Previously we took a look at how to makeover recipes that include dairy to fit a vegan diet. In this post we will focus on vegan sources of protein and how to make easy swaps. So, where do you get your protein? A common question that every vegan gets at some point in their lives and honestly one of the easiest to answer. There are so many options for vegan sources of protein from beans and legumes to soy products to seitan to nuts. Once you become familiar with vegan sources of protein it is just a matter of figuring which are the best substitutes for what you are making.
Vegan Sources of Protein:
- Whole Grains. Whole grains are a beneficial source of protein with five to nine grams per serving. Great sources are quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, whole grain breads and whole grain pastas. Although a great source of protein whole grains do not lend themselves to work well as a direct substitute for animal sources of protein.
- Beans & Legumes. This is one of the top sources of vegetarian protein with up to 18 grams of protein per serving. The top choices are lentils, black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. Chickpeas are a great swap out of tuna in a tuna salad sandwich or for chicken in chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie, they have a great flavor and texture that works well as a swap.
- Tofu & Soy products.Soy products including tofu and tempeh are great sources of protein. One cup of tempeh can have up to 41 grams of protein and four ounces of firm tofu up to 11 grams of protein. Although great sources of protein it is important to chose quality organic, non-GMO’d sources of soy products. Tofu, tempeh and other soy products are some of the post popular items to use to replace animal proteins in dishes. Tofu can easily be substituted in a stir fry for meat or it can be marinated and grilled, baked or sauteed. Tempeh is another great swap out of animal proteins and you can even find tempeh bacon which is especially good in recipes that call for bacon. Both tempeh and tofu are also great basis for veggie burgers an obvious great swap for your regular red meat or turkey burger. Other soy products such as Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) are often used to make veggie ground round, which is a great swap in Italian meat sauces, tacos or burritos.
- Nuts & Seeds. Nuts and seeds are filled with protein and can be used as nut/seed butters or can be found as protein powders like Tempt Hemp Protein Powder (13 grams of protein per serving). In their whole form or butter form nuts and seeds can have five to nine grams of protein per serving. When choosing a nut/seed butter find one with no added sugars and preferably organic. Nuts and Seeds like whole grains are a great source of protein but do not lend themselves well for direct swap outs for animal proteins.
- Seitan.Seitan is made of wheat gluten flour and can easily be made at home or found in many natural food stores in either the freezer or cooler section. It has a similar look and texture of meat and is very high in protein. Seitan is used as the basis of many commercial products including veggie sausages, deli meats and burgers. Seitan is one of the most versatile vegan protein options. That being said you can find it used to make any type of faux meat product you are looking for, you can even find faux seafood! For those transitioning from an omnivore diet to a vegan one seitan and packaged commercial products made with wheat gluten are the best options for transitioning as the flavor and texture are going to be most familiar. Simply pick your favorite recipe and either your seitan or other product and swap them out making minor changes to cook time (seitan and the like take less time to cook). Example: Spaghetti and faux meatballs- cook you sauce and spaghetti as you would normally and cook the faux meatballs (found in the freezer section) according to package directions. Toss the meatballs with the sauce and spoon over the spaghetti. Easy as that you have one of your favorite comfort foods veganized in a matter of minutes.
As time goes on and you try new recipes and the various vegan protein options you will learn which ones you like the most and what work best for you. The best tip is to start slow and easy with more commercial products and incorporate less processed options such as tempeh and tofu in as you go along and feel more comfortable.
- 2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp vegan chicken broth powder or vegetable broth powder
- 2 tbsp granulated onion
- 1 tbsp fennel seed
- 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground paprika
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes, optional
- 1 tsp ground smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 2 1/4 cups cool water*
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk together the water, garlic, olive oil and soy sauce and using a fork, gently stir into the dry ingredients. Stir just until ingredients are mixed. If dough mixture is too dry, you can add another tablespoon of water or as needed.
- Scoop 1/2 cup dough mixture at a time and shape into logs. Place logs on piece of aluminum foil and roll up, twisting ends. Place sausages in steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Eat immediately or allow to cool. Once cooled remove from foil and refrigerate until ready to eat.