The question that every vegan hears most often is "Where do you get your protein from?" After all, most people get most of their protein from animal sources: meat, eggs, milk, etc. So for them, this is a natural concern.
There are many protein source. Some you may know and some may come as a surprise to you. A recent article (writing by an omnivore) about the perceived difficulties of maintaining a vegan diet in the UK Telegraph touched on this question.
There are two areas that vegans pay special attention to - namely protein and essential fats. Protein food consists of amino acids, 22 of them to be precise (there are 24 listed in the US). The human body takes specific amino acids and combines them in various pairings - these base amino acids have to be there for this to happen and so are known as 'essential amino acids'. Without all 14 it is possible that protein levels will be lacking and some of the functions of protein can be affected. As animal products contain all 14 they are known as a 'complete' protein. Not all vegan sources of protein do contain all 14 but that's easily remedied by eating more than one source of protein with each meal. Inevitably the result is that all 14 essential aminos will be digested at once. Luckily there are several complete protein sources that will suit a vegan - quinoa, beans, nuts, tofu and chickpeas for example.
Lots of foods contain protein, not just meat from animals. Kale for instance is a great source. You can get almost three grams of protein per cup, so eat up! I often throw a healthy handful of kale into my morning breakfast shake. Here are several recommended sources of protein for vegans from Mens Health:
Half a cup of canned black beans have just 110 calories and one gram of fat, but they have seven grams of protein. Kaufman suggests, "Utilize perfect protein combinations, such as beans and rice." Combining the beans with rice or corn will give you the amino acids you get from animal proteins, but most plant-based proteins lack.
A quarter cup of uncooked quinoa (which fluffs up to about a cup when cooked) has 170 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and seven grams of protein. Plus, "this is the only grain known to be a complete protein—containing all essential amino acids," Kaufman explains. While beans need to be combined with other foods to become a perfect protein, quinoa actually contains all the nutrients you would get from eating meat.
Another vegetarian standard, tofu, which is made from soybeans, has just 94 calories, five grams of fat and 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving. "Tofu can be found in many different forms and is best used for its ability to soak up different flavors," Kaufman says.
"Change up your tofu routine and try tempeh," Kaufman suggests. "It's a versatile firm textured cooked soybean that is also a complete protein," like quinoa. A half-cup has 160 calories and a whopping 15 grams of protein, but it's a bit high in fat with nine grams.
Although people shy away from these calorie and fat dense snacks, nuts are packed with nutrients, fiber and protein (almonds have six grams per one-ounce serving). And despite their high calorie content, eating nuts actually helps you lose weight. Kaufman suggests spproaching them are more than just snacks. "Try using toasted almonds or cashews in an Asian stir fry or ground almonds as a paste to place on top of any entrees."
Not to bee too redundant, but here's 14 sources according to Health.com
Green peas: Foods in the legume family are good sources of vegetarian protein, and peas are no exception: One cup contains 7.9 grams—about the same as a cup of milk. (For the record, women should get about 46 grams of protein per day, and men need about 56.)
Quinoa: Foods in the legume family are good sources of vegetarian protein, and peas are no exception: One cup contains 7.9 grams—about the same as a cup of milk.
Nuts & Butters: (my personal favorites) All nuts contain both healthy fats and protein, making them a valuable part of a plant-based diet. But because they are high in calories—almonds, cashews, and pistachios for example, all contain 160 calories and 5 or 6 grams of protein per ounce—choose varieties that are raw or dry roasted.
Beans: (interesting tidbits about protein as compared to a Big Mac) There are many different varieties of beans—black, white, pinto, heirloom, etc.—but one thing they all have in common is their high amounts of protein. Two cups of kidney beans, for example, contain about 26 grams (almost the same as a Big Mac, which has 25 grams!). And you don't have to make beans from scratch to reap their nutritional benefits, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, author of Doctor's Detox Diet. "If you want to buy them dried and soak them overnight before you cook them, that's fine," she says. "But it's also perfectly okay—and much easier—to buy them canned, rinse them, and heat them up over the stove."
Garbanzos: (I LOVE hummus) Also known as garbanzo beans, these legumes can be tossed into salads, fried and salted as a crispy snack, or pureed into a hummus. They contain 7.3 grams of protein in just half a cup, and are also high in fiber and low in calories. "You can make a really great meal with some whole-wheat flatbread, some veggies, and some homemade hummus," says Gerbstadt. "Just toss a can of chickpeas in the blender with some herbs and some tahini or walnut oil and you're good to go."
Tofu & Tempeh: (I'm not the biggest fan of tempeh, but I try to find interesting ways to incorporate it) Foods made from soybeans are some of the highest vegetarian sources of protein: Tempeh and tofu, for example, contain about 15 and 20 grams per half cup, respectively.
Edemame: (My snack food of choice while watching football games) Not crazy about meat substitutes? Get your servings of soy the way it appears in nature: Straight from the soybean, still in the pod. Boiled edamame, which contains 8.4 grams of protein per half cup, can be served hot or cold and sprinkled with salt. Try it as a snack, an appetizer before dinner, or added to salads or pastas (minus the shell, of course.)
Leafy Greens: Vegetables don't have nearly as much protein as legumes and nuts, Gerbstadt says, but some do contain significant amounts—along with lots of antioxidants and heart-healthy fiber. "If someone is eating a lot of vegetables—and a wide variety of different types of vegetables—it will certainly add up to a good amount of amino acids," she adds. Two cups of raw spinach, for example, contain 2.1 grams of protein, and one cup of chopped broccoli contains 8.1 grams.
Hemp: (I add a scoopful into my morning shake every day) Adding hemp to your diet does not mean you're eating rope (or marijuana), says Gerbstadt; you can find it in some cereals and trail mixes, or you can buy hemp seeds (10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons) and add them to smoothies, pestos, or baked goods.
Chia Seeds: (I add pinch to our salad almost every day) These seeds—yes, from the same plant that's used to make Chia Pet products—are an easy way to add protein (4.7 grams per ounce, about two tablespoons) and fiber to almost any recipe: Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, stirred into yogurt or oatmeal, blended into smoothies, or they can take center stage: They plump up and take on a gelatinous texture when soaked in a liquid, forming a rich and creamy pudding-like treat.
Sunflower seeds and other seeds: (I eat them with raisins) These seeds—yes, from the same plant that's used to make Chia Pet products—are an easy way to add protein (4.7 grams per ounce, about two tablespoons) and fiber to almost any recipe: Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, stirred into yogurt or oatmeal, blended into smoothies, or they can take center stage: They plump up and take on a gelatinous texture when soaked in a liquid, forming a rich and creamy pudding-like treat.
Seitan: (We eat our share of mock meats, like those from Gardein and Trader Joes has been creating their own version) Another meat substitute popular with vegetarians, seitan is made from wheat gluten, seasoned with salt and savory flavors and loaded with protein—36 grams per half cup, more than either tofu or tempeh. It looks like duck meat and tastes like chicken, and can be used in any recipe that calls for poultry.
Non-dairy milk: (We just wrote about flax milk the other day. My personal favs are almond and oat, but they're all pretty good) Milk alternatives aren't just for the lactose intolerant: They can be great additions to any diet; just watch out for lots of added sugar and flavors. (Plain soy milk, for example, contains about 100 calories per cup—comparable to skim milk's 80 calories—but the flavored varieties can contain much more.) Soy milk has the most protein, at 4 to 8 grams per 8 ounces, but almond, hemp, and rice milk also contain about 1 gram per cup.
Unsweetened cocoa powder: (Protein from chocolate!) Bet you didn't know you can get protein from chocolate! Unsweetened cocoa powder—the type used in baking or making hot chocolate from scratch—contains about 1 gram of protein per tablespoon. The powder is bitter all by itself, however, so most recipes call for lots of sugar and fat (usually butter or other dairy), as well. Stick with nonfat (or almond milk) and choose calorie-free sweeteners for a healthy, low-cal hot cocoa, or add it to air-popped popcorn (along with sugar, allspice, and cayenne pepper) for a sweet and spicy whole-grain treat
sources: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/article/TMG10505365/What-To-Eat-Now-a-vegan-diet-but-only-with-dedication.html, http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/5-sources-of-vegan-protein, http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20718479,00.html