How to Get Enough Protein and Iron (while only eating plants)
“Does a vegan diet provide enough protein and iron for the body?” It is one of the most common questions that people ask about going vegan. Unfortunately, there is a huge amount of misinformation out there regarding the vegan diet, protein, and iron. Many people assume that if they are to abstain from eating any animal products or byproducts, they will forgo many nutrients from their diet.
However, it is a complete misconception. The vegan diet offers plenty of sources for protein and iron. Here is a simple guide that will show all aspiring vegans how to get enough protein and iron in their diet.
1. Eat More Tofu, Tahini, Green Lentils and Mushrooms
These four foods are incredibly useful within a vegan diet. Not only are they delicious additions to any lunch or dinner, but they are also packed full of the nutrients the body needs to grow and stay healthy. Green lentils contain roughly 6mg of iron per cup, while mushrooms have around 2.5mg per cup. Tahini is an incredible source of protein, bringing in 6g per a single ounce, while an ounce of tofu delivers 4g of protein.
A huge advantage of getting protein from such sources is that all the unhealthy aspects of meat and dairy are avoided. While meat provides a lot of protein in a typical diet, it is also full of unhealthy fats and other substances that are not good for our body. Focusing on items such as tofu, tahini, green lentils, and mushrooms will help vegans maintain a healthy balance of protein and iron.
2. Go Nuts
Nuts are one of the biggest assets within a vegan diet. Not only are they delicious, but they contain all the right nutrients too. And they are so easy to incorporate into a diet. They do not require cooking or adding to meals. Packing up a zip-lock bag of mixed nuts is the perfect way to create a healthy snack that is full of protein and other nutrients.
Those searching for vegan protein sources will love nuts. Almonds contain 6g of protein for each ounce, while hazelnuts deliver 4g per 1oz. Cashews are another excellent source of protein, clocking in at 5g per ounce. Nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios and walnuts are also great source of iron. It is also a good idea to add items such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds to a bag of mixed nuts, as those are also rich in iron.
3. Replace Simple Carbs with Quinoa
It is incredible how much of a difference quinoa can make to a vegan diet. Instead of gorging on simple carbs, it is a good idea to add quinoa to the base of some meals. A single cup of cooked quinoa contains 8g of protein and up to 15 percent of the daily iron requirement for healthy adults. It is among the best vegan iron sources, as it is so easy to incorporate into a diet.
Making a raw salad for dinner? Add cold quinoa to the base. Cooking up some roasted vegetables? Quinoa is the perfect warm side dish. It also contains other nutrients that will help vegans meet their daily requirements, such as manganese, magnesium, folate, copper, and potassium.
The idea that going vegan means having to give up on a lot of protein and iron in one’s diet is a complete misconception. There are plenty of incredible sources of protein and iron within the vegan diet. In fact, these foods are healthier than “animal” protein and iron sources, such as red meat. Vegans who eat plant-based sources of protein will live healthier and happier lives!