I am a vegan and like to hit gym regularly. So, my current intake of protein majorly depends on Nutritional drinks only. I recently read some place that nutritional drinks should not be considered as a substitute of protein diet. Is it true? Why? And what can I consider in my vegan diet to fulfill my protein requirement. Much appreciate any insight on this.

Nutritional drinks can be a way to get additional protein in your diet. Depending on the brand, some have in upwards of 13+ grams of protein per serving. Unfortunately, many nutritional drinks may be loaded with additional sugar and fat also. The drinks are absolutely safe to add to your diet to help increase protein intake. But, I would treat them as a “supplement” and not the main source of protein in your diet. Also, I always urge caution when it comes to consuming too many “liquid” calories to your diet, as it may lead to increased sugar intake and unwanted weight gain.

Those that are vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products. Some people become vegan for ethical reasons (cruelty to animals). Others do it to achieve optimal health. Whatever the reason, adequate education about the diet must be achieved before starting this lifestyle. One following a vegan diet has to work extra hard to plan ahead and to make sure one is obtaining all of the necessary nutrients needed for good health.

Adequate protein intake is an essential part of the vegan diet. This can be somewhat difficult in the absence of meat, eggs and dairy products. Many foods (besides alcohol, sugar, and fats) contain at least some protein. The main sources of protein in the vegan diet include peanut butter, soy products (soy milk, tofu, tempeh, miso), nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, brazil nuts, etc), beans (chickpeas, navy beans, black beans, white beans, kidney beans etc), spinach, whole grain products (100% whole wheat, brown rice, bulger, corn, buckwheat, oatmeal, spelt, quinoa, and wild rice), potatoes, broccoli, etc.

In addition to adequate protein, vegans need to make sure they are consuming a variety of other nutrients. Examples include: calcium (fortified orange juice, dark green vegetables, soy products), zinc (nuts, grains, legumes), iron (green leafy vegetables, beans, fortified cereals), and vitamin B12 (soy products, fortified meat analogues). Examples of vegan fare include oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts, whole grain toast with peanut butter; spinach salad loaded with veggies, beans, and fruit; smoothies made with soy milk and fruit/peanut butter; lentil soup or vegan chili; soy-based products like Morningstar “hot dogs”, “burgers”, “chicken” tenders, etc.; spinach pie; and spaghetti.

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