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How to Get Plant Protein Without Eating Soy

Posted Dec 20 2011 9:00am

Red Beans Before I begin, I’d like to make everyone aware of this page on protein . It’s a technical article and definitely not necessary to read in order to eat a healthy vegan diet. But, if someone out there is haranguing you about not getting enough protein, you might find it helpful.

My one concern is that all the technical information might make it seem difficult to get the protein you need. The most important things to know are right here…

First of all, soy is an excellent source of protein for vegans and as long as you do not have an allergy or intolerance to soy, it should be safe to eat 2 to 3 servings of soyfoods per day. (See for more info on soy safety.)

In addition to soy, the best whole food sources of plant proteins are legumes, followed by nuts.
Legumes include a wide variety of foods including:

  • Garbanzo beans — falafel, hummus, chana masala
  • Pinto beans – refried beans, burritos
  • Black beans – soup, burritos
  • Lentils – dal, soup
Split peas – soup
  • Peanuts – peanut butter
  • Chili beans – chili
  • Green peas – salads, casseroles

Almond butter is high in protein and other nuts are also decent sources.

While most grains have only moderate amounts of protein, quinoa is the exception in having quite a bit (8 g per 1 cup cooked). I found quinoa to taste unusual at first, but I quickly grew to like it. Make sure you rinse it thoroughly before cooking.

In terms of total protein content, products made from wheat gluten, such as seitan, are some of the highest in protein. Like soy, it’s probably good to minimize the wheat gluten products to 2 to 3 servings a day.

Finally, there are both soy and non-soy vegan protein powders on the market, such as Naturade Soy Free Veg Protein Booster (an Internet search will provide many places from which to purchase them).

Note from Elisa: Since protein powders are not whole foods, they should not replace the above items. Powders should only be used as needed to meet, not exceed, daily protein needs for those endurance athletes, burn victims or individuals with unusually high needs.

As a general rule, if you eat 3 servings of the above foods per day, your protein needs should be taken care of.

PS, If you liked this article from Jack and want to hear more from us, please do hop on the mailing list…

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