High-Protein Plant-Based Foods and How to Eat More of Them
Our last blog was all about protein powders and their types, and when one should consume them. In today's blog, I will impart information about various high protein vegetables and best veg for protein and dedicate it to the three people close to me who transitioned from meat to vegetarianism. The reason they all gave up on meat was Love, Transformation and Compassion
- My father being a meat eater in his early to mid-20s, transitioned in 1991 when he married my mother
- My best friend back in the United States, Ms Stephens, who from baconism turned to veganism in 2017 and turned her life around for good
- My best friend, who is also an MD doctor, left it in 2018 because she wanted to be more compassionate towards herself and translate that to the love of animals she had
These people listed above were raised on meat as their protein sources and gave it up for reasons close to them by embracing high protein vegetables. And, apart from some cravings, they did not have many side effects. Ms Stephens lost 7 kgs in the first five weeks and had a lot of energy to go about her day. My doctor friend felt lighter in the etheric sense and saw a shift in her overall well being and thought process after quitting meat and embracing high protein vegetables. However, she does continue to consume protein shakes to up her protein intake during heavy workouts. My dad did not pay much attention to it because he had other priorities to tend to, and this was one of the smallest let go he did in his life for the sake of love. If only there were more selfless enlightened beings around like him! One should consider their options of the best sources of plant protein and consume them.
Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians
High Protein Vegetables
For most people with a 2000 calorie intake, the current daily value (%DV) stands at 50 grams of protein. High protein vegetables are brussels sprouts, lentils, edamame, chickpeas, pinto beans, green peas, lima beans, asparagus, artichokes, chia seeds (sabja), baked potatoes, asparagus, legumes, peanuts, chana dal and many more that we will cover in detail below.
Amount of Protein: 18 grams per cup - boiled
Lentils fall under the legume family and are not vegetables technically. Lentils are the most inexpensive, readily available vegetarian, and vegan-friendly best veg for protein. Dry lentils can be cooked in under 15 minutes if pressure cooked with water without pre-soaking. You can add some chopped veggies such as tomatoes, onions, green chilled and cook with turmeric and salt as per your taste. Lentils can be used to prepare middle eastern style lentil soups too! Make sure to include turmeric due to the benefits of turmeric in ayurveda.
Amount of Protein: 18.5 grams per cup (steamed)
Edamame is delicious and is one of the high protein vegetables. It tastes yum not just at your favourite Asian restaurant but also your home; steamed and sprinkled with some sea salt. Every time you crave a deep-dish pizza, try eating a cup of cooked edamame as it is one of the best protein food veg.
Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
Amount of Protein: 15 grams per cup (boiled and dried)
Chickpeas are also known as Garbanzo beans, the main ingredient in hummus preparation and the famous Indian chhole. They have a slightly nutty flavour and are easily used in any dishes such as curries, soups and vegetable bowls to pack a protein punch. They contain healthy carbs, as well. You can enjoy them as a healthy snack, such as spiced roasted chickpeas. They are the most well-known source of protein for those following a strict vegan diet.
Amount of Protein: 14 grams per cup (boiled from dried)
Mung beans are a good source of protein, fibre, iron and antioxidants. You may soak them in the water tied in a muslin cloth for them to sprout overnight and have them with some chopped veggies and a dash of lemon. They are best to be consumed raw for maximum health benefits. They are also great for weight loss and keep your immune system strong.
Amount of Protein: 9 grams per cup (raw or boiled)
You mean find soybean sprouts in most Asian, especially Korean dishes - now you know the secret behind that flawless Korean skin. They have a high amount of folate, which delivers up to 30% of your daily requirements, and they are known to prevent and treat anaemia. You can consume these in your soups, rice or just raw in your salads for that extra protein boost.
Amount of Protein: 8.6 grams per cup (boiled)
Green peas are at 17% of your daily protein value, and even though they might not be the most appetising form of whole plant protein, they can be easily added to your sauteed veggies and are one of the best protein food veg. They can even be added to any Indian preparation, potatoes and carrot, and some spices added for a nutritional bowl of goodness.
Amount of Protein: 4.28 grams per one stalk (medium boiled or steamed)
Broccoli is one of the best protein food veg and also offers other nutritional health benefits such as Vitamin A, vitamin C and Vitamin K. Do not forget to include the stalk of these green vegetables high in protein along with the flower head in your stir fry when cooking the protein rich vegetables.
Yellow Sweet Corn
Amount of Protein: 4.7 grams of protein
They are a delicious source of protein (along with carbohydrates) and can be consumed year-round, especially during summers and monsoons in India. Have it roasted with a rub of lime, red chilli and salt or steamed with some butter and your favourite choice of spice. They are a great addition to your stir fry, veggies and soups and can be served as a side dish too. Being one of the high protein vegetables, it should be used in any form.
Amount of Protein: 4.6 grams per medium potato (baked with the skin on)
Potatoes are packed with b vitamins, protein, and vitamin C, russet and red potatoes are high protein vegetables with skin on! Try it baked with some seasoning and butter, and you're good to go!
Amount of Protein: 5.7 grams per cup
Brussel sprouts are tiny leafy greens that have heads resembling miniature cabbages. They are a delicious source of protein that can be shredded, steamed, roasted or stir-fried for your salads. They are one of the green vegetables that contain enough protein for a meal.
Chia Seeds, also known as Sabja
Amount of Protein: 4.7 grams per 30 grams
Chia seeds are now known as a superfood which we may have come across in faloodas and various Indian sweet dishes. Globally they have gained fame as chia pudding that is eaten for breakfast or even dessert! They are rich in proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
Other than the high protein vegetables, you may even include items such as peanut butter (can be slathered over your morning toast), sweet potatoes, quinoa in your daily diet as plant-based sources of protein. If you are a vegetarian, you may include milk and milk products such as cottage cheese in your daily diet.
However, make sure you know the facts around is milk becoming antioxidant hindrance in food and beverages? Cottage cheese has a protein content of 11 grams per hundred grams, although they are not plant-based.
Other than the high protein fruits and vegetables list, I would like to add there was a time when our meals were not calculated for calories and macronutrients, the quality of grains was high, and food on the plate was considered as a blessing in households - I'd like to believe this still holds for a lot of homes across the world. But my personal opinion now is that we must be conscious of our protein intake in our daily diets and not just have meals that are not balanced in nutrition. It is also a myth that vegans and vegetarians lack protein in their diet; now we know that's incorrect. We have a plethora of high protein vegetables and fruits to include and fulfil our daily protein requirements and live a healthy happy life. There are numerous green vegetables high in protein which can be consumed. So, figure out which are the best sources of plant protein for you and consciously choose to opt for them!
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Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.