Hi there, for those of you who do not know, I am vegan.
Furthermore, I am also a geek, and an efficiency geek. Part of the guidelines of those two prior statements is that I look for the best solutions to problems, and I look for ways in which they can be replicated with ease, with as little effort as possible, and consumable by all the masses.
It is with great pain I feel I have to write this post, but this is not the first time I’ve broached this particular subject, in fact I’ve touched on this subject in my personal and professional life hundreds if not thousands of times.
The particular subject in question is, Vegans, or those “trying” to go vegan (Whatever that means) and their lack of ability to get enough protein.
Let me start by providing you a little insight into my particular situation.
I went from Meat-eater, to Vegan over night. I did not ease my way in to it over several years. One day I was eating meat, and the next, I was not any longer – And I haven’t looked back since. That was ~8 years ago I made that decision and change. The core tenet which kept me from being vegan for so long? The lack of consumable vegan foods which weren’t all “Smoked”, “Bbq” or “Charcoaled” It would burn my mouth and left a bad taste all around.
The second part of my situation, is that immediately upon becoming a full-time vegan, instead of a full-time omni-vore, I had to stop myself from eating on a daily and regular basis. Why? Because I was getting too much protein (This is contrary to what you may see a lot of others doing. Most “vegans” claim they cannot get enough Protein) This brings me to the very point of this all: What are you doing wrong if you have become vegan and are unable to get enough protein?
Now, don’t get me wrong, and I want to make this very clear. If you aren’t getting enough protein and you are vegan – You are fundamentally doing something very wrong.
I don’t want to sugar coat this. But there are a number of tenets of nutrition, with the first one being called
Portion sizing: When you eat food throughout a day, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are portions of food which you need to account for. You cannot wake up in the morning, eat 15lbs of pasta and say “I’m done for the day”. First of all, that isn’t healthy and won’t provide you with the sufficient level of nutrients your body needs for long-term sustainability.
Portion Planning: Just because you are eating appropriate portions of food, doesn’t mean you have your planning down. Let’s say you’re following “Crazy Persons New Diet Fad” which says, “Eat only beans and lentils and you’ll lose weight!” While technically it may be true, if your body isn’t sustained to feel satisfied from eating purely lentils and beans all day long (Something I rarely eat), then your body will feel it is being deprived and starved. When the body enters into starvation, it starts to store everything as fat. Next thing you know, your ‘waist’ has grown instead of shrunk and now you’re blaming a “vegan diet”. Any diet which doesn’t involve balance and doesn’t listen to your body, isn’t one worth trying.
Bringing me to the next most important:
Listen to your body: Once you’re off the hormones of beef and all of the additives found inside of most food, you’ll be able to “hear” your body. You will find yourself having cravings for all different kinds of foods. That is your body telling you “I need this, I want that”. My body tends to tell me when I lack certain nutrients so I fulfill its particular requests. While this can be easily said by the lack of certain nutrients and substances, the same can be said by the abundance of things. Your body in short order will start to alert you when you’ve taken in too much protein, or fat-soluable minerals.
So you’re saying, “Hey, I’m vegan and I don’t get enough Protein”.
I have to ask, “Then what is it that you’re eating?”.
Here are some particularly good sources of Protein, which don’t require you to change your diet considerably, or undergo any kind of major ‘changes’ to your life, let alone your budget.
Disclaimer: If you have a gluten allergy, a majority of these will not work for you. Let me know if you are looking for sources of protein and are allergic to gluten and I can reach out to you separately. :) I particular seek out Gluten specific proteins because I like Gluten :))
Second Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with any of these food companies. This is actual food that I eat, and I’m tired of hearing vegans “quit” because of the lack of “protein” options.
You’re on the Go? Need a snack and an influx of Protein?
Look to: Tofurky Jurky! (Available in Original and Peppered) – 12 Grams of Protein per 4 pieces. That’s a “steak” worth of Protein in a single package, yet taking seconds to eat.
Still on the go, and want something sweet?
Clif Bar has all the answers here.
As a convenience vegan, always on the go, I looked for the best in high quality/low cost bars to eat. After trying them all, I’m drawn towards the “Clif Bar” and the “Luna bar” line. Though, the Luna Bars I like are only available out of season. :)
A few specific bars from Clif that I eat are:
And my favorite ones available (seasonally)
So, wait a minute. You’re telling me a bar, which you can get for $0.99 cents has 10 or more grams of protein in it?
Next thing you’re gonna say I can get a single Vegan bar covered in chocolate with 13 grams of protein!
Hey, wait a minute. I’m not always on the go, and I want something which isn’t just a bunch of candy bars to eat! What options do I have to introduce into my regular meals?
Well, this is simply done without pictures! Get yourself some Tofu, some Seitan, or even eat some Pasta! Pasta itself has loads of protein in it. If you’re saying “I don’t want to eat carbs” then you’re effectively saying you are willing to throw all caution to the wind and ignore your body and its needs (The brain loves carbs!) But, to cut on carbs.. go with Seitan or Tofu then.
Here’s a simple way to give yourself a large volume of Protein with little effort.
1 Cup of Pasta, a heaping of Pasta sauce to your choosing, and 1 cup of Garbanzo beans smashed. The beans will mix with the sauce and become a thicker sauce.
All to the tune of an additiona 11.9 grams of protein just from the garbanzo beans alone.
Hey! I thought you said not to eat beans.
No, I didn’t say that. I said that beans and lentils are not a staple in my diet, I come across them occasionally! And you can too. :)
One of the best ‘quick access’ protein sources that can be cooked are the new Boca Original Chik’n Nuggets. There was some controversy around these (I’m sure you’ll find them on a google search) where they went from a vegan recipe, to a non-vegan recipe. And now we’re back to the vegan recipe. I particularly advise the bagged variety which offers 14g of protein per every ’4′ nuggets. They’re soft, easily consumable, great tasting, and $2.69 a bag at my local Woodmans.
This is not the end-all, be-all list. The options are endless and I’ve only barely touched the surface of how to get protein (Infact, too much protein) fairly easily and readily.
One last thing for the Spelt-inclined or general Pretzel lovers:
Newmans makes a line of Pretzels which are chock full of protein! (And spelt as well) 4/5 grams of protein per serving for around 30 grams per bag.
Like I said, this is not the definitive list of Protein sources out there for vegans. There is a lot more than this, and a whole lot which cater specifically to particular allergies or needs, and even some to correspond to what I would refer to the “Crazy diets”
(Re: Crazy Diet is defined as a diet which cares more about what they’re telling you to do on paper, than to actually care for and listen to your body. These fad diets tend to cause more trauma in the casual person than they do of help in the long-run). As an efficiency and hard-core geek who will test things and get them down to a scientific level of replication, I would not encourage diets which are not founded in fact or reality.)
Good luck out there, but most importantly – If you’re not getting enough Protein – Tell me what it is that YOU eat, and that can be easily tracked and traced to make sure you’re not only living well, but a balanced and appropriate life.
This post inspired by My So Called Vegan Diet: Week 2