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What You Should Know About Plant-Based Protein

If you’ve been vegan for a while you’ve likely been asked the question “where do you get your protein from?” and if you’re not vegan yet, maybe you’ve been wondering that very thing yourself. The short answer is: vegans get their protein from plants!

Why do we need protein?

Protein is found in every cell of the body. It’s a macronutrient made from 20 building blocks called amino acids, and 9 of these amino acids cannot be made by the body, so they are essential to get from our food. Protein is required for growth, repair, maintenance and also gives the body energy.

Vegans are often bombarded with questions about where they get their protein from, despite protein deficiencies being almost unheard of in the UK. On average, we eat nearly double the protein we need. So it seems as if modern society has become somewhat obsessed with the idea of ‘getting enough’ of this nutrient.

Allow me to put your mind at ease: as long as you’re consuming enough calories through a varied diet, chances are, you’re getting enough protein! According to the British Heart Foundation, most adults need around 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight per day, which isn’t a lot. 

Best sources of plant-based protein

Nuts & Nut Butter

Nuts and nut butters are common healthy foods that have the power to jazz up any snack! There are plenty of varieties from plain-tasting almonds and super creamy cashews to the ever-popular peanut butter. Nuts are high in protein, fibre and healthy fats. 

Ideas for how to use: On breakfast, on salad, as a snack, or spread nut butter on bread, use as a dip, in baking recipes.

Seeds

Seeds are small but mighty sources of plant protein. Some of the most nutritious and beneficial seeds you can add to your diet are flaxseeds, hemp, chia, and sesame (especially for vegans). 

Ideas for how to use: On breakfast, in a smoothie, on salad, in a stir fry.

Tofu

Tofu is a soy-based product that’s made in a similar way to how dairy cheese is made from milk (through the process of curdling). Its plain flavour makes it an ideal ingredient for you to marinate in any way you want. For example, tofu is often seasoned with various herbs and spices to mimic different things such as halloumi cheese. It’s also a great source of iron and calcium for vegans and vegetarians.

Ideas for how to use: In a sandwich, barbecued, in soup, in smoothies (silken), baking mixtures, fried in oil as a snack.

Tempeh

Tempeh is also a soy-based product. It has a subtle nutty, earthy flavour yet can still take on the taste of anything you want, for example, bacon! As a result of being fermented, tempeh is also rich in prebiotics, which is good for gut health.

Ideas for how to use: In a sandwich, barbecued, chopped into a burrito bowl, in a burger.

Seitan

Seitan is often used by vegan brands such as Love Seitan and Upton’s Naturals to create delicious, realistic meat substitutes. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and holds a firm texture that can quite easily replicate meat. You can make it yourself from home by using wheat gluten, seasonings, and a tasty broth.

Ideas for how to use: In a sandwich, burger, as a roast, skewered, as a chicken substitute. 

Beans, pulses and lentils

Beans, pulses and lentils are fantastic ingredients to add to your diet to provide you with various vitamins and minerals. They’re a good source of protein, but also iron, calcium, and B vitamins.

Ideas for how to use: Roasted in the oven, on salad, on pasta.

Recipes high in plant-based protein

Feb 18, 2021
Jenny Edwards

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