Getting enough protein isn’t as hard for vegans as some people would have you believe. It can get more complicated, however, if feeding children (who can sometimes be picky – go figure) and then even more so if those children have food allergies or intolerances.
Soy and nuts are well-known sources of protein for vegans. But, soy and nuts are also common allergens or irritants. But, no fear! There are plenty of other sources of protein that can easily fit into a vegan diet. Here are just a few.
Beans, Lentils, and Peas
Chickpeas, navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, peas, and more. Beans are a great source of protein and when combined with a grain can even make a “whole protein” (less important to do in a meal than you may believe). Children may not be into the idea of pea soup – though mine were. But that’s ok. There are many other options to try. How about:
If nuts are off limits, how about seeds? Hemp seeds and flax seeds can be ground and sprinkled onto or into other dishes including smoothies or even mac and cheese. Chia seeds go nicely in overnight oats or a pudding. Quinoa (which acts like a grain but is really a seed) can be easily substituted for rice. Sunflower seeds can be a fun snack and also make a good addition to cookies, salads, granola, or even pasta dishes. Pumpkin seeds go very nicely in Mexican food. And tahini is a good started for dipping, using as a sauce for veggies, or thinning with lemon and oil for a salad dressing.
You might not think that grain-based food would ever have protein, but it definitely can. Brown rice has protein, as does whole wheat, buckwheat, wild rice, cornmeal, and even oats. This opens up many options for adding protein to the diet, like:
A sandwich on whole wheat bread (or check the protein values of Ezekiel bread!)
Dishes made from/with seitan
Whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes (substitute almond or coconut milk for soy)
Overnight oats with your choice of add-ons
Vegetables (besides beans)
This throws people off sometimes, but yes, non-bean vegetables can have protein. Broccoli, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, sweet corn, arugula, asparagus, and artichokes (avocado, which isn’t exactly a vegetable). Potatoes even have some protein. This is why a varied vegan diet that contains a good amount of food close to its natural form means that there is little to fret about with regard to getting enough protein. You could whip up a little:
So, even if you are feeding picky kids or are a picky adult, and have to contend with allergies to soy and nuts, getting enough protein isn’t a barrier to eating vegan!