There is a growing focus in the world on sustainability and how we can consume in a way that does not tax the planet and its resources unduly. Food consumption seems to have formed the backbone of this consideration and both businesses and customers are increasingly paying more attention to how we can reduce our carbon footprint in food.
One of the first things that have been looked at is the packaging. As food ordering and online shopping is on the rise, there has been increasing impetus to reduce plastic use as well as using biodegradable packaging. There have also been growing trends to shift to a more plant-based diet.
A concern however has been how one can obtain the requisite amount of protein required to be healthy. The idea that one can only get protein from animal meat is however a misnomer. There are a wealth of protein rich plant sources that are tasty and nutritious.
Studies have in fact shown that plant-based proteins are healthier than animal-based ones. The idea that you need meat for protein is therefore misguided.
Plant proteins are highly nutritious – not only as good sources of protein, but also because they provide other nutrients such as fibre vitamins and minerals. Our intake of fibre tends to be too low, however by incorporating certain plant proteins into your diets, such as pulses, peas and nuts, you can easily boost your fibre intake. Did you know that peas, soya beans and green beans are all excellent sources of plant fibre?
Here are our top 10 plant based protein choices:
- Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
Soy products are among the richest sources of protein. The protein content varies with how the soy is prepared:
- firm tofu (soybean curds) contains about 10 g of protein per ½ cup
- edamame beans (immature soybeans) contain 8.5 g of protein per ½ cup
- tempeh contains about 15 g of protein per ½ cup
These soy products also contain good levels of calcium and iron, which makes them healthful substitutes for dairy products.
Red or green lentils are nutritious and packed with protein, fibre and key nutrients such as iron and potassium.
Cooked lentils contain 8.84 g of protein per ½ cup.
Lentils can be added to stews, curries, salads, or rice to give an extra portion of protein and there are a multitude of recipes available to prepare this delectable ingredient.
Almonds offer 16.5 g of protein per ½ cup. They also provide a good amount of vitamin E, which is known to aid skin regeneration.
Peanuts are protein-rich, full of healthy fats, and may improve heart health. They contain around 20.5 g of protein per ½ cup.
Peanuts can be easily consumed via peanut butter although be mindful of the sugar content in certain brands. Always read the labels.
5. Cooked Chickpeas
Cooked chickpeas are rich in protein, containing around 7.25 g per ½ cup.
Chickpeas can be eaten hot or cold, and are highly versatile with plenty of recipes available online. They can, for example, be added to stews and curries, soups, salads or spiced with paprika and roasted in the oven.
There’s also Hummus whose base ingredient is the humble chickpea!
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a complete source of protein that contain 2 g of protein per tablespoon. They are also low in calories and rich in fibre
Chia seeds are a great addition to a smoothie, yoghurts and cereals.
7. Beans and Rice
Separately, rice and beans are incomplete protein sources. Eaten together, this classic meal can provide 7 g of protein per cup and is a protein packed and yet delicious ensemble.
A large baked potato offers 8 g of protein per serving. Potatoes are also high in other nutrients, such as potassium and vitamin C. They can also be added to curries and other stir fries.
9. Dark Leafy Greens
Many dark-coloured, leafy greens and vegetables contain protein. Eaten alone, these foods are not enough to meet daily protein requirements, but a few vegetable snacks can boost our protein intake, particularly when combined with other protein-rich foods.
- a single, medium stalk of broccoli contains about 4 g of protein
- kale offers 2 g of protein per cup
- 5 medium mushrooms offer 3 g of protein
Seitan is a complete protein made from mixing wheat gluten with various spices. The high-wheat content means that it should be avoided by people with gluten intolerances.