I don’t know about you, but I have heard this question numerous times when I tell people I am vegan. The meat industry has inundated the public with so much false information about the need for meat for protein, that the average person has no idea what or where to find plant based protein. Unfortunately, most don’t even know that you can get protein outside of meat or dairy products!
Happily for us gluten free vegans, there are numerous sources to find good protein — but one needs to be careful as many of the typical vegan protein sources contain gluten … and often, LOTS of gluten!
My go-to expert on the subject is Jane Anderson of About.com: Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity expert.
Here is her list of good, safe vegan protein sources:
• Whole grains. You obviously can’t eat wheat, barley or rye if you’re gluten-free, but there are tons of alternative grains out there. Amaranth and quinoa — at about 8 to 9 grams of protein per cup of cooked grain — are among your best bets for packing in the protein.
• Legumes. Beans are another obvious source of protein on your diet, and there are literally hundreds of great recipes for bean-based gluten-free vegetarian dishes out there. … a cup of boiled lentils gives you 18 grams of protein, while kidney beans come in just below that, at 16 grams per cup.
• Nuts and seeds. Half a cup of pecans can provide you with 5 grams of protein, while 1 ounce of chunky peanut butter nets you 7 grams. You might also consider using almond flour to replace some of your regular gluten-free flour in baked goods to boost your protein consumption — half a cup contains about 12 grams.
• Tofu and soy products. Soy (a common component of vegetarian and vegan dishes) can provide you with plenty of protein. For example, you can add tofu to your dishes (one-fourth of a typical box nets you about 6 grams of protein) and snack on edamame (a cup of edamame in a Japanese restaurant — or at home in your own kitchen — will provide a whopping 22 grams).
• Meat substitute products. There’s a multitude of meat substitute products on the market these days, both in the produce department of the supermarket and in the freezer section — it seems like you can choose anything from a plain burger to exotic meat-free “sausages.”
• Green vegetables (and those in other colors). Don’t forget that basic vegetables — the foundation of your vegetarian or vegan diet — also can contribute some protein. Asparagus, for example, contains 3 grams per cup … and when it’s in season each spring. Cauliflower also offers some protein: about 2 grams per cup, chopped. And cauliflower’s cruciferous relatives, broccoli and brussel sprouts, can kick in about 3 grams per cup. Even fruit contains a bit of protein — usually about 1 gram per piece, give or take.
Personally, I don’t eat soy products, mostly because I have thyroid issues. I also don’t eat meat substitute products for the same reason. Also, many meat substitutes contain gluten, so be diligent about reading labels before you buy any meat substitutes!
How about you? What do you eat to make sure you get enough protein?