These days, protein isn't that hard to add to your diet when you're a vegetarian or vegan, in fact, with so many meat substitutes and other sources of protein, some may say it's quite easy. However, one dietitian argues, sometimes vegans still don't get enough.
"I find that not all vegans focus on adding concentrated sources of protein to each meal," says Vancouver-based register dietitian Desiree Nielsen. "Particularly common in those new to the diet, this oversight can leave you feeling unsatisfied after a meal and lead to overeating starchy foods."
For vegans, protein can be found in everything from grains like quinoa to green veggies to different types of nuts. But not all proteins are made equal and not all so-called superfoods are good sources.
"I have also surprised clients to tell them that vegetables don’t generally contain that much protein. One client was eating a whole avocado a day thinking it contained protein – it contains just four grams," Nielsen says, adding that kale only has two grams per cup.
So how much protein do vegans need? A good rule of thumb for protein intake is to take your weight (in pounds) and divide by two to find the number of grams of protein you need daily, Nielsen says. "So, a moderately active 140 lb woman would need roughly 70 grams of protein a day."
One key takeaway she adds is that for vegans in particular, and for anyone who wants to eat a protein-rich diet, make sure you are spreading your intake throughout the day.
"One of the powers of protein is in increasing satiety and helping to stabilize blood sugars, meaning that it should be a part of every single meal to ensure steady energy levels and keep hunger at bay," she notes. If you're someone who is highly active or training for an athletic event, you might need more.
Below, Nielsen lists the best protein options for vegans (and vegetarians) that are also gluten-free. On top off all the nutritional benefits, she also shows us how to eat each one. Let us know, how do you get your vegan source of protein?