Nowadays, people are following a vegetarian or vegan diet. They do not want to consume animal-based food products. When you switched on to full-fledged vegetarian diet then main concern arises is, from where you get vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients.
However, as far as protein is concerned, there are many plant-based protein sources are available for vegetarian and vegan diets. (1)
Although, you do not get certain essential vitamins and minerals if you are not taking meat. So one has to plan accordingly, whether his/her body gets ample iron, vitamin b12, calcium, etc.
In this article, we will see the best plant-based protein source.
Tofu is made from Soybeans.
Tofu is tasteless, but it goes easily with any ingredient it prepared with. It is a good substitute for meat and chicken.
Approximately, it contains 10-20 gram of protein per 100 gms. (2)
Lentils are a very good source of protein and fiber.
1 cup of lentils contains 18 gms of protein. (3)
There are many dishes you can prepare with lentils. In India, it is one of the major food sources.
It goes well, with dal, soup, salads, stew, rice, etc.
3. Chickpeas and other beans
Chickpeas and other beans like kidney and black beans contain a high amount of protein.
1 cup cooked kidney beans contain 15gms of protein. (4)
It can be prepared with Indian style or there are various recipes available online and, can be added to stews and curries.
Peanuts are a rich source of protein.
They contain 20 gms of protein per ½ cup.
Peanut butter is a very popular and easily available product. Peanut butter sandwich is one of the best protein-rich breakfast/snacks. In India, roasted peanuts are very popular.
5. Amaranth(Rajgira) and Quinoa
Amaranth and quinoa contain 8 gms of protein per 1 cup.
They are also a good source of iron, manganese, phosphorus, and iron. (5)
They are easily available online.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are considered superfood. It contains high omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds are also a good source of protein. It contains 6 gms of protein per 40 gms. (6)
They have water absorbing quality and they are widely used in shakes and other recipes and easily available online.
7. Soy Milk
Soy milk is made from soybeans and it is a great alternative to conventional milk.
It contains as high as 8 gms of protein per cup serving. (7)
It is easily available in the market and widely used in different recipes.
Spirulina is a protein powerhouse It is high in protein. Although it is not so popular in India. There are various supplements available online.
Plant Vs Animal protein
Our body can not produce all the protein (amino acids), and to fulfill the need we must rely on food such as meat, soya, eggs tofu, etc. Animal protein is complete protein means they contain all the amino acids. While some of the plant-based sources like soybeans and quinoa are a complete protein.
Research also shows that plant-based protein intake results in less weight gain. But a person who consumes more animal protein leads to overweight. (8)
However, American dietic association takes the position that planned vegetarian and vegan diet may provide health benefits in a certain disease and appropriate during all stage of the life cycle. (9), (10)
If you think of going vegan or vegetarian diet, then it needs planning. Plant-based protein intake helps you live a healthy life and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
It is always a good idea to discuss your meal plan with your doctor/dietician and plan a balanced diet accordingly.