those looking for extra protein. For an all-in-one effect, keep your eyes open for a hemp-based protein powder that has essential fatty acids and Vitamin B-12 included.
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