A persistent rise in people following vegetarian and vegan, or plant-based diets, still raises the eternal question of how best to reach a recommended daily intake of protein without any, or limited, animal products.
It is absolutely possible to achieve a healthy diet containing all the nutritional requirements without sourcing foods from animals.
This is a guide to recommend healthy, plant-based ingredients that will provide you with a good level of protein in your diet whether you are vegetarian or not. The recommended daily intake of protein amounts to 0.8g per kg of personal bodyweight – so at 60kg you would aim for 4.8 g of protein per day.
Anything predominantly made of soy beans such as Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame beans are a great source as they are high in protein – you must be careful as to the quality of the product, the most reliable here being the edamame bean as it is simply a plant and not processed. Half a cup of podded beans contains around 8.5g of protein. Simply steam or boil them in their pods and add some sea salt to eat as a side dish or snack. Add the actual beans to any stir fry or vegetable dish to boost the protein levels.
This versatile and easy-to-use legume contains a high level of protein at 8.8g per half a cup. Many traditional meat dishes can swap out the animal product for lentils to provide the same flavours and favourites whilst maintaining a vegetarian diet.
Another essential legume for a healthy diet, cooked chickpeas are high in protein, containing around 7g per half a cup.There are endless chick pea recipes out there, so much so that there can’t possibly be a taste bud they couldn’t satisfy one way or another! Soups, stews, curries, salads, whizzed into hummus, roasted, the list is endless.
Protein rich little nuggets of goodness, nuts are the snack of the century when it comes to providing us with plenty of protein. Peanuts and almonds especially as they offer between 16-20g of protein per half a cup. As well as being high in protein they also contain healthy or ‘good’ fats. Add them to your salads, blend to make nut butters, or just eat them straight as they come.
This versatile super-grain will deliver a good dose of protein at 8g per cup as well as magnesium, iron and fibre. Add it to soups, salads, stews, bakes, use as a couscous alternative, or as a base for vegetarian burgers or patties.
Both chia and hemp seeds are whole proteins and come high on the list of protein providers, at roughly 5g per tablespoon, as well as being rich in fibre and omega-3s. They are low in fat and really help to up your game in the smoothie department, as well as being a simple addition to salads, yoghurt, dessert, or try soaking chia seeds in your favourite plant milk or fruit juice overnight to make a delicious breakfast or pudding to top with fresh fruits.
Not promoted so much these days due to their high carbohydrate content, but the humble potato – namely a whole baked one – will actually provide us with 8g of protein. For a meal keep the toppings low in fat, high in fibre and add some vegetables and leafy greens on the side and you’ve got a wholesome healthy dinner.
Leafy greens are a good source of protein and an essential part of a healthy diet, alone they cannot meet our daily protein needs but combined and added to other protein rich ingredients they can make up a healthy diet.
All of the above are dietary suggestions, if you are approaching a change in diet please consult your nutritionist or doctor beforehand.
Please note: We are in no way promoting that anyone should go and over-purchase or bulk buy any of these items during lockdown, nor overeat any of these individual products. There should be a gradual shift if you are thinking of changing your eating habits and you must vary between all types for a balanced diet.
Online diploma courses in Nutrition
Become a nutritional therapist, add nutrition to your portfolio of services or just increase your knowledge in all areas of nutrition and apply it to your life!
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer eight courses in nutrition – click on the title of any course for more information and to enrol:
- Child & Adolescent Nutrition
- Ethical & Sustainable Eating
- Clinical Nutrition
- Advanced Nutrition
- Nutrition for Age 50 Plus
- Plant-Based Nutrition
- Sport & Exercise Nutrition
- Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition