It’s estimated that just 0.1 to one percent of the world population follows a vegan diet. While that may not seem like a lot, it equates to around 79 million people.
For many vegans, a top concern is ensuring their dietary needs are met while following a dairy and meat-free diet.
While this may seem like an impossible task, that simply isn’t the case. Today, there are more than a few ways that vegans can follow their healthy eating plan and get sufficient protein in their diets.
How Much Protein Is “Enough?”
Vegans have the same protein needs as non-vegans with similar activity levels. However, vegans must consider the variety and quality of food sources, including the bioavailability of amino acids.
For vegans who want to gain muscle, a good goal is two to 2.2 kg of protein per kilogram of their body weight. This is necessary to compensate for the reduced levels of amino acids in vegan foods.
The biggest challenge for many vegans is separating protein from the other macronutrients. That’s because protein amounts are higher in animal sources than vegan foods, making it easier for individuals who eat meat to get specific with their macronutrient amounts.
Most vegan foods combine fats and proteins (like seeds and nuts) or carbohydrates and proteins (like legumes and pulses). While this isn’t an issue, it does mean you have to pay closer attention to the macronutrient amounts to ensure you are getting sufficient protein.
Is It Possible To Get Adequate Protein On A Vegan Diet?
There is protein in plant foods. For example, vegetables, beans, seeds, legumes, nuts, grains, and pulses are all full of it.
Vegans can also supplement with vegan protein powder to ensure their daily needs are met.
This means that you should not listen to those who say you can’t get sufficient protein while following a vegan diet.
The Top Protein-Rich Foods To Add To Your Vegan Diet
Some foods have more protein than others, which will fit into your healthy living diet well. These are also vegan-friendly options.
Some of the best foods to add to your diet to increase your protein intake include:
Most people don’t realize that green peas have almost nine grams of protein in every one cup. This means there’s more protein in green peas than a cup of cow’s milk.
Even better, green peas are full of other nutrients, too. They include 25% of the daily recommended amounts of:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
However, that’s not all. They are also good sources of B vitamins, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Nuts, Seeds, And Nut Butters
Nuts, seeds, and products created from these are also good protein sources.
A single ounce has five to seven grams of protein (depending on the type of nut or see you consume).
Most nuts and seeds are also great sources of phosphorus, B vitamins, healthy fats, vitamin E, calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium, and calcium. Antioxidants are also found in many nuts and seeds, along with other types of beneficial plant compounds.
When selecting what seed or nut to eat, remember that roasting and blanching the nut or seed can damage the nutrients. Because of this, it is best to choose unblanched, raw options when possible.
You can also eat natural nut butter. Doing so allows you to avoid the additional salt, sugar, and oil that is added to other popular peanut butter products.
This is sold as yellow flakes or powder and is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.
It tastes cheesy, so it is commonly used in scrambled tofu and mashed potatoes. It can also be sprinkled on pasta and popcorn.
Eating 16 grams of nutritional yeast is considered a complete plant protein source. It also provides three grams of fiber and eight grams of protein.
Fortified nutritional yeast is also a great source of B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and various B vitamins. Keep in mind, though, that not all nutritional yeast is fortified. Make sure you read the label of the product you plan to purchase carefully.
Edamame, Tempeh, And Tofu
Edamame, tempeh, and tofu are all made from soybeans.
These are considered whole sources of protein. This means that they ensure your body receives all the necessary amino acids.
Immature soybeans are used for edamame, which provides a slightly grassy, sweet flavor. They must be boiled or steamed before eating.
You can eat these on their own or add them to your salad or soup.
Bean curds are pressed together to make tofu. The process is like how cheese is made.
Tempeh is made by cooking and fermenting mature soybeans. They are then formed into a block.
While tofu doesn’t have much flavor alone, it will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients in your dish. Tempeh, on the other hand, has a nutty flavor.
Meeting Your Dietary Needs While Following A Vegan Diet
As you can see, it is more than possible to meet your daily dietary needs while following a vegan eating plan. Keep the information above in mind, which will help you know what to eat to get the protein requirements for your body.
Keep in mind the more active you are, the higher your protein needs will be.
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