A range of vegan protein sources

Vegan protein: how to get enough this Veganuary

Most of us are now familiar with the word ‘Veganuary’ or Vegan January.  It’s the month when we’re all being urged to shun meat, dairy products, eggs, and honey in favour of a plant-based vegan diet. Think veg, fruit, grains, nuts and seeds and products made from them.

However, if you’re new to this, then you may struggle to know what to eat, especially the best vegan protein sources.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares five vegan protein sources and what you need to know.



A range of lentils

Lentils are seeds from the legume family and come in various colours including red, green, yellow, brown and black. In terms of nutritional value, there is very little difference, it’s more a question of taste preference.

Lentils are a rich source of plant protein with very low allergen risk and a plethora of health benefits. They are great for the digestive system as they provide plenty of fibre to keep everything running smoothly.  Importantly they provide prebiotic fibre which feeds that all-important gut microbiome. Furthermore, lentils are low on the glycaemic index meaning they’ll keep blood sugar levels balanced and are great if you’re watching your waistline.


A bowl of peas

Pea protein generally features highly in the vegan or vegetarian diet.  Peas, are of course, rich in protein, and are frequently used in pre-packed vegan foods, often found in the supermarket.  And on that note, there has been a massive increase in the availability of plant-based ready meals, clearly down to heightened demand.  It’s always worth keeping an eye on the ingredients list though, as many are loaded with additives and non-nutrients.

Importantly, peas are not only high in protein, but energising B-vitamins, immune-boosting vitamin C and dietary fibre. If you’re looking for inspiration for high protein, pea-based recipes, then this recipe from BBC Food is easy and super-nutritious.


Cooked Seitan vegan protein

Seitan is one of the newer kids on the block when it comes to vegan protein. It’s produced from gluten, the main protein in wheat and other grains, and looks like meat when cooked.  While it’s a rich source of plant protein, it’s not going to suit everyone as it contains gluten, which many people find difficult to digest.

Although it’s light in taste so needs some additional flavouring, its texture makes it a more popular choice than tofu, which is too soft for many people.  On the plus side, it’s great for those with soy allergies.  As with a lot of things, it’s all about balance.

Seitan is also good for those watching their weight (so will be a popular January choice) as it’s low in both carbs and fat.


A range of beans

Black, kidney, pinto, chickpeas, soy… all beans are wonderful sources of protein.  Furthermore, they are rich in minerals, low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates, making them a great energy source too.

Beans are so versatile, so your Veganuary experience never needs to be dull in texture and flavours.  Think white bean, leek and mushroom stew, chilli con carne, winter bean soup, or traditional Italian pasta and bean stew with crusty bread.  The options are endless, and their high protein content will keep you feeling fuller for longer.


Cooked tempeh vegan protein

Tempeh is often more popular than its counterpart, tofu.  While it’s produced from fermented soy, it has a firmer texture and pleasant nutty flavour.  This makes tempeh perfect and delicious in traditional Indonesian dishes.

What’s so special about tempeh? Obviously, there are many health benefits, but aside from its high protein content, the fermentation process provides both probiotics and prebiotics to help proliferate and nourish the gut microbiome that plays such a key role in overall health.

Tempeh is also a rich source of calcium for bone health and reduces ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels. Plus, if you’re struggling with hormone havoc, especially through the menopause, tempeh is loaded with isoflavones which help to naturally balance hormones.

Enjoy Veganuary, try out some new recipes and grab some real health benefits too.

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