Whether you’re a long-term vegan or you’ve only recently made the switch, you might find one problem with your plant-based diet is getting enough protein. Protein is essential for the body to function as it not only gives you energy, but also helps repair cell tissue and create muscle1.
In the UK, the recommended daily intake of protein is 0.75g per every kilogram you weigh2. That means if you weigh 60kg, you should be aiming for around 45g of protein per day. Getting that much protein when you don’t eat dairy, meat or eggs can be tricky – but it’s not impossible. There are numerous nutritious vegan protein foods you can incorporate into your diet to help support your intake.
Good sources of protein for vegans:
Pulses, such as lentils and beans, are perfect protein sources for those who follow a vegan diet. They’re great for bulking up soups, stews, curries and salads, plus they count towards your five a day of vegetables and fruit.
When it comes to grains, things like barley, oats and rice are all excellent protein sources. Quinoa is also a high protein food and it additionally has the benefit of containing all nine essential amino acids. These are nutrients your body needs to function which it’s unable to create itself.
Soya beans are a fantastic source of protein and are available in a huge range of forms to suit your needs. Popular soya protein picks include:
- Tofu – Tofu is a great meat substitute to toss in everything from salads to tacos. Typically, a 100g of firm tofu contains about 8g of protein3 and it’s low in calories.
- Soya protein flakes/chunks – Other amazing soya-based products which can replicate the texture of meat are soya mince, bran and chunks. You can buy these dried and then rehydrate them by soaking them in water.
- Soya milk drinks – If you eat cereal in the morning or you love a good cup of tea or coffee, soya drinks are the most protein-packed alternatives to dairy4. You can also use soya milk in baking or in savoury sauces for pies and pasta.
- Edamame beans – Also known as soya beans, edamame beans are packed with protein and ideal as snacks or to add to salads or stir fries.
Nuts and seeds
If you’re searching for protein-rich snacks or things you can throw into your favourite dishes to bulk them out, nuts and seeds are ideal. Certain types are higher in protein than others, though, so choose them wisely.
Generally, almonds and cashews are good options, while flaxseed and chia seeds are particularly rich in protein. As nuts and seeds are high in fat, make sure you don’t eat more than a handful of them per day (about 30g)5.
What about supplements?
If you’d like to increase your protein intake by taking supplements, vegan protein powders are a good way to go. Vegan protein is typically made from all-natural ingredients sourced from plants and it can easily be mixed into drinks or swapped into many baking recipes in place of flour. Protein powders are an especially popular choice for people who exercise regularly and are looking to build up muscle.
Before you decide to gain more protein through supplements, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting as much as you can through your diet. If you’re unsure about what products to buy, speak to a dietician or one of our nutrition experts in store.
Last updated: 7 April 2020