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Protein sources for vegans

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Why do we need protein in our diet?

Our body needs protein to build and repair itself, from muscles to tissues, bones and blood – it is the fundamental building block. Our hair and nails are also made from protein, and we need large amounts of the nutrient to stay healthy. Protein is found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses, which can make it difficult for vegans to get enough. However there are foods and supplements you can add to your diet to make sure you’re getting the right amount of protein.

How do vegans get their protein?

There are plenty of protein rich foods that are suitable for vegans to eat, they’re also delicious and can be used to make tasty meals, snacks and drinks.

The best high protein vegan foods

Vegan protein sources include, but are not limited to:

  • Quinoa
  • Broccoli
  • Tofu and other soy products
  • Beans – black, kidney, baked and edamame
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Seitan
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Green peas

High protein vegan meals

Adding a portion of beans to salads or curries can help to boost your protein intake, as can a sprinkling of nutritional yeast onto smashed avocado. Nutritional yeast is only high in essential B vitamins. If you are already eating these high protein foods and want to increase the amount of protein you eat further, you could add protein powder or supplements to your diet. You’ll need to make sure that the protein powder that you chose is vegan, as many are made with milk and egg proteins.

Adding protein to your meals can be really easy and tasty to do, there are plenty of high protein foods and recipes for you to choose from. When making salads, stir fries or chillies make sure to add in a portion of beans, whether you like edamame, black or kidney beans, not only will they bulk out the dish they’ll have to keep you feeling fuller for longer too.

High protein vegan meals could include:

  • Chickpea and spinach curry served with red rice and broccoli
  • Tofu stir fry with noodles and edamame beans
  • Red lentil dhal with flatbreads and roasted cauliflower
  • Soy mince and bean chilli with peas and quinoa, instead of rice

Do you get enough protein on a vegan diet

If you’re a vegan who follows a diet high in pulses, beans, cereals (oats, wheat, rice), soya products, nuts and seeds, then you should have enough protein in your diet. It’s important to mix up your sources of protein in order to get the full range of amino acids needed by your body to build and repair cells.

Are there any other vegan protein sources?

If you’re looking for protein products to support your vegan diet, then there are a variety of types and flavours for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking to add protein powder to meals such as pancakes or looking for a protein rich snack to eat while you’re on the go.

Vegan protein bars – Available in a variety of flavours, protein bars are great to grab when you’re on the go, packed full of added vitamins and protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Vegan protein powder – There are many protein powders available to buy in the UK, however not all of them are suitable for vegans. You can make lots of delicious meals by adding a scoop of vegan protein powder to almond milk to make a tasty shake, or blend with vanilla protein banana and oats for a filling smoothie, or add to pancake mixes to make vegan pancakes.

Vegan protein shakes – Available as pre-made refrigerated shakes or make your own with protein powder, shakes are a great way to fuel up when you’re at the gym or out and about.

Is whey protein vegan?

No, whey protein is made from milk; however there are vegan protein powders available that are also gluten free.

What is the best vegan protein powder?

There are many protein powders available in the UK market, however not all of them are suitable for vegans, although many are suitable for vegetarians. When buying protein powder you should pay special attention to the ingredient list and look out for the words egg, whey, casein or milk powder as these will mean that the protein is not suitable for vegans.

Can you eat bread as a vegan?

Yes, unless the bread contains animal products, for example vegans wouldn’t eat cheesy bread or bread that has been made with whey.

References

www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well
www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/vegetarian-and-vegan-diets-q-and-a/