Protein In A Vegan Diet – Is It Important And Where To Find It
Protein is essential in our diet and being a vegan means that variety is extremely important in making sure you get enough protein. Things like vegan cheese are not ideal as they are processed food and offer very little health benefits.
Since the human body contains around 17% protein. All of our organs, skin, eyes, and hair are mainly made up of protein. Without protein, our immune system wouldn’t be able to fight off infections.
There are nine essential amino acids that we have to get from food as our bodies are incapable of making these. Amino acids make up protein. Combining the right food types is essential to getting the necessary amino acids and therefore receiving vitamins, minerals, and enough protein.
Being a vegan can bring challenges that vegetarians and omnivores might not face.
For instance, if you played a lot of sport or you are quite athletic then you will need to monitor your diet to make sure you are receiving enough protein along with all the minerals, and vitamins you also need like B Vitamins, Iron, and Zinc.
Food With High Sources Of Protein
There are many sources online that will give you comprehensive lists of where to get vegan protein but to give you some ideas of what fill your shopping basket with here are some of the best proteins a vegan can eat:
Soybeans and anything originating from them such as tofu, edamame, and tempeh.
Lentils have been the butt of jokes for vegetarians and vegans for years but they are full of protein, manganese, and iron. They are widely used in Indian cooking and are very good for you.
Beans And Chickpeas
When some people think of a vegan diet they often believe it is boring and lacking in essential vitamins and protein but there are so many options out there. Chickpeas in a chana masala or a variety of beans (including kidney beans) in a vegan chili no carne can be delicious.
Other very good sources include seitan, hemp seed or chia seeds (sprinkled over food), spelt, and quinoa. Don’t forget nuts and oats including oatmeal. Don’t just settle for supplements – although these can be useful as an additional source of protein -but search out tasty and nutritious options for your vegan lifestyle.
Athletics And Sports As A Vegan
There are a lot of myths surrounding sports, athletics, and vegans. There are still many who believe that a vegan diet cannot support an active sports enthusiast. Luckily science says otherwise and there are many statistics and facts to back this up. The important thing is to eat a variety of foods throughout the day so your body pools all the amino acids and uses these when it needs to create protein.
Lysine is the most important thing to focus on if you are a vegan and especially if you are very active.
Instead of trying to focus on all the protein in your meals look at your daily lysine intake. Lysine is another essential amino acid but one that is not abundant in plant-based food. The best sources of lysine are lentils, tofu, seitan, pistachios, Tempah, and amaranth. Pumpkin seeds contain lysine too and are a healthy snack to boot.
How Much Protein Should I Have A Day?
The amount of protein you should consume every day is based on your weight. Generally speaking, you need to take in 0.8 grams for every kilogram you weigh. So for a 70-kilo man, you would need to consume about 56 grams.
Is It Possible To Have Too Much Protein?
It would seem there is not a completely straight answer to this. Put simply too much of anything is usually not good for you but it would depend on your circumstances and general health.
If you consume too much protein you may be putting yourself at risk of kidney stones but there is evidence that in the elderly or infirm, protein can help reduce muscle loss. Most of the risks of having too much protein such as heart disease and colon cancer come from meat eaters rather than vegans or vegetarians.
Is It True That I Won’t Get Enough Protein If I Become A Vegan?
As we looked at it before, for athletes, this is not true. As a vegan, you will have to take more care and think over your diet than an omnivore. If you are worried you aren’t getting enough vegan protein then you can always consider a supplement. There are a lot of different shakes or just protein powder that you can add to your diet.
Supplements For Vegans
What supplements should you consider if you are a vegan?
If you are an athlete or an active sports person then you will have different requirements and possibly want to consider supplementing your diet. B12 is an important factor. Most B vitamins can be found in plant-based food with the possible exception of B6 but B12 is a problem, so a supplement may be necessary.
As a vegan, you can eat food fortified with B12 or you can take a supplement. This might be in the form of a pill but if you prefer, you could get your vegan protein and vitamins from a shake.
There are also many protein powders out on the market that you can add to your food. Some may shake their head at adding supplements but they are plant-based and give an easily available and digestible way to add protein and vitamins to your diet and should be considered.
So you can see now how important protein is in a vegan diet, how much you need and some of the ways to gain it.
If you are thinking of switching to a vegan diet and worried about if you can get enough protein you don’t need to worry. There are many ways to keep up your intake of amino acids to form protein but you will need to monitor your food a little more.
There are many benefits to changing to a vegan diet but some challenges too.
Last Updated on October 1, 2020