Protein is important to our health because it is one of the building blocks for our body. Without it, we wouldn’t function at our best and our bodies wouldn’t be able to support us in the long-term. When most people think about protein, they think of meat, fish, cheese and eggs.
People who choose to be either a vegetarian or vegan decide against eating these types of foods as it doesn’t fall within their belief system.
In theory, most vegetarians and vegans replace animal products with lots of whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and some whole grains. The reality however, can often be quite different.
What Can Go Wrong in a Vegetarian and Vegan Diet?
Switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet doesn’t mean people suddenly become immune to all the food temptations out there. People can still binge on dairy-free chocolate, fake meats and cheeses, alternative ice-cream and chips. Often, these foods are loaded with preservatives, colours, flavours, refined salt and sugar, gluten and wheat. Unless the product is explicitly labelled non-GMO, you can be sure you’re getting a dose of chemicals with your food.
Additionally, vegetarians and vegans commonly eat a lot of soy. Many of my clients ask me ‘Is soy bad for you?’. Yes it is, as it increases estrogen production.
In women, this increases the risk of certain cancers and hormone imbalance-related disorders, and with the amount of soy that mock meat and cheese products contain, this is a real concern. If you want to know more information, you can read about the dangers or soy here and here.
While vegetarian or vegan friendly processed foods might sound more nutritious, don’t be fooled. Reading the nutrition panel on a food product can often be a waste of time, not because they can be complicated, but rather they don’t tell you if the food is real. Instead read the ingredient list to determine if the food is REAL or if it contains a number of chemicals, preservatives and additives.
You may be now thinking ‘What are some real-food plant based protein options?’ Did you know every whole food contains protein? From nuts to bananas to salads, finding plants packed with protein is so easy to do.
10 Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Options Rich in Protein
Did you know that the following plant based foods contain protein?
1. Chia Seeds
By weight chia seeds are 14% protein and have a good balance of essential amino acids which allows our bodies to utilise the protein easily.
Chai seeds decrease appetite and cravings because of the high amounts of fibre they contain. One of the benefits of this is that the fibre feeds the good bacteria in the intestine, which keeps your microbiome fed resulting in optimal health. You can read more about the benefits of chia seeds here.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Just 100g of sunflower seeds contains 21g of protein. They’re also rich in Vitamin E, copper, selenium, thiamine and essential fatty acids. They make a fantastic alternative to nuts.
Spirulina is a great source of protein, in 100g it contains 57g of protein (or 1-2 tsp contains 6-10g of protein). It’s also rich in iron, calcium, Vitamin B12 and copper. If you are looking to increase the number of ‘greens’ into your daily diet then the Changing Habits Supreme Green Powder is a perfect solution. It contains spirulina, chlorella, broccoli sprout powder, kelp powder, barley grass and stevia to sweeten. These green super foods are the perfect way to supply your body with plant based vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and amino acids in a convenient manner, which are easily digested, absorbed and utilised by your body.
Broccoli probably isn’t the first food you think of when you’re searching for healthy plant based protein option, but it does contain roughly 3g per cup. The health benefits of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts are extensive. Their bioactive compounds are implicated in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of various cancers, immune regulation and nervous system protection.
Avocados are a great source of Vitamins A, D, E, K and B6, along with fibre, potassium and 18 essential amino acids which are all necessary for the body to form complete protein. They are very versatile as they can be used in desserts like raw cheesecakes, chocolate mousse, guacamole, dips, salads, sushi or simply enjoy plain with salt and pepper on top.
I love it when fresh figs are in season, they taste divine. They’re rich in fibre, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, Vitamins K and B6. You may be surprised to learn that even figs contain a small amount of protein.
7. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are another great source of protein. There are 18g in every 100g. They also contain copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, fibre, selenium and phosphorous. They are very versatile as they can be sprinkled over soups and salads, added to homemade breads and muffins, make them into a sesame seed paste/butter (tahini butter) or create different kinds of alternative dips and sauces.
Eight spears of asparagus contain 3g of protein. They contain Vitamin A, C and K, potassium, glutathione, antioxidants and also aid to reduce water retention.
Nuts such as almonds are a great snack and roughly 25 almonds contain 6g of protein. They are also a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, niacin, manganese, riboflavin and Vitamin E which is great for the skin. Another protein packed nut is the Brazil nut. 100g of Brazil nuts contain 15g of protein, plus they are a great source of the mineral selenium, which we need to produce the active thyroid hormone. Selenium also supports immunity and helps wounds to heal.
Inca Inchi Protein Powder is a natural, gluten-free, chemical-free source of protein, essential and non-essential amino acids, Omega’s, vitamins and minerals. It’s a great option for vegans and vegetarians that need the plant protein; fantastic for families who are ‘on the run’ to supplement the daily diet; and a ‘must have’ for the gym junkies and body builders to replace the chemical-based whey proteins.
Inca Inchi Seeds and Inca Inchi protein powder are considered a low allergenic, all natural single ingredient food and provide a good substitute for people who develop sensitivity to whey protein and other highly processed protein powders.
Inca Inchi Protein Powder has the highest concentration of protein in our list, as it contains 60g of protein per 100g. You can use it in any of the following recipes:
So there you have it, 10 healthy vegan and vegetarian plant-based protein options. Enjoy!