HEALTH

5 Ways for Vegans To Get Necessary Protein

If you’re considering a vegan lifestyle, protein is a major concern. Protein is necessary to build bones, muscles and to carry oxygen throughout the body. If you don’t get enough protein, you could experience weakness, skin problems and a lowered immune system. Everyone knows the best protein sources are meat, poultry and eggs, but they’re off the vegan menu. If you’re cutting out animal products, here are five ways to ensure you get enough protein.

1. Eat Your Beans and Lentils

Beans are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and fortunately for vegans, they’re loaded with plant protein. Beans are versatile, which means you can eat them in many different forms. Beans are delicious by themselves, in soups or salads or mashed into refried beans or hummus. They’re also loaded with fiber, which aids in digestion.

All beans have protein, but the top contenders are black beans, chickpeas, navy beans and lentils. Lentils are fantastic as a soup and may be used as a satisfying meat substitute. Their consistency makes them perfect for sloppy Joes, tacos and as a filling for stuffed peppers. 

2. Take a Protein Supplement

One of the easiest ways to get more dietary protein is by taking a supplement. Protein supplements are available as shakes, tablets, snack bars, and as a tasty vegan protein powder. These vegan powders are completely plant-based with no artificial sweeteners and are available in a variety of delicious flavors you’ll love. Not only are protein powders easy to prepare, but they’re a perfect way to get your protein if you spend a lot of time away from home. 

3. Stock Up on Soy Products

Another way for vegans to increase their protein levels is by way of soy products. Soy products are derived from the soybean and contain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They also contain isoflavones, known as phytoestrogens, a controversial subject to some. However, phytoestrogens are good for your heart and may help postmenopausal women prevent hot flashes and osteoporosis.

Good sources of soy include tofu, edamame and tempeh, which is delectable crumbled onto salads or used as a ground meat substitute. You’ll also find a variety of soy milk and flavored creamers at your local supermarket. 

4. Snack on Nuts

Getting enough protein as a vegan can be as simple as snacking on a packet of nuts. Nuts are widely available, easy to store and you can take them anywhere. Plus, almost everyone loves them! The nut richest in protein, which is technically a legume, is the peanut, and you can eat it as peanut butter, too! Peanuts are wonderful sources of vitamin E and magnesium which benefit your skin and cardiac health.

Other nuts to stock up on include walnuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews. While nuts and nut butter are great sources of protein and healthy fats, remember they are also high in calories. A serving size of nuts should be no greater than a quarter cup, and for nut butter, only two tablespoons.

5. Serve Oatmeal and Other Grains

If there’s one virtually perfect food that’s easy to come by, it’s oatmeal. Oatmeal contains about six grams of protein per cup and is high in fiber. Oatmeal may also lower cholesterol and aid in digestion. If you don’t eat animal products, oatmeal is a satisfying way to get your daily protein. It’s also filling, so you’re less likely to overeat during the day.

Besides oatmeal, other grains rich in protein include quinoa, couscous, wild rice and amaranth. You can cook these grains in their original form, or buy them as cereal, granola or bread. If you’re concerned about the carbohydrate content of these grains, remember they’re “complex carbohydrates,” and not the same as “simple carbs” derived from white flour.

If you’re eliminating animal products from your diet, you need to watch your protein. With a combination of beans, grains and a high-quality supplement, your body will have the protein it needs to stay healthy.