High Protein Vegan Foods

Overview

A well-balanced vegan diet including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and high-quality, plant-based proteins offers all of the nutrition required for adults or children. Vegan foods, including grains, nuts, seeds, beans and meat alternatives such as TVP (textured vegetable protein), are healthier protein sources than their meat counterparts.

Benefits

High protein vegan foods are generally more healthful and less expensive than their animal-derived counterparts. Plant-based proteins are more likely to be cholesterol-free and far less likely to increase the risk for hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease when compared with animal-based proteins.

Misconceptions

Early, now-refuted research led people to believe that plant proteins were inferior to animal proteins and that vegans could not acquire sufficient protein from a plant-based diet. This has been disproved.

Types

There is a wide variety of high protein vegan foods, including tempeh (41 g of protein per 1 cup serving), tofu (20 g per 1/2 cup), beans (14 to 20 g per cup), soybeans (14 g per 1/2 cup) and almonds or flaxseeds (8 g per 1/4 cup).

Ease of Use

Plant-based vegan protein sources are easily incorporated into meal planning. For example, meat alternatives such as TVP (textured vegetable protein) can replace ground beef as a cholesterol-free, heart healthy alternative in pasta sauces, and burger patties made from grains, beans and vegetables offer better nutritional value than hamburger patties.

Considerations

There is some concern that vegans can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12 is very low (2.4 micrograms per day for adults) and can be obtained through nutritional yeast, fortified cereals and nondairy milk alternatives, some meat substitutes and dietary supplements.

Who Can Help

  • Protein Content Table and Sample Menus from The Vegetarian Resource Group

About this Author

Mavyn McDaniels is a freelance writer, wellness practitioner and small eco-business owner based outside of Seattle, Wash. Her previous publications include a bi-weekly social column in the San Diego-based "Update" newspaper and various magazines, newspapers and online publications. She holds a Master of Arts in clinical psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara.

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