Protein is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. For many fledgling vegetarians and vegans, the first question that will often pop up is Where will I find protein? And I'm here to tell you that plants are a more than satisfactory source. When you consume plant-based proteins, you're saying goodbye to the saturated fats found in animal products. A medium-size steak, for instance, has about 68 grams of cholesterol; a large egg has about 186 grams of cholesterol. Plant-based proteins, however, are naturally low in salt and cholesterol. An added bonus is that these proteins are packed with minerals, vitamins, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, all essential for a vibrant body. Read on for five of my favorite vegan protein sources that are simple to add to your grocery list.
Not all vegetables are created equal in regard to their protein quota. Broccoli, spinach, artichoke, peas, and kale have the largest amount. They include about 5 grams of protein per cup when cooked. You can get your daily dose of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals with these veggies as well.
Not only is nutritional yeast a great topping for almost anything and gives a cheesy flavor without using any dairy. It's packed with B vitamins and fiber, and is a complete protein with 8 grams per serving. It’s low in sodium and fat, and is gluten-free—the perfect vegan protein source.
Quinoa and Amaranth
Quinoa and amaranth are actually seeds, but they're considered grains because of the way they're prepared. Both reach 8 grams of protein per cooked cup. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, is higher in fiber than most grains, and also has large quantities magnesium and iron. Amaranth aids digestion, keeps bones strong, and helps fight inflammation in the body.
These little seeds are amazing not only for your cells but also for your skin. Chia seeds are packed with antioxidants, calcium, and fiber, and you can easily get in your daily omega 3s. They're a versatile ingredient, too—I like to add chia seeds to my smoothies and sprinkle them over salads.
One cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 18 grams of protein. Lentils are very versatile in the way they can be cooked. This ingredient is great in soups, salads, grain bowls—you name it. Added to that, this protein powerhouse is high in folate, iron, and manganese, and helps to promote a healthy gut. Sounds like a winner in my book.
Now that you know what ingredients to use, read on for two editors simple, nutritious vegan recipes.