Eating a plant-based diet is a healthy and ethical choice, but finding enough sources of protein can be challenging for vegans. While many people associate protein with animal products, there are plenty of ways to get protein from plants. Some of the most nutrient-dense and protein-packed foods are vegan. However, not all sources of plant-based protein are well-known, and some may surprise you. Let’s explore some uncommon sources of vegan protein that are both delicious and nutritious. Whether you’re a vegan looking for new protein sources or simply trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, these options will provide a satisfying and healthy boost to your meals. (Also read: Plant Power Day: Supreme plant-based proteins for the Indian plate )
Uncommon sources of vegan protein:
“Protein is a crucial micronutrient that plays several important roles in our body, such as building organs/muscles/nails/hair, facilitating muscle contraction, enabling cell communication, producing immune molecules and enzymes, and regulating hormones. The amino acid arginine present in protein also helps balance our hormones and slows down insulin,” says, Tanisha Bawa, award-winning certified nutrition coach and founder of TAN|365.
She further says, “Protein is composed of 20 amino acids, of which 8 are essential, meaning our body cannot produce them and hence, must be obtained from external sources. Animal protein contains all 8 essential amino acids, whereas plant protein can be classified as complete or incomplete proteins, depending on their composition of the amino acids. Vegans and vegetarians must ensure they consume all the essential amino acids through their meal combinations.”
“To differentiate between good quality proteins, one must understand the types of proteins available. Animal protein from grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, and wild-caught fish is an excellent source while plant proteins such as spirulina, hemp, soy, quinoa, lentils, buckwheat, and amaranth are complete protein sources. Incomplete plant proteins like brown rice, peas, beans, chickpeas, and tahini can be combined to acquire all the essential amino acids, but they must be consumed on the same day. A major con of consuming plant proteins is that they often contain more carbs and antinutrients which can reduce the nutrient absorption and cause side effects,” added Tanisha.
She further shared with HT Lifestyle, some better sources of protein for vegans and vegetarians.
- Pistachios are an excellent high-protein snack. They have approximately 25 grams of protein per cup.
- Pea protein is a popular vegan protein option. It’s easy to digest, and a good source of the amino acids your body needs to build muscle. It would contain 14 grams of protein per scoop.
- Almond butter is packed with fibre, calcium, potassium, and iron. Add a scoop of almond butter on top of your chia seed pudding, in a smoothie, or with a banana. Contains 7 grams of protein in 2 tbsp.