A vegan gets his protein and fats from plant foods rather than animal foods. Vegans eat no meat or dairy products, differentiating a vegan from some of the other forms of vegetarianism. If you are a vegan, you can meet your body's nutritional requirements for protein and fat by planning your food intake to include plant sources containing proteins and fats.
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Eating no dairy or eggs means that your vegan diet is cholesterol free, and contains little saturated or trans fats, explains the Vegetarian Resource Group. Instead of getting fats from cheese or milk products, get your fat from peanut, almond or cashew butter, which are also good sources of protein. Buy a commercial product or grind your own fresh nuts into a paste, adding a little canola oil as necessary. Avocado is one of the few fruits high in fat, and is good to eat on occasion. Coconut oil is healthy to cook with, and margarine also contains fat.
Grains for Protein
According to the Vegetarian Society, most foods contain protein. Although not considered a perfect protein like an egg, grains are a good source of protein for vegans who do not eat eggs. The society recommends eating a balanced diet to get all your 46 to 56 grams of protein a day, depending on your sex and age. Oatmeals, wheat breads and unrefined rice provide you with part of your protein requirement for the day. Serve yourself muesli for breakfast, which at 7.7 grams of protein for about 2 oz., rivals the protein content in a boiled egg. Eat a couple of pieces of bread or rolls for lunch and include brown rice with your vegetables at dinner.
Beans, Peas, Lentils and Seeds
Beans, peas, lentils and seeds are excellent sources of protein. According to the Vegetarian Society, 7 oz. of chick peas has 16.0 grams of protein. Eat chick peas on a salad, or puree them into a paste for hummus. Prepare beans in a variety of different ways, from baking beans to eating bean burgers. Use beans and lentils in soups. Lentils cook quickly and are a convenient way to get protein without waiting for dried beans to soak. Take sunflower and pumpkin seeds with you for an easy snack.
Veg Family magazine writer, Chrisa Novelli, M.P.H. says that tofu, soy milk, soy flour and soy oil are all made from edamame, or whole soybeans. Soy is a versatile vegetable, and as a complete protein, forms the basis of products like soy burgers, soy cheese, yogurt and even ice cream, says Novelli. One cup of soymilk has about 7 grams of protein, a half cup of tofu has about 10 grams of protein and a third of a cup of meatless ground soy also has about 10 grams of protein, says the Soy Foods Association of North America. You can eat soy breakfast "sausages" and have 11 grams of protein or a cup of soy yogurt for 6 grams.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Vegetarian Resource Group: Veganism in a Nutshell
- VegFamily: Vegan Nutrition with Dina Aronson, M.S. R.D.
- Vegetarian Society: Protein
- VegFamily: Being Vegan and Eating Soy: Myths, Truths, and Everything in Between
- Soy Foods Association of North America: Soyfood Protein Content Chart
- National Institutes of Health: Vegetarian Diet