Time to Read: 9 minutes
There are a lot of reasons that make people decide to stop eating meat.
The two main reasons center around animal cruelty and health. It’s important to remember, however, that simply going vegetarian or vegan and being healthy are two different things.
Being a vegetarian or vegan means that you have to plan out your diet with care. If you don’t, there are essential nutrients -like protein- you could miss out on or not get enough. This will affect your ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Luckily, there a lot of plant-based protein sources that are not only easy to use but delicious as well!
Let’s take a look at 10 of these sources so that you can make sure you are getting everything you need from your diet.
Tempeh is a fermented soy bean product that originated from Indonesia several hundred years ago.
It’s our absolute favourite vegan protein source here at vegan.io packing a whopping 19 grams of protein per 100 grams! It has a distinctly nutty flavour and is a bit of an acquired taste. Tempeh is not a processed food and on top of that it’s great for gut health because it’s fermented.
Tempeh soaks up flavours very well so makes a great meat substitute, like in our sticky miso rice with teriyaki tempeh.
There is a good chance that you are eating a good amount of tofu as a part of your diet. It is one of the most popular meat substitutes on the market today.
The best part about tofu is its flexibility. You can flavor it however you want, and it comes either hard or soft so you can decide what texture you want for each dish. It goes well with anything, absorbing the flavors you decide to add.
It contains 12.1 grams of protein per 100 grams and is animal fat and cholesterol-free, making it a vegetarian super food. Remember however that it is still a processed food, so it shouldn’t be used as your only plant based protein.
Just one cup of lentils packs a whopping 18 grams of protein.
In addition to being a plant based protein, they also contain fiber, another important aspect of maintaining a healthy vegetarian diet.
Lentils are a great addition to many of the foods that you already eat. If you want to add a different texture to your soups or salads, add a cup of lentils and enjoy.
When mixed with some garlic, bread, and marjoram, you can also form them into hamburger patties to give your guests a healthy and animal-free meal that are sure to enjoy.
Quinoa is actually a seed from the leafy part of the beat and spinach plant family. It has 8 grams of protein for each cup, and also contains fiber and antioxidants!
Much like the other plant based protein items on this list, it is extremely flexible. You can add it to just about any dish. It can be cooked, baked, and added to just about any dish you can imagine.
Make sure you wash it before use, however, as it has a natural coating that can make it very bitter.
5. Seeds As a Plant Based Protein
Sunflower, pumpkin, and other types of seeds are all great sources of protein as well as minerals.
Depending on the type of seed you use, they can add a variety of flavors to any of your dishes. This means that you can experiment with different seeds in different dishes.
You can use them as an ingredient in your favorite soup or salad, as well as using them to bake by grinding them up. Using them for deserts and as part of a granola or snack mix can also help fight off cravings that are high in sugar.
Nuts, much like seeds, are great sources of protein and minerals.
They are also extremely flexible as well. There’s not much that you can’t do with them, including mixing them with other plant based protein foods such as seeds.
Add them to salads or on top of any meal. You can blend them and use them to make your own butter, providing a tasty, healthy, and protein rich boost to just about anything.
Almonds work amazingly well for making a butter. It is not only healthier than regular processed peanut butter but a little grittier as well, which makes it wonderful for bread and perfect for your pre-workout smoothies.
You can also just eat them as they are. Just like seeds, different nuts have different flavors ranging from sweet to more of a bland flavor.
For the bland ones, use them to add texture to your dishes. The sweet ones will go great mixed in with any desert.
7. Soy Milk
There are two great things about soy milk. First, you don’t have to worry about the terrible conditions that dairy cows are put in while you are drinking it.
Despite what the talking cows in the television commercials proclaim, the dairy industry thrives on animal suffering, and any product that can take money away from them is optional.
Soy milk is also much healthier for you than regular milk. It has 8 grams of protein in just one cup, along with a number of heart-healthy components, making it a must-have plant based protein.
There are also studies that show that organic soy can actually cut down on the risk of cancer. There are sweetened and unsweetened versions, along with regular and almond soy.
You can use soy milk just as you would regular milk, putting it in your cereals or any recipe that calls for it. Perhaps the best use of it, however, is pouring it into a glass and drinking it.
8. Nutritional Yeast
Another product that takes away from the dairy industry while giving to you. Nutritional yeast provides both B vitamins and 4 grams of plant based protein for every tablespoon.
It comes in powdered form, making it easy to use. Since it has a cheesy taste to it, you can add it to your soy milk to create a vegan cheesy sauce.
You can also put it into dips and sauces, and use it on top of salads and in soups as well. For its versatility and taste, it should be considered a key part of any vegans dietary habits.
Not only are beans a great way to add protein and carbohydrates to your meals, but they are also versatile and delicious. There is a wide variety of them with different uses and flavors, meaning the possibilities are endless.
You serve as great sides to anything that you are eating. You can also use them as a meat substitute. Many restaurants will willingly swap out the meat in their products for beans, making their food healthier and animal free.
You can also use these beans to make dips and put them into soups or on top of sandwiches. An old southern favorite is to put pinto or kidney beans into a bowl with cornbread.
These are great for bulking up too. Check out our chickpea protein shake.
10. Chia Seeds
We put this one separate from the other seeds due to its uniqueness. Unlike other seeds, these are known for being able to absorb water and become a gel-like substance.
This probably doesn’t sound very appealing until you think of what this can be used for.
You can mix your chia seeds with soy milk to make a yogurt type snack that is not only tasty but packs a protein punch. You can also use them in oatmeal, cereal, and other dishes that require water to cook.
Ok, we said we were only going to list 10 but we couldn’t leave out Spirulina!
Spirulina is one of the top plant based protein items because of how much protein it has as well as its sweet and nutty flavor. It might just be the best-kept secret of the plant based protein foods.
It has a rich green color, which will turn anything mixed with it green. St Patrick would be proud!
While the color aspect of it is cool, the real awesomeness shines through when you look at the health benefits. It has been shown to increase energy, lower the chances of stroke and cancer, and will reduce cholesterol.
It can be enjoyed in a number of different ways. It is often seen as one of the ingredients in the green nutritional supplements that have become popular, but you can use it to make wonderful smoothies as well as just about any dessert.
There are a lot of these types of “super-foods” that claim to have immense health benefits. There are very few of them that have been backed up by a lot of peer-reviewed studies like spirulina has.
Simply put, if you don’t have this in your home, you should get it now.
Experiment and Have Fun!
One of the best things about being vegan/vegetarian is experimenting with different food combinations that most people wouldn’t think of. This is especially true when making sure that you are meeting your nutritional needs.
You can use various plants to not only get all of the plant based protein that you need but also to add some spice to your dinner life. You will experience new flavors without having to worry about contributing to animal suffering.
These ingredients are all fairly cheap as well. One of the biggest misconceptions about vegan life is that it’s too expensive to be enjoyed by everyone. With these plant based proteins and some other items, you can actually eat cheaply!
We have easy to follow recipes as well for every meal, including appetizers and snacks. Make sure you sign up for our vegan meal plans as well, which will help to make sure you get all of the plant based protein you need!