Vegan Protein Sources and Recommendations

Protein for Vegans:
Basic Information

In the past, during the 1970s and 1980s, there was a prevailing belief that vegetarians and vegans were at high risk of protein deficiency. This concern largely stemmed from the influential book "Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappé, published in 1971. However, looking back, the book's protein recommendations were unnecessarily strict.

Today, the perception has swung too far in the opposite direction. Some vegans dismiss the importance of protein, and it can even be subject to mockery among certain individuals.

However, downplaying the significance of protein is entirely misguided. While it is true that vegans can easily obtain sufficient protein, many fall short in their intake. Therefore, if you follow a vegan or predominantly plant-based diet, it is risky to disregard the importance of protein.

Severe vs. Moderate Protein Deficiency

Protein deficiency is often associated with a severe medical condition known as kwashiorkor, which is typically found in areas of famine or among individuals with severe eating disorders. However, it's important to note that even small amounts of protein are sufficient to prevent kwashiorkor, making it extremely rare in the vegan community.

Some vegans mistakenly believe that the absence of kwashiorkor means their protein intake is adequate. However, this belief is dangerously misguided, as avoiding kwashiorkor does not necessarily indicate an optimal protein intake.

Furthermore, there is no definitive method to accurately determine whether your protein intake meets your body's needs. Even blood tests cannot reliably indicate suboptimal protein intake. Instead, various symptoms may suggest mild to moderate protein deficiency:

  • chronic fatigue
  • high blood sugar or triglyceride levels
  • inability to maintain sufficient muscle mass
  • depression

Although there are numerous negative aspects associated with meat, milk, and eggs, it is undeniable that these foods are rich in protein. If you remove animal products from your diet without adequately replacing them with protein-rich alternatives, it can lead to potential issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of vegan foods that are high in protein, making it easy for vegans to meet their protein requirements effectively.

Vegan Protein Recommendations

It is recommended that protein should account for only 10 to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake. Beyond the age of forty, the suggested protein intake is at least one gram per kilogram of body weight per day.

For instance, a 68-kilogram (150-pound) adult should aim to consume approximately 70 grams of protein daily. Moreover, it is important to ensure a sufficient intake of an essential amino acid called lysine, which is found abundantly in beans and quinoa. In comparison, rice, nuts, and especially corn are relatively lower in lysine content.

By comparing these recommendations with your current eating habits, you can assess how well your diet aligns. You may discover a need to increase your protein intake, which fortunately is quite straightforward to achieve.

The Best Vegan Protein Sources

To increase your protein intake, consider incorporating rich protein sources into most of your meals. Include foods such as:

  • Tofu
  • Vegan meats (most brands, but not those made from jackfruit)
  • Seitan (wheat gluten)
  • Beans, including lentils and split peas
  • Unsweetened soy milk
  • Hemp seeds
  • Nuts & peanuts
  • Green peas
  • Orgain and other vegan protein powders
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Clif Bars and Probars

Commercially made almond milk, surprisingly, has low protein content. While it typically contains high amounts of sugar, its protein content is minimal. For those aiming to increase protein intake, soy milk is a far superior choice. Soy milk contains approximately six times more protein than almond milk and is also richer in lysine, an essential amino acid. Opting for soy milk can significantly enhance both protein and lysine intake.

Tips for Increasing Your Protein Consumption

Our beans page provides valuable guidance on maximizing the digestibility of beans through proper preparation. If you find it challenging to digest bean-based foods, you may discover that tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are easier on your digestive system. Alternatively, nuts, seeds, and quinoa are excellent protein sources that are also easily digestible.

If you're not fond of the taste of beans or experience difficulties digesting them, it's advisable to explore other high-protein food options. Delicious and protein-rich choices include nuts, seeds, and nut butters. Oatmeal and whole wheat bread are also among the vegan foods with high protein content.

For individuals who struggle with beans or nuts, protein powders can be a valuable solution. They offer a concentrated dose of protein that is often more digestible than bean-based meals. Most protein powder brands provide around 20 grams of lysine-rich protein per serving. Orgain produces an affordable all-organic vegan protein powder that is competitively priced compared to other brands. Using a shaker cup can simplify the preparation process, eliminating the need to clean a blender for each serving.

Protein-Rich Recipes

By incorporating a few protein-rich meals into your cooking routine, you can effectively increase your protein intake to meet adequate levels. To explore various options, there are three dedicated cookbooks solely focused on providing protein-rich vegan recipes.

  • The High-Protein Vegan Cookbook for Athletes, by Braddock & Stark
  • The Plant Protein Revolution Cookbook, by Robin Robertson
  • The High-Protein Vegan Cookbook, by Ginny Kay McMeans
  • The Great Vegan Protein Book, by Steen & Noyes

It is a valid assumption that individuals who struggle to thrive on a vegan diet may not be consuming adequate amounts of protein. As meat is abundant in protein, a vegan experiencing moderate protein deficiency would likely experience improvement in their well-being within days of reintroducing meat into their diet. To avoid deficiencies, it is crucial to monitor daily protein intake and ensure it aligns with recommended guidelines. If you find yourself on the lower end, incorporating a vegan protein powder drink can help bridge the gap. By paying attention and being vigilant, one can prevent potential health issues in the future.

Are Vegan Diets Healthy?

Individuals of all ages can thrive on a vegan diet. The most comprehensive evaluation of the health benefits of vegan diets concluded that "Vegan and vegetarian diets can offer substantial health advantages when compared to non-vegetarian diets."

Why go vegan?

Joining a vegan lifestyle promotes good health, preserve numerous animal lives, and contribute to the fight against climate change. Also, the culinary experience of vegan food is truly delightful and becoming more accessible every year.

How to Go Vegan?

If you're planning to go vegan, you don't have to do it alone. This guide covers all aspects of transitioning to a vegan diet in an enjoyable way. By the time you complete reading it, you'll have a clear understanding of how to proceed confidently.

What Foods are Vegan?

By reading our introduction to vegan cuisine, you'll never face difficulty in finding delightful meals. Our comprehensive guide encompasses various aspects, including grocery shopping, convenient food options, dining out, and even travel recommendations.

Try Out a Vegan Diet

Embarking on a vegan diet is incredibly simple. Here is all the information you require to get started. Whether you choose to follow it for a day, a week, or a month, you will have an enjoyable experience and gain valuable knowledge.

Vegan Cooking Made Easy

Enhancing your cooking abilities is a highly effective approach to facilitate your shift to a vegan diet.

Investing just an hour or two in acquiring fundamental cooking skills can bring lifelong benefits to your culinary journey.

Vegan Nutrition Guide

A vegan diet offers significant health advantages since it it a nutritionally balanced, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and plant-based proteins. Plant-based diets are linked to lower cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Vegan Fitness Guide

This guide provides extensive information on vegan fitness, examining nine of the most popular activities. I will cover everything you need to know to elevate your physical fitness and reach new levels of performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any specific inquiries about veganism, our FAQ section provides precise and reliable answers. It covers 24 of the most frequently asked questions related to veganism, offering clear and definitive responses.

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