10 best sources of protein that don’t contain meat or dairy
Protein is a vital nutrient for a host of reasons. And there are plenty of excellent plant-based sources, which is great news for vegans and vegetarians.
It means you need to eat a certain amount of protein every day (more on that, below!).
Plus, if you’re vegan or even vegetarian, animal-based protein sources are off the menu.
“Eating a variety of protein-rich foods is the key to a healthy, balanced diet,” says dietitian Milly Smith.
“That means including nuts, seeds, legumes and soy products, as well as protein-rich vegetables like spinach and asparagus.”
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How much protein do you need each day?
Official guidelines say that, per day:
- Women need 0.75g per kilogram of bodyweight, increasing to 0.94g after the age of 70.
- Men aged need 0.84g per kilogram of bodyweight, increasing to 1.07g after the age of 70.
So, a 65kg women needs 48g of protein a day, increasing to 61g past the age of 70.
But more recently, experts have questioned whether that’s enough if you’re trying to lose weight.
The takeaway? To help with weight loss, the CSIRO suggests eating at least 1.2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, every day, making sure each main meal contains 25g of it.
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The best plant-based proteins
Eat them raw sprinkled on to yoghurt and porridge or blended into a smoothie, but by soaking 1 tbs of seeds in 3 tbs of water, you can also use them as an egg substitute in baking.
- Try this recipe: Blueberry and Tofu Cream with Nuts and Chia Seeds
One cup of chickpeas provides 12g of protein as well as a third of daily fibre requirements. Chickpeas are also a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially folate, magnesium and potassium.
- Try this recipe: Sally Obermeder’s Chickpea and Vegie Curry
- Try this recipe: Luke Hines’ Maple and Almond Granola
A 120g serve of boiled young green soybeans (pods removed) contains 12g of protein.
- Try this recipe: Vegan Buddha Bowl
- Try this recipe: Vegetable and Smoked Tofu Bake
Naturally gluten free, you can use cooked buckwheat as a substitute for cooked barley or rice.
- Try this recipe: Raw Cashew and Lime Cheesecakes
They also contain a substantial amount of a specific type of dietary fibre that acts as a prebiotic, helping to stimulate the growth and activity of “good” bacteria in the gut.
- Try this recipe: Smoky Sweet Potato and Lentil Tortilla Soup
Like lentils, asparagus is also rich in vitamins A, C and K. It contains folate and that all-important prebiotic dietary fibre, too.
Plus, you’ll get 5g of protein by eating eight or nine spears of cooked asparagus.
- Try this recipe: Asparagus and Tofu Spring Rolls
- Try this recipe: Vegan Pie with Tomatoes and Red Kidney Beans
This is a fibre-rich source of protein made from a fungus, that’s used to produce a range of meat-free substitute products.
Some “fake” mince, burger and sausage roll products contain as much as 16g of protein per 100g.
If you are vegan, just be sure to check the ingredients list, as some mycoprotein products contain milk and egg.
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Written by Karen Fittall.