If you are new to the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you may encounter a struggle in finding healthy sources of protein at your fingertips. There is plenty of protein options out there and many ways you can get enough protein in your diet. Below are my 8 favorite sources of animal-free protein to try today.
This legume has been around for over 9,000 years and is delicious in salads and soups. In the legume family, lentils are second to the top for protein content ringing in at 26% (soybeans take the number one spot). Lentils are small, but mighty, containing Vitamin B6, Folate, thiamin, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas belong to the legume family as well and are found in many Indian, Mediterranean, and Italian dishes. They have a nice texture, really something you can sink your teeth into. These legumes are easy to throw on a salad, sandwiches, and also creates a nice base for a delicious hummus to dip your veggies into. A half of cup of chickpeas contains 19 grams of protein. Chickpeas are also a great source of fiber and contain iron and phosphorus.
Raw nuts are a great way to take in protein; each ounce containing about 6 grams. Keep the amount of nuts you eat to a minimum though because they can be high in calories. Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and pecan butter are all great sources of protein as well. Stick to the simple ones with no sugar or oils added. Nuts contain Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Make sure you only eat the raw kind of nuts; the process that the salted and sweetened ones go through will wreck your diet.
Remember when your mom use to force you to eat your peas? Well, mom definitely knew best because peas are chock full of nutrients. One cup of peas has 5 grams of protein; they also contain vitamins B-6, vitamins K and A, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Peas are another veggie that is super easy to eat on its own or add to salads or soups.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that are packed together to make a patty-like form. It is a staple food for many vegans and vegetarians because only one ounce of tempeh contains 7 grams of protein. It also has iron and fiber in it. Many veggie burgers are made with tempeh but it is also great for anything that would require a meat as the main element of the meal.
Edamame means “immature soybean” in Japanese, but there is nothing childish about eating this tasty treat as a snack. You can eat edamame hot or cold straight out of the pod. Sprinkle them on a salad or drop them in a soup. They add color and pizzazz to just about anything. One cup of edamame has 130 calories, contains 12 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of carbohydrates. Edamame has vitamin C and K, thiamine, folate, niacin and B-complex vitamins. It also supplies you with calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Hemp seeds are packed with protein, zinc, magnesium and fiber. They give food a nice earthy flavor and just two tablespoons has about 6 grams of protein. They are a great addition to oatmeal, cookies, smoothies, salads and soups.
There are so many different kinds of beans: black, kidney, pinto, white, red, navy and the list goes on. Beans are a super food because they contain tons of protein; two cups of kidney beans has 26 grams in it. They are also packed with fiber (2 cups of cooked beans has 12 grams) and water, so they make you full quicker than other foods and they take longer to digest. To top it off, beans are rich in antioxidants so they help ward off cancer, Alzheimer’s and aging.
Decreasing the amount of animal protein you take in each week can be a challenge. But with a little creativity and determination, you will find that vegan protein is a delicious and somewhat exotic way of getting nutrients. Eating this way will keep you healthy and strong!