Finding protein sources for vegans might be a little more difficult than finding protein enriched products for other people (even vegetarians). Since (being a vegan) you can't even eat diaries or eggs (which are pretty good albumin sources) you have to replace them with number of other foods which will fulfill your protein needs.Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brocco_lee/
The proteins basics
You need to know that proteins are made of amino acids. You have to provide your body with all essential amino acids. Unfortunately the best sources of that kind of proteins (complete proteins) are meat and diaries. Most vegan food doesn't contain all of those vital microelements. You can solve this issue by adding multiple sources of albumins with various protein profiles (amino acids distribution) to your meals.
When it comes to proteins it's the quality that's more important factor than quantity. So when you'll be preparing your diet look for the healthiest sources first then fill the remaining amount with those slightly less healthy products.
Protein sources for vegans
Examples: peas, beans, lentils, peanuts (yes, peanuts are not actually nuts!).
Legumes are the most common sources of proteins for vegetarians and vegans. Soy also belongs to this group but it deserves its own entry. Legumes of different kind can be found in every grocery store or bigger market so you won't have a problem to buy them in whichever amounts you need. Among legumes you should definitely consider adding lentils to your diet. They contain around 26g of proteins per every 100g.
Examples: almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts.
Besides foods given as an example you can also eat nuts butter, but remember: consuming only almond (or peanut) butter won't replace eating nuts. It should be eaten only as an addition, once in a while.
Examples: sesame, sunflower, pumpkin.
Seeds (besides proteins) contain also a lot of healthy fats so including them in your meals (even only one per day) is a good idea.
Examples: rice, wheat, barley, rye, oats, quinoa, spelt.
Grains are mainly a source of carbohydrates. Nevertheless they contain a small amount of proteins (ca. 10 grams for every 100g). Among grains you should definitely consider quinoa. It's one of a few vegetables that contains complete proteins, so it's definitely worth taking into consideration.
Examples: soybeans, tempeh, tofu, soy meat, soymilk.
There is a lot of controversy involving soy products and a lot of ongoing studies. It's probably the best for you to include some soy products in your diet because they contain complete proteins (which is unusual situation among plants). Just try not to overuse it. In soy products you should be interested especially in tempeh.
Combining protein sources
To provide your body with all essential amino acids you can combine protein sources in the following ways:
- grains + legumes
- nuts + legumes
- seeds + legumes
Combining those sources doesn't mean you have to include both protein sources in one meal. You should spread the proteins intake throughout the meals. It's the best way to keep your organism supplied with proteins and have varied meals so you won't get bored after a week eating the same food combination every single day.