Getting More Protein... Tips & Recipes for Vegans 

Why Do We Need Protein? For growth, tissue repair, and development. It carries oxygen throughout the body, helps make antibodies to fight off infection and disease, keeps cells healthy as well as build new ones, make enzymes & hormones, fuel energy.

Protein is made up of building blocks  called amino acids. There are 20-22  amino acids the body uses. Essential Amino Acids: Those the body cannot make. We must get these from food. Nonessential Amino Acids: Those the body can make. 

Myth: Plant proteins are incomplete. Truth: All plant-based proteins in the food  supply are complete.  They provide all nine essential amino acids.

Myth: It is hard for vegans  to get enough protein. Truth: Ninety seven percent of Americans get enough protein. Vegans and vegetarians get 70 percent more protein than they  need everyday.

Dietary Requirements for Protein: The National Academy of Medicine recommends that  the average adult gets  0.36 grams of protein per pound,  or 0.8 grams per kilogram,  of bodyweight per day.

Is it Bad To Eat Too Much Protein? Excessive protein intake  is associated with: -Increased cancer risk -Bone disorders -Impaired kidney function -Liver disorders -Worsening of coronary  heart disease -Early onset of puberty

Animal Protein Versus Plant Protein: Unprocessed plant-based protein: -Packaged with fiber, heart healthy fats, and disease-fighting phytochemicals.  -Replacing animal protein with plant protein improves blood sugar control in diabetes. Meat-based protein: -Packaged with saturated fat, sodium, and no fiber.  -Increased risk of chronic kidney disease and kidney stones. -May reduce positive metabolic effects of losing weight. -In excess, may cause health problems during pregnancy.

THE BEST PLANT-BASED PROTEIN SOURCES: Seitan Seitan is made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. It is similar in look  and texture to meat. It’s high in protein  and low in calories, fat, and  carbohydrates. 3.5-ounce serving contains 25 grams  of protein. (~60% RDA)

Soy Curls: Soy curls are made from non-GMO,  whole soybeans, grown without  chemical pesticides. They are  gluten-free. High in protein, fiber,  and iron, and have a texture similar to chicken. One serving (¾ cup dry) contains 11g  of protein. (~26% RDA)

Soybean Products Tempeh: 3-ounce serving contains 18 grams of protein. (~43% RDA) Firm Tofu: 3-ounce serving contains 8 grams of protein.  (~19% RDA) Edamame: One half cup serving contains 8 grams  of protein. (~19% RDA) Soymilk: 1 cup contains 8 grams of protein.  (~19% RDA)

Legumes Lentils: One half cup cooked lentils supplies  about 12 grams of protein. (~29% RDA) Beans & Chickpeas: One half cup serving of beans contains 8 grams of protein. (~19% RDA)

Nutritional Yeast A deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. Sold as a yellow powder or flakes. Cheesy flavor. Fortified nutritional yeast is an excellent source of vitamin B12. One half-ounce serving contains 8 grams of protein. (~19% RDA)

Quinoa Referred to as a grain, but technically a seed. Gluten-free. One ¾ cup serving cooked quinoa contains 9 grams of protein. (~21% RDA)

Wild Rice An aquatic grass. Double the protein of brown rice. A one cup serving of cooked wild rice contains 6 grams of protein. (~14% RDA) Hemp Hearts: Mild, nutty flavor. Delicious in salads, sprinkled on avocado toast, mixed into sandwich spreads. A 3-tablespoon  serving has 10 grams of protein  (~24% RDA)

Nuts & Nut Butter Healthy source of protein, fiber, heart healthy fats, iron. Best eaten raw. Blanching and roasting nuts can lower their nutritional value. Opt for natural  nut butters without added oil, sugar,  and salt. One 2 tablespoon serving of nut butter contains 8 grams of protein. (~19% RDA)

Vegetables Highest:  Spinach, Brussels sprouts,  sweet potato, artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, corn (grain), and white mushrooms. Fruit Highest:  Guava, avocado, jackfruit, apricot, kiwi, grapefruit, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, bananas, grapefruit, and oranges.

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