With raised awareness around animal agriculture and more and more individuals paying closer attention to their nutrition choices, people are beginning to adopt many different plant based alternatives into their diets.
One of the main concerns when individuals begin to adapt a plant based diet, is how are they going to get their protein in!? With a well planned, vegan or vegetarian diet, it is easy to get all the nutrients you need.
Consuming enough protein daily is great for your body in multiple ways. It helps build your muscles, it's good for your bones and helps maintain weight loss. Eating your protein helps you feel fuller longer and should be a staple in your nutrition.
The amount of protein to consume is different for everyone. Your weight, height and activity level all are key factors into how much protein you should eat. Finding your protein number is the best way to make sure you are consuming the adequate amount for nutritional purposes but also to assure you are reaching your fitness goals.
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Trying new foods and changing your nutrition practices might seem challenging at first, however once you see how there are many easy, substitutable options for items you already love, you will be able to make the change quicker than you think.
Whether your choice to not consume animal products is health related or an ethical decision, there are plenty of options for you to choose from so you don't miss out on any nutritional benefits and can still enjoy your favorite foods.
Remember, that even though there are many plant based protein healthy options, there are also many alternatives that are highly processed and packed with preservatives or sodium. This is a good opportunity to make a habit out of reading ingredient labels!
Below are the best non animal sources of protein for you to try today. I also tossed in a couple yummy recipes for you whip up in the kitchen. Let me know in the comments how they turned out and what you thought after you make them!
Tofu, which is made from soy beans curds pressed together, is a complete protein. This means it delivers all the essential amino acids that our bodies need. In addition, it is also a great source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.
Tofu plain doesn't have a lot of taste, but it will take on the taste of whatever you are cooking it with. Tofu is pretty versatile for you can bake it, fry it, grill it, etc! The recipe below is a great way to try tofu for the first time. With all flavor from the spices, your tofu will be delicious!
Serving Size: 1 / Serves: 2 | Calories 321 | Protein 24g | Carbs 17g | Fat 12g
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp mild chili powder
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 8 whole wheat flour tortillas
- Cut tofu into strips approximately 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch long.
- Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in hot pan and add tofu.
- Stir fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until tofu has golden color.
- Add Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, stir and set aside.
- Stir fry the onion, garlic and bell pepper in the rest of the oil, adding a little bit of water if necessary.
- Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Add salt, chili powder, paprika and cumin and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add tofu strips and mix well.
- Put about 1/2 cup of this mix into each tortilla.
2. Plant Based Beverages
Another way to get your protein is by drinking it! Plant based milks are popping up all over. One thing to watch with these is the sugar content. Some of these milks will come in unsweetened or original, opt for these flavors over vanilla or another flavor.
- Almond Milk - This one is my favorite! I add almond milk to my chai tea every morning. Almond milk It is made of either whole almonds or almond butter and water. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and is low in calories, fat and carbohydrates. Look for brands of almond milk that contain a high content of almonds, anywhere from 7–15%. Almond milk is very common among grocery stores and coffee shops.
- Soy Milk - Made from either soybeans or soy protein isolate. Typically has a mild creamy flavor. Soy milk is known as a complete protein meaning it provides all the essential amino acids which must be obtained from our diets. Soy milk has rich, thick and creamy texture. Its packed with 8 grams of protein and has calcium and vitamin D.
- Coconut Milk - Coconut milk is made from water and the inside white part of brown coconuts. This milk alternative has a creamy texture and a subtle coconut flavor. It has the lowest carb content of nondairy milks so this is a good option if you are looking to reduce your carb count. There are typically two types of coconut milk, the kind that comes in a bottle and the liquid that comes in a can. The canned coconut milk is very thick. Perfect for cooking soups and sauces. Bottled coconut milk is light and refreshing, which is perfect for smoothies and coffee.
- Oat Milk - Oat milk is naturally sweet and mild in flavor. It is high in protein and & fiber, but also in carbs and calories. It can be used in cooking the same way as cows milk. Oat milk has been growing in popularity due to its sweet taste when added to coffee beverages. It is also fortified with essential vitamins and nutrients and contains half of one’s daily requirement for vitamin B12.
- Rice Milk - Made from white rice or brown rice and water and is the least allergenic of the milk alternatives. This makes it a good option for those with allergies and intolerances to dairy, gluten, soy and nuts. It's thin consistency makes it popular for smoothies. Its pretty low in fat and contains b vitamins and antioxidants.
- Hemp Milk - Also a good option for those with food allergens for this plant based milk doesn't have any gluten, soy or nuts! The nutritional benefits of hemp milk is similar to oat milk. Both fortified with vitamins and minerals like B12, calcium and vitamin D.
Plant based milks have become increasingly popular with the rise in lactose intolerance among populations. Do you think dairy could possibly be the source of your bloating? Check out this blog on popular dairy alternatives to try to learn more.
Along with other beans like black, kidney and pinto, chickpeas pack a protein punch with about 15 grams per 1 cup!
They are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Chickpeas improve digestion and can also aid in weight management. They are high in protein and can make a good meat replacement for vegetarian and vegans.
Because they are packed with protein and fiber, chickpeas can help keep your appetite under control. They are a filling food which will help reduce your caloric intake at meals. They are nutrient dense meaning they have low calories but high nutrients.
Chickpeas also help manage your blood sugar levels! They have a low glycemic index, which is how rapidly your blood sugar rises after eating food. The fiber in chickpeas slows carb absorption, which promotes a steady rise in levels rather than a spike.
LEMON CHICKPEA BOWL
Serving size: 1 Bowl / Serves: 2 |Calories 430 | Protein 20g | Carbs 56g | Fat 9g
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat to medium-high heat.
- Coat the pan with oil.
- Add the onion, zucchini, and pepper.
- Sauté for 4 minutes, until veggies are tender.
- Add chickpeas, tomatoes, brother, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of black pepper to pan.
- Decrease temperature, till brought to a boil and let simmer.
- Stir to combine ingredients.
- Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Uncover, and simmer for 4 minutes, stir occasionally.
- Combine lemon zest and lemon juice.
- To assemble bowls: evenly divide the rice and chickpea mixture.
4. Oats & Grains
While grains are mostly thought of as a carb, some of them also have a high protein content. Oats are an easy way to add protein to a meal. Oats are not a complete protein like tofu but it contains better quality proteins than other grains like white rice and wheat.
Wild rice is also a grain to be familiar with. It contains around 1.5x more protein than brown or basmati! One cup cooked has 7 grams of protein and a good amount of fiber.
Lentils are a very versatile grain and can be used in a variety of dishes. With 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, lentils are both a great source of protein and a great addition to many soups and salads.
5. Seeds & Nuts
Nuts, seeds and products that come from these two, are great sources of protein. You know me, I love some nut butter with apples, YUM!!!
Besides protein, nuts and seeds are also packed with fiber and heathy fats. When you are shopping for seeds and nuts, remember to opt for the raw versions whenever possible. Blanching, roasting and salted damage the nutrient content.
Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. Who knew a seed so small could have so many nutritional benefits! They are super easy to toss into overnight oats, smoothies, or one of my personal faves (you know I love chocolate!) the chocolate chia pudding below.
CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING
Serving size: 1 / Serves: 3 | Calories 378 | Protein 21g | Carbs 19g | Fat 27g
- ¼ cup of cocoa powder
- 2 scoops of Rebecca’s Healthy Meal Protein*
- ½ tbsp of vanilla extract
- ½ cup of chia seeds
- 1 cup of almond milk
- Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
- Whisk the ingredients together.
- Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or leave in overnight.
- Add desired toppings.
Adopting non animal sources of protein into your diet shouldn't be a scary thing! I hope you enjoy trying these recipes. Remember, food doesn't have to be boring, there really is something for everyone no matter what your dietary preferences are. The BTES App has over 300+ recipes. Join now to see more!
Let me know some of your favorite vegan protein sources below in the comments!