In the 13 years that I’ve followed a vegan diet, the question most commonly asked of me has been, “where do you get your protein?” Meat-eaters, vegans, and aspiring raw foodists alike, all seem to ask that question. There is a lot of disagreement and controversy surrounding what kinds of proteins are best and how much protein individuals require. For an interesting discussion on protein and the benefits of eating essential amino acids from plant sources versus whole proteins from animal sources, I highly recommend the book Green for Life, by Victoria Boutenko. This is a list of protein sources that have worked well for me. I usually include 2 or 3 of these foods in my diet every day.
- Green smoothies: Not only are leafy greens very high in all the essential amino acids that form complete proteins, but they are also excellent sources of other nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, K, calcium, and fiber. They are also very cleansing to the body. It helps to have a high power blender like a Vita-Mix or K-Tec, but even a regular cheap blender will do the job if you chop the greens and fruit well before blending.
- Cooked whole grains: Quinoa and amaranth are great protein sources and are alkaline-forming grains. Acidic diets promote disease, while alkaline diets promote health. Just 1 cup (after cooking) of quinoa has 8 grams of protein. Amaranth is even higher. I enjoy amaranth for breakfast, cooked with banana slices. Wild rice is also a good source of protein, but not quite as good as quinoa.
- Sprouted grains: I haven’t quite gotten into a regular habit of sprouting grains, but I have tried some sprouted grain breads such as Manna Bread, which makes for a tasty, filling, nutrient-dense treat that is high in protein and fiber. Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain products, including breads and pastas, can be found in most natural food stores. I often make porridge out of soaked oat groats, which have 6 grams of protein per 1/4 cup (before soaking).
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds provide significant amounts of protein, but since they are also high in fat, they can weigh you down if you rely on them for protein. Pumpkin seeds are a better choice because they are also high in iron, copper, magnesium, and some other minerals. About 1/5 cup has more protein than a serving of wild rice. Almonds are a good protein source as well.
Before becoming more health conscious, most of my protein came from processed fake meats and soy products. Beans are another common vegan protein source, but most are difficult to digest and contain a lot of toxins. It’s not hard to find adequate vegan protein sources, but if you’re trying to improve your health, steer away from the processed foods and beans and give some of these ideas a try.