Vegan Protein Sources: Going Meat-Free

People often ask me if I follow a particular style of eating: Paleo, vegan, vegetarian etc. Personally, I don’t subscribe to one particular nutritional theory. I listen to my body and what it is telling me it needs. When I eat something and it makes my body feel good, then I know it’s a good food for my body. The same applies when something makes my body feel sluggish, tired or bloated; I know that food is not right for my body.

I try to eat mostly plant based foods in my diet, as I know they give me energy and make me feel vibrant and healthy. I have found some great, little known vegan sources of protein I wanted to share with you.

Whole Grains: Whole grains such as rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and oats still contain all of their naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You want to avoid the white refined grains like white flour and white rice, as they have had their bran and their germ removed, along with some of their nutritional value.

Beans: Beans contain a more complete set of amino acids than many other plant foods. Beans are best prepared fresh, and it is recommended to start with beans that are smaller in size such as split peas, mung and adzuki beans for easier digestion. You can also make beans easier to digest by soaking overnight, adding spices or vinegar, skimming off cooking foam, pressure cooking or puréeing and eating small portions.

Soy: Soy is one of the most difficult beans to digest. Common forms of soybeans eaten in the American culture include edamame, tofu, tempeh, miso, and tamari. Fermented soy is often easier to digest.  Many people are allergic to soy, and many “food-like” substances incorporate highly processed versions of soy that are difficult to digest and contain very little nutritional value (such as soy milk, soy-meats and soy ice cream). Soybeans are one of the most genetically engineered crops in America, so I personally believe it is extremely important to only choose organic, certified non-GMO soy if you choose to consume it.

Nuts: Nuts can be a good source of vegan protein, but they are quite high in fat as well, so they should be enjoyed in moderation. Peanuts (which are actually legumes) are higher in protein than any nuts. Nuts also contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

Leafy Greens: Broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, bok choy, romaine lettuce, and watercress all contain varying amounts of protein and should be enjoyed often. Leafy greens are also great sources of magnesium, iron and calcium and Quercetin, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. Green leafy vegetables are dense with easily-assimilated amino acids as well as other life-extending nutrients.

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