Vegans need to supplement to get adequate B12, it's true, but the myth that they can't get enough protein is exactly that: a myth. With all of the extremely non-meat protein options open to them, it's a wonder that more vegans aren't suffering from protein toxicity.
Here are just a few ways that those who avoid meat and dairy get more than their minimum daily requirements of protein, every day.
Vegans have a huge selection of non-dairy milks from which to choose, but their best bet from the perspective of protein is soy milk. Made from soybeans and usually fortified with vitamins D and B12, a cup of soy moo juice contains 7 grams of protein.
Smart vegans know to opt for wild rice over the more popular white rice as the former contains about one and a half times the protein. A cup of wild rice serves up 7 grams of protein, and the fact that it has not been stripped of its bran like its paler cousin means that it is much higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals as well.
The “alt-grains” quinoa and amaranth each provide 8 to 9 grams of complete protein per cup. They are also strong sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Breads made from sprouted grains also pack a protein kick. The sprouting boosts their lysine content, and that in turn increases the overall quality of their protein. Their fiber, beta-carotene, and folate components are also higher, and their gluten content is reduced, which make these a win-win even for non-vegans.
On the subject of gluten and oddball breads, the so-called “ancient grains” which include spelt, teff, einkorn, barley, sorghum and farro are also notably higher in protein than most of the better known “modern grains” you find in your bagel. Spelt and teff are particularly worth a vegan's attention as they each contain 10 to 11 grams of protein per cup. And teff, made from a grass, contains no gluten at all!
Seeds are the forgotten healthy component in so many diets, but they are a protein-packed cornerstone of a vegan meal. Hempseed may be notorious for containing trace amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but the seeds contain way more than mere traces of protein. You will find 10 grams of complete protein in every ounce of hempseed. Knowledgeable vegans sprinkle hempseed atop their salads or into their smoothies.
Seitan is often used as a mock meat by the manufacturers of vegan alternatives for more popular foods. It's a good choice, because this soy-derived food shares meat's texture, and it is also a powerful source for protein. There are 25 grams of protein to be found in every 3.5 ounces of seitan.
One of the tastier vegan protein tricks doesn't sound like it would be tasty at all: yeast flakes. Sprinkled atop popcorn or into mashed potatoes, this cheesy condiment jams 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber into a single ounce.
Beans and legumes of all types have been a vegan staple long before vegans had their own aisle in the supermarket, and it is easy to see why. Whether black, pinto or kidney, they are primo sources of fiber, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron, as well as providers of 15 grams of protein per cup.
So shed no tears for vegans and their protein – they've got it covered!