We’re often taught that some of the best sources of protein are meat and eggs. Many bodybuilding and muscle building diets encourage eating additional meals with high protein content. Conventionally this might mean a diet that involves consuming a lot of chicken as a key component of your meals. But what if your diet means you can’t eat meat or other animal products?
Getting the right amount of protein into your diet when living a vegan lifestyle might sound like an uphill battle, but thankfully it’s a lot easier than you might think.
Why do we need protein?
Protein is massively important to the human body, it’s what the body uses to repair itself. This is really important when bodybuilding or when you take part in any sort of fitness regime, because you are putting additional strain on your muscles through exercise.
Many fitness regimes call for a diet and nutrition programme that works to increase your protein in order to counterbalance the strain you’re putting your body under, helping to avoid damage, repair muscle and build muscle mass.
This might mean eating more frequently throughout the day, to help provide more energy, sticking to a strict nutrition plan or having protein shakes before or after a training session or taking additional protein supplements. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian and avoid some of the traditional sources of protein you might find that you struggle in finding the right ways to include additional protein in your diet. However, if you’re thinking of a fitness plan that needs you to pay more attention to what you’re eating, you should talk to your trainer or an expert at your gym to get the right advice before you get started.
Great vegan-friendly protein sources
As we’ve already mentioned, protein tends to be seen as coming from animal sources, meat, eggs etc., but thankfully for those whose diet is strictly plant based there are a range of other ways to take on more protein, including:
- Green veg (such as spinach)
These are packed with protein and give vegans a great source of nutrients to help maintain a healthy diet.
There are also a number of ways to increase the protein content of meals on the market, including a number of vegan friendly options. These include specific supplements, powders and vegan protein bars that can act as quick and easy ways to increase protein intake pre-or post-workout.
While protein bars can be used as a quick snack during the day, powders can also be used in a range of different ways to increase the protein value and overall nutritional content of different recipes. For example, substituting out a portion of the flour in a pizza dough recipe or cake mix for example can lead to a delicious treat, that’s got a hidden protein boost.
Or you could use the powder mixed with peanut butter, cocoa, and your choice of dried fruit and desiccated coconut to make some fantastic protein bites, which simply set in the fridge with no need to bake.
Versatility is really important, as having the same thing every day, purely as a means to ensure you get the right amount of protein, can get boring. This can stop you enjoying meals, which when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle for example can make sticking to a diet much more difficult.
If your diet is purely plant-based then finding ways of increasing your protein intake is important. Look for opportunities to introduce protein rich ingredients into meals, from adding firm tofu into a stir fry or adding lentils and beans to soups or pasta sauces. Making simple additions to your favourite meals can help lift their nutritional benefit and put new twists on your favourite dishes.