If you’re vegan, you have to be much more careful about your diet to make sure you’re still getting all the things you normally would find in meat, like protein and iron. However, if you do a little research and some careful grocery shopping, you can easily find them in other sources. Here are some of the best, vegan protein sources:
Beans are packed with nutrients, easy to make and cheap to buy. You can make bean burgers, toss them in soups or stews, make them as a side-dish or combine them with rice or quinoa for a full meal.
o Nutritional content: 7 grams of protein per cup, plus fiber, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
o Con: beans don’t contain the complete amino acid chain like most meats do, so you’ll have to combine them with protein-rich grains or legumes to get that effect.
Tofu is great for its versatility. It can be used in anything from stir fry to scrambled eggs, and if you get the right tofu you can even throw it on the grill. Make sure to get firm tofu—the firmer it is, the higher the protein content.
o Nutritional content: 10 grams of protein per half cup, plus iron and calcium.
o Con: as with anything made from soy, tofu is high in estrogen. Make sure to use an aromatase inhibitor like Forma Stanzol v3so you don’t lose any of your gains.
Quinoa is a tasty, nutritious substitute for rice, but you can also use it in salads, soups, baking or as vegan burgers. You can also use quinoa as a pasta substitute with homemade pesto on top.
o Nutritional content: 8 grams of protein per cooked cup, plus iron, magnesium, fiber, manganese and the complete chain of amino acids.
o Con: if you’re restricting your carb intake, you’re going to have a hard time finding space for quinoa in your diet.
You don’t need us to tell you how to eat peanut butter. Eat it on whole wheat toast, on apple or banana slices, with celery sticks, mixed into oatmeal…there’s no bad way to eat peanut butter.
o Nutritional content: 15 grams of protein per two tablespoons, plus vitamin E.
o Con: peanut butter, while high delicious and packed with protein, is also high in fat. Try to find organic peanut butter that isn’t loaded with preservatives and saturated fats and make sure to stay within recommended servings so you don’t go overboard on the healthy fats.
You might know this as “wheat meat” or “wheat protein.” Seitan is a popular substitute because it looks and has the texture of meat after cooking and can be flavored to taste like almost any meat (on its own it tastes like a mushroom). You can find it at specialty health food stores.
o Nutritional content: 21 grams of protein per each third of a cup, plus vitamin C, amino acids and riboflavin.
o Con: this is a no-go for anyone who is gluten intolerant or has Celiac disease.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to each of these meat substitutes and each of them has different benefits for the body. They can also be used in vastly different ways—from additives in baked goods to replacements for meat to toppings—to make sure you are getting all the protein, iron, magnesium and other essential vitamins and minerals that every bodybuilder requires in their diet. Before dramatically changing your diet, it is always best to consult a doctor or nutritionist.
We hope this will help you as you meal prep each week and strive to meet your nutritional goals.