- Lentils are a good source of vegetarian protein
- Spirulina is also a part of this bandwagon
- Sattu is another great source of vegetarian protein
Proteins are crucial for the human body to grow, develop and repair damaged cells. They are the building blocks of life and are not only essential for those who exercise vigorously but for others as well, depending on their requirements. The myth often associated with plant-based protein is that it is not an equal match to meat or dairy. If we look around us, even animals are vegans. Plants are one of the most efficient ways of getting your nitrogen requirements for the body, giving a very high per gm of consumption ratio.
The global trends, especially in a COVID world, are significantly showing a surge in demand for vegan and vegetarian options. People have made health and fitness a priority and being active has become a part of daily life.
Plant protein is essentially protein, which is derived from plants. Today, there are many choices to select from when it comes to protein rich foods that are plant based. This includes pulses, tofu, soya, nuts, seeds, certain grains and even peas. Pulses are a large group of plants, which include chickpeas, lentils, beans (such as black, kidney and adzuki beans) and split pea.
Here are a few other sources of plant-based protein
As Indians, we have grown up eating our dals and our diet is replete with different and varied forms of lentils. All your beans and peas are a great source of vegetarian protein and since lentils are gluten free, they are suitable for all kinds of diets. In fact, when lentils are combined with whole grains, the protein content is said to be equivalent to the protein content in meat. Today, India is one of the largest producers of lentils. These are easily available and are easy on the pocket.
This magical super food is popular across the globe and is known for its many nutrients and antioxidant properties. However, not many people know that Spirulina, a type of cyanobacteria belonging to a family of single-celled microbes often referred to as blue-green algae, has high protein content. Spirulina is said to have 60% of protein, which is higher than most vegetables.
The health benefits of moringa cannot be emphasised enough. This magical medicinal herb, referred to as the Moringa oleifera plant or the drumstick tree, is often consumed in our Indian diet. The drumsticks are hugely popular and can be eaten as a vegetable or in Sambhar. Moringa has antibacterial properties, protects your liver, boosts and improves immunity, is good for the brain and is said to have twice the amount of protein than curd has. The leaves can be eaten raw, crushed to form a powder or even consumed in the form of a supplement.
4. Nutritional supplements
A vegan/ vegetarian diet may sometimes be lacking in certain vitamins, which can be supported by regular supplementation. Today, there are genuine brands and vegan supplements that have a high protein content packed in a single scoop. Brown rice and pea protein is a good combination for plant-based protein as they offer a complete amino acid profile and deliver complete vegan protein.
If you are vegetarian or vegan and want to get your protein intake from a plant-based diet, know that there are many options available today, either as whole foods or supplements. These are only a few examples of protein forms that are easily available in abundance.
(Varun Khanna is a Biotechnologist and Co-Founder, Fast&Up)
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