Top 5 Non-Meat Sources of Protein for Vegans
If there’s one question every herbivore has been asked it’s: “But how do you get your protein?” Vegans and vegetarians both know that protein doesn’t only come from animal sources.
In fact, every fruit, vegetable, nut, bean, seed and grain contains protein. The only difference is that it comes from a plant, opposed to an animal. Plant-based protein differs from animal protein in a few ways. There are only a few plants that contain all 9 essential amino acids (known as a complete protein), so you must combine a variety of different sources of plant-based protein in your diet to ensure you are getting a healthy balance of amino acids.
Animal products are complete proteins and are generally easier for the body to absorb, but aren’t always a cruelty-free or economically sound option. And yes- plant-based protein can still help you build lean muscle mass just as efficiently!
Here are 10 non-meat sources of protein for vegans, vegetarians and anyone who wants to improve their health by eating more plant-based foods.
- Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are one of the highest plant-based sources of protein at 10 grams of protein per serving. The delicious, nutty flavour of hemp makes it a versatile addition to any breakfast bowl, smoothie, soup or salad. Whole hemp hearts or a plant based protein powder with hemp protein both provide the essential nutrients for vegans and vegetarians.
- Beans and Legumes
Chickpeas, kidney beans, fava beans, and lentils are all excellent sources of plant-based proteins that can be made into dips and spreads or eaten whole in soups and salads. Chickpeas are one of the highest sources of protein, containing approximately 15 grams per cup. If you can find sprouted versions of beans and legumes, the protein content is typically higher and the nutrients are easier for the body to absorb.
Quinoa is one of the plant-based proteins that contain all 8 essential amino acids! As more of a seed than a grain, cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein per cup and can be used as a base to make veggie burgers and as an alternative to rice and oats. Quinoa can make a salad more filling and can even be blended in smoothies or post-workout shakes.
- Wild Rice
Wild rice is higher in protein than any other variety of rice, including brown or white rice, at 7g of protein per 100 grams. Wild rice contains all 8 essential amino acids, another great option for vegans and vegetarians to get more protein into their diets.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have become more popular in recent years for their jelly-like texture that results from being soaked. With chia seed drinks on grocery store shelves and thousands of chia seed pudding recipes all over Pinterest, it’s extraordinarily easy to get protein in your diet from these little powerhouses. Chia seeds provide 4g of protein per ounce and also contain a favorable ratio of omega 3 essential fatty acids- another important nutrient that vegans and vegetarians risk being deficient in.