If you’ve been vegan for as long as I have, you will definitely have experienced the age old question of “but where do you get your protein from?” Where every friend or family member suddenly becomes a self-acclaimed nutritionist concerned for your health. Well, they need not worry as being vegan in today’s world is not only easy, but also bountiful in protein sources!
As we become more absorbed into the mouth of the ever-changing world of social media, we become more ill-informed with the information it brings. It is easy to believe whatever someone says if they look the way you want to look, or they have a big following, but for many of these influencers, they don’t even have any form of qualification or knowledge to back up their ‘findings’. The fitness industry is a very big offender for this. Making people believe you need tonnes of processed proteins to get any form of results, whether that be to lose weight, gain weight and anything in between. This isn’t to say that every influencer is wrong, but a lot of them are glorified salespeople, trying to sell products or earn commission, ending up with a lack of empathy for the actual consumers who simply just want to hit a fitness goal.
To top it all off we add veganism to the mix! The rise in veganism should really be paralleled with the rise in vegan fitness personalities, but these do not seem to be growing at quite the same rate. When I began my fitness journey I was led to believe that if you didn’t eat lots of chicken, or drink lots of protein shakes, there was no point even trying. Although I think this mindset has become more evened out, there’s still a long way to go. But have no fear, I am here to provide you with just a few vegan protein sources I wish I knew about, showing you it is possible to be vegan and to be fit! These sources are also clean protein sources, as easy as it is to just drink protein powders endorsed by Celebs, if you don’t know how they’re made or what’s actually in them then you don’t realize that these are indeed ‘bad’ for your health. So on that note, let’s eat!
Vegan protein powders
Although I mentioned I am not a fan of protein powders, the brand Form Nutrition is an exception. Form Nutrition is a very clean protein powder source, with the added benefits of multiple vitamins, minerals, greens, fruits and even digestive enzymes. It provides an overall health profile that can only be seen as beneficial. I personally only drink it once a day or every other day. That’s all you need, that’s all anyone should need! To help in your diet but not to replace everything and anything else.
Well this one should be obvious. Nuts, beans and legumes are just such underrated protein sources. I will be honest and say I basically bathe in chickpeas at this point! Not only are these foods incredibly easy to cook with, they’re also versatile and provide such a nutritionally diverse profile. Compared to processed protein I think items such as beans are a much better fit.
Vegan meat alternatives
It is easy to look at all the vegan meat alternatives and think wow those are easy and tasty, I’ll just have those all the time. But once again some of these are incredibly processed and not worth the meaty taste! There are however some brilliant brands that are as natural and simple as they can be. One example is Eatplanted: this brand specializes in vegan chickens, kebabs and more. With very minimal ingredients such as pea protein, herbs and lemon juice, this vegan meat alternative is a great choice for those quick protein fixes without the damage of your systems in the process! Another brand I recently came across is Chiki monkey. They make No-fu products, meaning products that work like tofu but without as much processing/soy. This is another great alternative, it’s main protein source is chickpea flour, this providing you with a great range of amino acids and nutrients.
As well as pre made meat alternatives there are of course the more natural vegetable and plant forms. This includes banana blossom and jackfruit. Although these have a much lower protein content, paired with a bean or legume they make for a great alternative. Pulled jackfruit or banana blossom are a great substitute for pulled meats like duck or even fish. Both high in vitamins such as potassium they still pack a nutritional punch. Another slightly higher protein packed source is king oyster mushrooms. I mean, all mushrooms are great but these in particular are just brilliant for cooking with. Once again they can be shredded and used for pulled meats, and they’re absolutely brilliant in fajitas!
These alternatives are all soy-free, and this isn’t to say that tofu and tempeh are not good protein sources, but I think we’re led to believe they’re the only sources. Tempeh is especially brilliant as it is fermented, thus getting rid of some of the nastys of soy that may otherwise alter your hormones and gut biome. Tofu and tempeh are yet more alternatives to add to your cooking. I am a huge fan of tofu scramble as a replacement for eggs. Scrambled tofu with a bit of coconut yogurt for creaminess is a great protein source as well as a delicious and light meal with more protein than some of its non vegan counterparts.
Now this is a little bit more underrated but is something I’ve come across more recently and don’t know how I survived without them! Protein pasta can range from being made of chickpeas, lentils, rice, edamame beans and even oat flour. Not only are these sources lower in carb content, they pack such a protein punch with the added enjoyment of still having pasta! Of course normal pasta is still a great carb source and is not to be ignored. But these protein pastas are great for when you don’t fancy cooking a bunch of vegan meats or added beans. Simply having chickpea pasta and tomato source, gets you a good amount of protein with minimal effort. Some great brands include: Explore Cuisine, Zenb, Dell Ugo and even your local shops now like Tescos and Sainsburys who both have a great range of lentil and spinach pastas.
Planet organic have a wide range of protein pastas.
So to summarize. The next time someone questions you about your protein, or says you’ll never get anywhere with your fitness goals as long as you’re vegan, tell them to go do some research because boy oh boy are they wrong! Not only will you be better off conscience wise, you’ll be eating cleaner, healthier and more well rounded meals. So if anything you should be educating them on how to eat cleaner protein, and how veganism is by far the best way to do so!
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Photo: Tyler Nix via Unsplash