The Ultimate Vegan Protein Guide: The No-B.S. Guide to Vegan Protein

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INTRODUCTION: 

Protein is one of the three macronutrients we consume everyday apart from fat and carbohydrates.
It not only helps you build muscle after a workout, but also balances fluids, creates vital hormones and enzymes, and bolsters your immune system.
Protein has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the health and fitness industry boom.

Vegan protein is simply protein derived from plant-based sources, such as pea, rice, and soy proteins.

Since it can be tricky to get enough protein into a plant-based diet, vegan protein shakes are a highly convenient and popular way of getting a protein boost - important for supporting your muscles through gym training.

Unlike super-popular whey protein, vegan protein shakes are not derived from cow's milk.

Instead, they are sourced from various beans and plants which are naturally high in protein.

This means that vegan protein retains the protein value of traditional supplements while being easier on your stomach than whey-based vegan proteins!

But does vegan protein actually deliver the goods when it comes to enhanced gym performance, recovery and growth? A vegan protein powder certainly has its place in vegan supplementation.

A U.S. survey by the International Food Information Council, found that 28 percent of people reported eating more protein from plant sources between 2019 and 2020.

This article is an informed protein guide for vegans, highlighting specifics such as what is a good protein for vegans and to answer ‘how do vegans get enough protein?’.

What is Vegan Protein? (+ Why Do We Need It?)

Vegan protein is defined as protein that comes from plants, and not from animal products including milk.

Vegan protein sources include tofu, tempeh, seitan, nuts, seeds, certain grains, peas, Ezekiel bread, beans and many others.

Your fibre intake is often low if you mostly eat non-vegetarian foods. It is possible to increase your fibre intake by eating more plant proteins.

Did you know that all our vegan protein powder products (vegan protein powder guide) are excellent sources of not only clean protein but also fibre?

Protein is not only a component of our bones and muscles, but also an essential nutrient responsible for growth, repair, fighting infection, and carrying oxygen in our body.

Why Do We Need Protein?

A healthy diet should include protein. Proteins are composed of chemical building blocks called amino acids.

Amino acids are used by the body to build and repair bones and muscles, and to create hormones and enzymes. They can also be used as an energy source.

Additionally, protein helps make antibodies that fight off infections and illnesses, keeping cells healthy and creating new ones.   

Protein is used to build and maintain muscles, collagen, skin, hair, nails, hormones and haemoglobin.

A diet which is poor in protein can lead to health issues and muscle loss.

How much protein is enough?

How much protein you should take everyday varies person to person. It depends on your activity level, sex, age, health status and what sort of muscle mass you want to achieve.

The minimum recommended dose per day for an average adult is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight.

Please, check this link for full details: Medical News Today

Age and sex: Total RDA in grams (g) per day

Babies and children

  • 0 – 6 months 9.1
  • 6 – 12 months 11
  • 1 – 3 years 13
  • 4 – 8 years 19

Males

  • 9 – 13 years 34
  • 14 – 18 years 52
  • 19 – 70 years and older 56

Females

  • 9 – 13 years 34
  • 14 – 70 years and older 46

Pregnant or lactating people

  • Any age 71

Where do vegans get their protein?

If you are a vegan or considering becoming one, chances are you have been asked "Where do I get my protein?".

This would be a reasonable question to ask someone who does not eat animals.

Truth is, we have been taught throughout our lives that eating meats is the only way to get enough protein. But, it is false.

You can get your fair share of protein from plant sources.

We believe that knowing where you can find plant-based protein is a key step to ensuring you have enough, so we created this list to help you.

It's free to share with anyone who is concerned about protein intake.

You can get the right amount protein for your body by eating the foods listed below.

Vegan Protein Sources

So, what is a good protein for vegans? A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they might lack sufficient protein.

However, a well-planned vegan or vegetarian diet that is also low in added sugars can give you all the nutrients you require. There's no dearth of plant-based protein in the nature.

We've seen all those plant-eating horses, zebras, elephants, and rhinos with their muscle mass. People never ask them the question,"Where do you get your protein from?"

Protein is everywhere - in the vegetables and greens we eat every day. Of course, some plant foods have significantly higher levels of protein than others.

We are going to discuss some of the popular vegan protein sources below. 

1. Tofu:

Tofu is made from soya. It is protein-rich and 100g of it contains 8g of protein. Tofu is so versatile it can be used in many different ways. You can bake it or stir-fry it, and you can also blend it into soups to make them creamier.

Here's a list of some of the delicious vegan tofu recipes:


2. Tempeh

Tempeh originated in Indonesia. It is made from fermented soybeans, which have been shaped into blocks. However, tempeh can also be purchased in stores that contain additional beans or grains. It is well-known for its high protein content but it also offers many other health benefits.

Here's a list of some delicious tempeh recipes:

3. Seitan

Seitan is made entirely from hydrated gluten. This protein is the main one found in wheat. Sometimes it is called wheat meat. To make seitan, you need to knead wheat flour with water in order to create sticky strands.

Seitan has a savory flavor that is similar to bland chicken or portobello mushrooms. Seitan is mild in flavor, but can be adapted to many different flavors by using different recipes. You can make it spicy like seitan chicken wings or savory in Thai or Indian massaman curry. Here's some Seitan recipes to relish:


4. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is a high-fiber, high-protein meat substitute made from soy flour. It is free of cholesterol and fat. TVP comes in many flavors, including unflavored. It also comes in different sizes: from large chunks to small flakes. It is affordable and readily available so it is a popular choice for those who cook on a tight budget. Here's some vegetarian or vegan recipes with textured vegetable protein:


5. Beans and Other Legumes

Beans and legumes are rich in protein. The popular protein-rich legumes and beans include soybeans and white beans, lentils and cranberry and split peas. Pinto beans, pea nuts, lima, navy beans, kidney beans and black beans are also full of protein.

List of vegan recipes using Beans and Legumes:


6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide good sources of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals. Because their fats aren't fully absorbed by the body, they help regulate our food intake and burn energy. Their unsaturated fats protect us against heart disease. 

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume a minimum of 30g of nuts per week.


7. Grains

Grains can be easily incorporated into your daily diet as they are a good source of protein.

A healthy, protein-rich combination of lentils with wheat flour can create a delicious and nutritious meal. Here's some of the grains with the amount of protein per cup:

  • Whole wheat pasta. 7.6g protein per cup, cooked.
  • Couscous. 6g protein per cup, cooked.
  • Oatmeal. 6g protein per cup, cooked.
  • Spelt flour. 15g protein per cup, raw flour.
  • Buckwheat. 5.7g protein per cup, cooked.
  • Quinoa. 8g protein per cup, cooked
  • Kamut. 9.82g protein per cup, cooked.

Plant Protein vs. Animal Protein

Your body does not store protein so it is important to eat enough each day.

Protein can be obtained from many sources, including animals and plants.

Some people believe that it doesn't matter what source the protein comes from, be it animal or plant. Some others believe that plant protein is better than animal protein.

There are approximately 20 amino acids total that the human body uses make proteins. These amino acid profiles can be classified as essential or non-essential.

Your body can produce non-essential amino acids. It cannot however produce essential amino acids on its own. These must be obtained from your diet.

The protein found in animal protein sources such as meat, fish and poultry are considered to be complete because they are rich in all the essential amino acids your body requires to function properly.

Plant protein sources such as Beans, Lentils and nuts are both considered to be nutritious but incomplete as they may not have the necessary amino acids your body requires.

Benefits of Plant Protein:

Many health benefits are associated with plant protein.

Research suggests that vegetarians have lower body weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. They also have a lower risk of stroke, cancer and death from heart disease than non-vegetarians. Here's some of the benefits of Plant Protein:

Weight loss and maintenance

You may be able to control your weight by eating a diet high in plant protein.

A study of 120,000 people over 20 years showed that eating more nuts is linked to weight loss.

Also, eating one serving of beans, chickpeas, lentils or peas per day can increase fullness and may lead to better weight management and weight loss.

Lower risk of type 2 diabetes

A review of studies found that vegetarian or vegan diets are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Vegan diets may also be helpful for managing type 2 diabetes. They may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Lower risk of heart disease

A study found that a diet rich in protein (about half from plants) lowered blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease more than a standard diet or a healthy high-carb diet.

More Phytonutrients

Plant-based protein gives you more phytonutrients such as vitamins and minerals quickly. Phytonutrients in plants support health and well-being.

These nutrients can be absorbed much more easily from plants than any other sources.

Benefits of Animal Protein:

If animal protein comes from better sources such as fish or low fat organic poultry/meat, you can get great health benefits from it. You will get the following benefits:

  • Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Reduced risk chance of developing heart diseases
  • Reduced risk of colorectal, stomach, pancreatic and prostate cancers
  • Control over weight management

Animal protein is called Whey, and is derived from cow's milk, which contains lactose. Plant protein are lactose-free and vegan friendly.

Animal protein is a popular choice because of its high leucine and fast digestion. Animal protein contains all the essential amino acids needed to support muscle recovery and synthesis.

With plant protein, you will need to combine at least 2 plant sources to get all the 9 essential proteins, which is not a difficult task at all.

In fact, most plant protein these days are a blend of brown rice protein and pea protein.


Here's a chart comparing the animal and plant proteins:

Vegan Protein Chart Vs Meat

Whey Plant Protein

Lactose free/vegan friendly: No/Yes

Complete Protein: No/No (except soy or specific mixes)

Provides 20-30g of protein per scoop: Yes/Sometimes

Helps build muscle: Yes/Yes

Supports Weight loss: Yes/Yes

Cost Depends on brand/Depends on brand


As a Vegan, How Do I Get Enough Protein If I Am Allergic to Soy?

You might think it's going to be difficult to be vegan if you have developed soy allergies. There are many vegan options that don't contain soy.

They are equally nutritious and offer the same taste without compromising on flavor. Here's a list of some them:

1. Seitan.

2. Legumes.

3. Nuts and Seeds.

4. Plant Milks.

5. Condiments.

6. Jackfruit.


Vegan Protein FAQs

Which vegan protein has the most protein?

There are a number of protein-rich vegan foods which are easily integrated into your daily diet, some of which contain omega 3 fatty acids.

Foods such as lima beans, chia seeds, quinoa, lentils, green peas (protein isolates) and chickpeas are all very high in protein.

Lentils contain approximately 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, and are also a great source of fibre and vitamin c.

Seitan, a popular vegan meat alternative, contains approximately 25 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, making it very comparable to a steak. 

How can vegans get 50g protein a day?

Beans, legumes and whole grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds, all have enough protein to provide you 50g protein per day easily. You just need to combine a couple of these foods and you'll get all nine essential amino acids your body needs for the day.

For example, if you ate the following foods throughout the day, you would come close to 50g of protein which is a recommended daily dose by USDA.

Breakfast: 1 cup rolled oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter swirled in and 1 small banana = 15g

Lunch: A salad of 2 cups spinach, 1/2 cup chickpeas, and 1/4 cup feta (5 grams), plus 1 ounce roasted almonds = 20g

Dinner: 1 cup spaghetti with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan = 14g

A 100g protein vegan meal plan can also be achieved via a combination of plant-based foods.

 

How much protein do I need as a vegan?

A vegan is recommended to take 0.8g of protein per kg, or 0.36g per pound according to the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake).

This is a conservative estimate and equates to 56g per day for the average man, and 46g for the average female. This is not a hard rule, only a recommendation.

Based on your sex, age, health status, and level of physical activity - your requirements fluctuate.

 

What vegetable has the most protein?

You can find plenty of protein-rich veggies all year round. These options offer a wide variety of choices. Each one can be enjoyed as a side dish or combined with other recipes to make a satisfying main course.

Remember that protein content can change depending on how each vegetable is prepared. These values correspond to the cooking methods for each food.

Here are the top 3 vegetables that have most protein.

1. Edamame has 18.46g of protein per cup when prepared from frozen. It is rich in healthy plant protein, vitamins and minerals.

2. Pinto beans gives you 15.41g of protein per cup (boiled from dry). They are very popular in Mexican cuisine and used in burritos or as a salad topping, soups, or as a side dish. Use dried pinto beans to cook rather than canned ones for better health benefits.

3. Chick Peas give you 14.53g of protein per cup (boiled from dry). They are a main ingredient in hummus. They are versatile and can be used in many dishes because of their subtle, nutty flavour. Roasted chickpeas are great for snacking or as a main ingredient in soups, curries, and vegetable bowls.

 

What vegan food is high in protein?

Understanding what is high in protein for vegans is very important for day-to-day life.

Plant-based vegan proteins include seitan, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, almonds, chia seeds, soy milk, quinoa and spirulina.

Not only are many of the sources high in protein, but many contain the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need.

For more detail about protein-rich vegan sources, click here.

 

How much protein do you really need to build muscle as a vegan?

There’s no question that nutrition is a key component of muscular development.

A commonly asked question is ‘how much protein do vegans need to build muscle?’.

The answer is individual, however filling up on high-protein foods such as seitan, legumes, tofu and quinoa will assist you in maximising your muscle gains.

As a guide, it is suggested that for optimal muscle growth to occur, protein intake should be around 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

Quality vegan protein powders can also assist you in meeting your daily protein needs.

Vegan protein powder is derived from plant-based vegan protein sources such as pea protein, soy protein and hemp protein.

Our range of vegan protein powders have been specifically designed to assist you on your journey to build strength and muscle.        

 

What the experts say about plant-based protein needs

Research has shown that a plant-based diet could play a part in cancer prevention, weight loss, type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Whilst there are some commonly discussed disadvantages of plant protein, ensuring you understand daily intakes for your individual body assists you on staying healthy and reaching your goals.

As with any diet, the key is moderation along with ensuring your body is being fueled with the right amount of nutrients for your lifestyle.

Click here to download a PDF of a complete list of the protein content of vegan protein foods.


Summary

It is very personal to choose a source of protein powder - plant-based or animal based.

You don't have to give up whey protein powder if you already use it and enjoy it and vice-versa.

However, if you find yourself experiencing stomach issues or wish to try a non-whey option, there are many plant-based protein powders that can also give you great results. It is best to choose a product that has more than one source of protein.

The best vegan protein powder is the one that you can eat and has between 20-30 grams of protein per cup.

There are a number of benefits of vegan protein powder including supplying your body with the essential amino acids for protein synthesis, assisting with both muscle growth and repair.

At Healthyroo, we are passionate about ensuring our products offer you some of the best vegan protein powder available.

Our extensive range of plant based vegan protein blends across our website.

From lifestyle products such as our Lifestyle Package to Performance Proteins, our range of vegan protein powders are ready to make a difference in your life today!