4 Delicious Plant-Based Proteins We Want You To Try and Why

What is vegan protein? To many, the phrase doesn’t even make sense. But, in reality, vegan protein can sustain the body just as well, and it makes even more sense sustainably. So, why don’t we eat more of it?

By 2050, the world's total population is expected to grow or might exceed 9 billion, and, hence, the demand for food, feed, and fiber around the globe is expected to increase by 70% (Langyan, 2021). Provided that people want to eat meat every day, how will we feed the planet in the coming years? There is no doubt that new sources must be explored. Even though plant-based proteins are considered “vegan food,” they are truly a nutritious source for everyone. 

Plant-based protein provides an ample number of amino acids that are directly absorbed by the body, and can help prevent various disease ailments. Moreover, the proteins derived from plant-based foods are rich in fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, and carbohydrates (Langyan, 2021). Hence, they are mainly associated with a reduction in cardiovascular diseases, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, obesity, and type II diabetes mellitus (Langyan, 2021). More simply, choosing plant-based protein can help save your body and your planet!

Let’s talk about the 3 delicious plant-based proteins and how they can help you.



Seitan wings

What is seitan?

Seitan made by isolating the protein or vital wheat gluten in wheat dough. Wheat gluten has been documented in China since the 6th century (Lama, 2019). It was widely consumed by the Chinese as a substitute for meat

Seitan isn't bread though. This product is made from the gluten that has been separated from starch and the other components in flour.

Is Seitan processed?

Photocred: Connoisseur veg 

Well, a lot of the foods we consume are processed to some extent.  According to the  Department of Agriculture, processed food are any raw agricultural commodities that have been washed, cleaned, milled, cut, chopped, heated, pasteurized, blanched, cooked, canned, frozen, dried, dehydrated, mixed, or packaged (, The Nutrition Source). More highly processed food can contain ingredients added for flavor and texture, such as sweeteners, spices, oils, and colors.

So, does store-bought seitan pose the concerns that faux beef or microwaverable pizza do? Not likely. Although of course, there are probably questionable seitan products on the frozen food market. However, if you don’t even want to worry about this,  seitan is super easy to make at home, you can order made-from-scratch seitan at restaurants, and you can also buy less processed, frozen seitan from co-ops, farmer’s markets, health food markets, and Asian supermarkets. Grocery store seitan will likely be cooked and frozen which requires processing but you can look for “unflavored seitan.”

Is seitan a good source of protein?

Although the amount of protein in seitan is similar to the amount of protein in lean meat, it’s true that it’s not a complete protein, meaning that it does not contain enough types of amino acids to be a complete protein. It lacks lysine and threonine. However,  you can still obtain all the essential amino acids you need each day by eating a variety of high-protein foods such foods may include nuts, seeds, legumes, seitan, tofu, and soy.  

#2 Tofu and Tempeh

What is tofu?

Orange tofu 

Photocred: conscious plant kitchen

Tofu or bean curd is made by pressing curdling soy milk into a solid block. People in Japan have made tofu for more than 2,000 years. 

What is Tempeh? 

Tofu egg and tempeh sausage biscuit

Photocred: Yummly 

Tempeh or tempe is a traditional, Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form.  Tempeh contains more fiber and more protein than tofu because it contains the whole bean. The soy protein in tempeh is also more digestible because of the fermentation process.

Is soy bad for you?

Like other soy-based foods, tofu and tempeh contains plant estrogens. For many years, people thought soy added too much estrogen to your body. But much of the research raising this concern looked at the effects of soy on animals. Those animals process soy differently than humans do, and rest assured, tofu is okay. Choosing tofu instead of meat can be a great way to lower LDL cholesterol also. 

As a side note, according to WebMd, avoiding tofu is suggested you take a MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) medication because your blood pressure can be impacted. 

Is tofu a good source of protein? 

Unlike other plant  proteins, tofu contains all nine essential amino acids that your body can't make on its own. More simply, it’s very satisfying to eat, and it keeps us full for longer.

Here is a quick look at tofu’s nutritional makeup:

One 3-ounce slice of tofu has:

  • Calories: 78
  • Protein: 8.7 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 0.8 grams
  • Carbs: 2 grams

#3 Chickpeas 

Chickpea chili with mushrooms

Photocred: The first mess

Chickpeas are delicious, and they are a great source of protein! One half-cup serving of chickpeas has 6 grams of protein. To put it in perspective, the daily value for protein is 50 - 60 grams per day, meaning it’s good for the average person to get that amount of protein per day. 

However, if you’re making a switch to a plant-based diet, integrate legumes like chickpeas slowly because they can cause intestinal bloating and gas if your body has not adjusted to a large intake.

There are so many delicious options for chickpeas. Hummus is made of chickpeas, and they are also used in curries, stews, chilis, and soups! Chickpeas are high in choline, folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, Vitamin A, E, and C. You can also roast chickpeas and use them as croutons.  And chickpeas can be made into real chips! Just search "chickpea chips." They are so crunchy and flavorful with a buttery texture!

You can easily enjoy these plant-based options, and the best part is you're being kind to the planet when you do so!

Written by Kerri Hardy

This is not medical advice. Always speak to your  medical provider or registered dietician.