Part 2 of my Ask Anything series!
Where do I get my protein on a vegan diet? This is something I think every vegan get asked, so often they just want to cringe or roll their eyes every time they hear it. But it's a very genuine question, one I probably asked it myself before I went plant based. Society, advertising, and the media have all done an awesome job of making people think that protein only comes from meat when in actual fact all plant foods contain protein. Not only that, they're so much better for you because they also contain a ton of vitamins fibre and minerals that you won't find in animal products.
Here's a chart that shows just some of the vegan protein sources.
The other thing that is so misconstrued in media is the amount of protein we need daily. The fact is we don't need that much, you won't wither away and lose all your muscle if you don't pack it in. I know many who thrive on an 80/10/10 lifestyle (which is 80% carbohydrates, 10% fat and 10% protein). Some of those people are the fittest healthiest people I've ever come across, including body builders and professional athletes, which blows the protein myth out of the water. While this might not work for everyone we certainly don't need to be knocking back protein shakes and scoffing steaks to be fit and healthy or to build muscle. I don't bother counting macros, I just try to eat a wide variety of foods that make me feel good and my body runs well on.
I usually base our evening meal based around something higher protein because my partner comes home after a long day wanting something hot and filling (otherwise i would probably just live on smoothies!) These are some of the things I've found work well as meat replacements or make a dish more filling
- Red lentils make a great replacement for mince in quite a few dishes, I often use them to make spaghetti bolognese
- Quinoa cooked in vegetable stock or a cup of chickpeas tossed through a salad
- Baked or grilled tofu in place of steak
- Tempeh chips - slice it thinly then marinade or rub some salt into it and bake until crispy
- Tempeh bacon - marinate thin slices in liquid smoke, tamari and coconut sugar then bake or fry
- Spicy mexican beans with fresh salsa guacamole and crispy lettuce - have in wraps, with baked potatoes etc
- Refried and black beans on nachos with fresh salsa, avocado and a dollop of coconut yogurt
- Scrambled tofu instead of eggs
- Black beans with oven baked potato fries, guacamole, salad, a fruity salsa and fresh corn on the cob
- Grilled Portobello mushrooms in burgers or as a side dish - these have a very meaty texture
- Falafel made into balls or burger patties
- Marinated tofu (I use Japanese rice wine vinegar, tamari, spring onions, garlic & ginger) in sushi or salads
- Hummus - make it yourself so it's not full of rancid oils, and add it to pretty much anything for extra protein flavor and taste
- Toasted seeds - I use a mix of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin and add them to salads
- Hemp seeds - add these to anything, they taste amazing and are super high in protein
- Veggie burgers - there are a ton of great recipes online but I usually just make them up according to what I have in the cupboard. My last recipe was black beans, potato starch
- Steamed edamame as an entree or a side dish, or deshelled over a salad
Here's a recipe I made this week that is packed with protein. All these ingredients are also super cheap and it was a winner with the whole household!
Turkish Red Lentils
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 tablespoons vegetable stock powder
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used hot)
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Soak 1 cup red lentils for 2+ hours (or overnight) then drain. If you don't have time for this step, just rinse them well in a colander before using - they will just take a little longer to cook. Put all the ingredients into a pot and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature and cook for approximately 40 minutes or until lentils are soft.
Serve with rice, roughly chopped coriander, baby tomatoes and coconut yogurt