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Getting Your Vegan Protein
By Jade Ellis
As a vegan or vegetarian there is always that question that people want to know – where do you get your protein? There are a number of vegan sources of protein that will keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day and also fuel your exercise regimes!
We cannot deny that protein is important to our health, our workouts and recovery, and our brain function. Without it, we wouldn’t function at our best and our bodies wouldn’t be able to support us. The majority of people view protein as something we can only obtain through animals. Regardless of different opinions about meat being a part of our diets, we cannot ignore the fact that meat consumption is causing major environmental, health and humanitarian problems. To live a healthier and more sustainable life, it seems that consuming plants may be the way forward!
HIGH VEGAN PROTEIN MEALS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE
A great way to get more vegan and vegetarian protein is through beans and legumes. Lentils are a great plant based protein. They are high in fibre and relatively quick and easy to prepare, when compared to other dried beans. Their low cost makes them an accessible form of high quality protein for many people around the world. One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein! Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like lentils decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall morality while promoting healthy hair and complexion, and also an increased energy.
A staple in Indian food is lentil dahl. Dahl is a thick lentil stew cooked with spices traditionally eaten in southern India. A nutrient rich dish, extremely high in protein but without having to worry about the saturated fat found in most animal based protein. A simple, but extremely nourishing comfort food, perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Moroccan culture has brought us hummus – made from chickpeas and tahini. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans are an excellent source of protein, containing 7.3 grams in just half a cup. Chickpeas are also low in calories and very high in fibre. Homemade hummus is so simple to get right – just toss a can of chickpeas in to a blender with some garlic, salt and tahini and you’re good to go. Chickpeas are extremely versatile in the kitchen. You can eat them hot or cold, canned or dried. You can roast chickpeas and add them to salads, or turn them into a simple snack. Chickpeas can also act as a replacement for a tuna or egg sandwich. By mashing the chickpeas, you can create a varied consistency. Also adding other ingredients such as vegan mayo (or tahini), red onion, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper, you can create a new version of a classic lunch time meal. This sandwich is protein packed and filled with nutrients that will keep you satisfied and keep you going until dinner.
ASIA – CHINA AND JAPAN
Tempeh, Tofu and Edamame are made from soybeans, a complete source of protein. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs. Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption and can be eaten on their own or added to soups and salads. Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheese making. Tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soy beans prior to pressing them into a patty. These products are one of the highest sources of protein, containing around 15 to 20 grams per half cup.
Tofu and Tempeh are a popular component in ramen and rice dishes. The great thing about tofu and tempeh is that they can take on the taste and texture of what type of food you are looking for. You can change the taste by adding your own spices, and change the texture through your way of cooking, such as frying, or baking. A popular take on a vegan version of scrambled eggs is ‘tofu scramble.’ Just mash a block of soft tofu and sauté in a pan with some coconut oil, and flavour with garlic, cumin or turmeric to add the yellow tone so the tofu resembles eggs. Serve with some whole wheat toast and avocado. This dish can replace an old breakfast tradition and become a new favourite.
Algae Superfoods are fast growing in popularity at the moment. Until recently vegetarians and vegans who wanted to supplement with omega-3 fats had few options more than flaxseed. These didn’t provide omega 3 fats known as EPA and DHA found only in oily fish and not made by the body, hence their name: essential fatty acids. Algae on the other hand, is rich in these substances making it a great option for those who avoid animal products. A way of getting it into your diet is through Algal oil which is derived directly from algae. Also in the Algae family – the infamous ‘Spirulina.’ In a powder form, Spirulina can be added to your morning smoothie or juice and provides more protein than any other food. ‘Spirulina Nice Cream’ is a version of vegan ice cream using frozen bananas blended with a tablespoon of spirulina. You can add vanilla essence or coconut sugar and top with cocoa nibs to sweeten.
Just one tablespoon contains 150 percent of your daily B12 requirements – which is very important for vegetarians and vegans. Spirulina contains more chlorophyll than wheatgrass and is an amazing food for the brain, digestive system, heart, lungs, and liver. Fushi’s Organic Spirulina Capsules are a great addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet, and will give you a great whole food alternative to vitamins and minerals. Fushi’s Chlorella capsules are also a great nutrient dense superfood packed with chlorophyll. Alternatively, Fushi’s the Best Superfood Green blend encompasses a number of the algae’s and vitamins. Also, its protein profile is boosted by the added superfood grain Quinoa. This makes it the prefect choice for vegetarians and vegans.
VEGAN PROTEIN FOR WORKOUTS
There are numerous plant based protein powders out there. For vegetarians and vegans, hemp powder is an excellent source of protein. Hemp contains all of the 21 known amino acids, including the 9 sources that the body can’t produce on its own and must take from dietary sources. Just two tablespoons of hemp protein powder can provide around 13-15 grams of protein.
Hemp protein can easily be added into any pre workout smoothie or juice. Hemp oil can also be used is dishes to boost your protein intake. The oil can be used on salad dressings and marinades. Hemp sprouted seeds can also be used for salads, and sprinkled on soup. Fushi’s Hemp Seed Organic Oil Virgin 100ml cold pressed contains the most balanced and richest natural single source of Essential Fatty Acids. It is an ideal balance of Omega 3 and 6. Essential Fatty Acids are essential for maintaining good health, for hormonal balance, cardiovascular health and may even help with arthritis.