Protein-rich Plant-based Food to Add to your Daily Diet
Protein! Protein! Get your daily protein! Is all we hear about, a constant echo in our minds (if you are a vegan even more so). The doctors, your gym instructor, Instagram influencer you follow, random google ad - everybody’s concerned bout your protein intake. Sorry chicken wings and eggs! There’s a new bodybuilder in town! - Vegan protein. The world has gone vegan crazy lately and justly so. Along with it's noteworthy benefits, what makes it the most desirable is its ability to revamp your holistic wellness. Veganism campaigners have witnessed that long term veganism can result in a longer life.
Now let’s dive into the inevitable question that vegans are asked about many time in their lives - “ But what about your protein?” Yes, we get it! From rebuilding muscle and tissue, producing hormones, cell structure to the growth of hair, nails and healthy skin - protein is key. Let’s look at some of the Best plant protein options.
How Much Protein Do We Actually Need?
Thankfully we have our lead nutritionist Dr Shweta to put questions of vegan protein diet to rest. She opines that it should be 0.8 - 1gm per kg weight. So If you weigh 60 kg you will need approximately 45 grams per day. Forget about the numbers for a second, our bodies are much smarter than we give credit for, if you include the following list of food items in your diet, you don’t really need a calculator to be counting the grams of protein.
Plant-based Food Items to Turn to for a Protein-Rich Diet
We hope the fear of not getting enough protein does not stop you from being kinder to the world. Getting your daily protein intake through a well a planned vegan diet is really not that hard. Make the most of your plant-based diet with the addition of these plant protein sources, you can also look at "The Best Protein Sources for a Plant-based Diet."
Nuts can be a go-to snack for a plant-based diet. A handful of almonds can fuel you for whatever the day throws at you. Along with being rich in vegan protein, they also hold copper, fibre, vitamin E, magnesium and riboflavin, iron, potassium and zinc. That badam milk mum always urges you to drink sounds good right about now, doesn’t it?
Yes, it comes from the cannabis plant, no they are not illegal. Hemp seeds are one of the powerhouses of nutrients and the best superfood. They are considered a great source of plant protein since they have all 20 amino acids. Edestin protein which is a highly digestible form of protein is abundant in hemp seeds.
Edamame, Tempeh & Tofu
Edamame, Tempeh and Tofu are all soy derivatives. Soy is like rain on a hot day for vegans. Their ability to be processed into perfect milk and meat substitutes compared to their protein content. Unlike other plant-based proteins, Soy is the complete protein that contains all the 9 essential amino acids.
Chia seeds contain a decent amount of protein, a tablespoon of chia seeds contain 4 grams of protein. Tiny but packed with so much punch don’t you think? add them to your smoothies, water bottle, salads and oatmeals and you’ll meet our daily requirements. They have many benefits from being rich in fibre, anti-inflammatory, weight loss aid, bone health, heart health and more. You get a lot of o goodness in small amounts.
A third of the calories of lentils come from proteins. It is important to note although they are a high source of protein by weight they lack a couple of amino acids. Don’t worry! This is easily rectifiable by consuming them with whole grains such as wheat or rice. Adding lentils in the diet will open you up to a full range of health benefits like promoting digestion, heart health and regulated blood sugar.
The word might be unfamiliar in the Indian food world, but nutritional yeast is the new buzz word in nutrition. It is growing in popularity in becoming a type of seasoning that is replacing salt and pepper. It helps to activate reserved energy and contains 8-10g of protein in two tablespoons. You can buy them in form of powders, granules or f flakes from health stores.
This is a type of protein extracted from algae, yeast, fungi and bacteria that are normally grown in agricultural waste. A bit of a modern concept but extensively used in sports men’s diet and baby food too. It contains 65% more protein than any other natural vegan food. A tablespoon of spirulina supplement a day can compensate for most of your daily protein intake.
Other Essential Nutrients to Keep in Mind
Without animal food, they are some nutrients that need your special attention. With the proper resources and guidance, you can make sure to not miss out on any major food groups that could cause deficiency. Find your path to improved health and know about the supplements you might need here.
Popularly called out as the “ flaw” in a vegan diet is Vitamin B12. It is a common misbelief that this vitamin is only found in animal-based food products but can be derived from microorganisms. Nutritional yeasts, plant milk, algae or seaweed, mushrooms are some of the good sources. You can consider including a B12 supplement in your diet.
A nutrient that cannot be absorbed by any other food but the sun. Standing in the sun for 30 minutes in the afternoon every day will be sufficient but too much sun exposure can cause skin damage. Your geographical location, lifestyle and other factors could have an impact on amount of sun exposure. If you are facing trouble getting sun time, consult a dietitian for vitamin D supplements.
Dairy has practically become synonymous with calcium. All of our minds go to milk when the word calcium pops up. For vegans who are dairy-free, they are great plant-based sources such as almonds, hemp, soy, tofu, spinach, sesame seeds, lady’s finger for calcium. These are much healthier and fortified with other minerals along with calcium.
The nutrient that always manages to get concerning looks from vegans and vegetarians. Yes, it is true that meat is one of the highest sources of zinc luckily for us plant-eater we have peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, tofu, pecans, tofu and soy products for the rescue. You can strengthen your immunity and heal wounds with these food items as well, if not zinc supplements will do the trick to.
All women would have been advised to be on the lookout for this particular nutrient. The form of iron that is found in plants is a little harder for the body to absorb. But there’s always a solution, adding vitamin c foods along with iron can help to boost absorption. Spinach, kale, potatoes, tempeh, tofu, seeds and soy milk are sources of iron.
Essential Fatty acids
This is what you need to know - there are 3 types of Omega 3 fatty acids ALA, DHA and EPA. DHA and EPA are made by our body whereas ALA we need to rely on supplements and foods. Walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, tofu and soy protein can meet your requirements.
It's Time to Trade the Meat with Plant Protein
It is natural to feel stressed out about the strictness of the diet. A plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat if you make sure to get all the nutrients you need from a well informed and focused diet plan. Skip the animal products and fill your plate with a tasty and satisfying balance of vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and you are ready to take on the world.