Most vegetarians and vegans following an animal-free diet understand the importance of including protein in their diet to ensure healthy bones, skin and tissue. The easiest source of vegetable-based protein is soy. However, soy is thought to be highly genetically modified (GMO) and is high in phytoestrogens; hardly suitable for eco-warriors and those seeking a more down-to-earth way to satisfy their protein needs without consuming ‘flesh foods.’ We suggest some of the best soy-free protein sources and what makes them so special.
Seeds are the origin of natural nutrition and the embryonic symbol of life itself. They are also one of the best soy-free protein sources for vegetarians and meat-eaters but they must be eaten raw. If seeds are exposed to heat or roasted, the vitamins, minerals and essential oils are lost and they become a dead food.
Chia seeds are particularly high in protein, containing 2.5 times more protein than kidney beans while delivering eight times more omega-3 than salmon. They also have more fiber than rice, more vitamin C than oranges and more magnesium than broccoli!
Hemp seeds are also high in nutritional content delivering all 20 amino acids as well as being one of the best soy-free protein sources. They are also nature's highest botanical source of essential fatty acids, exceeding even the high levels found in flaxseed and nuts, so they are a key ingredient for anyone following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet.
Flaxseed has numerous health benefits. One cup (168 grams) delivers 31 grams of protein as well as 46 grams of fiber. Ground flaxseed has more nutritional benefit than the whole seeds, so pulverize them in a blender and sprinkle on cereals, fresh banana pieces, baked goods and smoothies.
Munchy sunflower seeds have slightly less protein content than flaxseed but they are high in vitamin E to counter harmful free radical damage.
Nuts for Soy-free Protein
Although nuts are generally higher in calorific content than seeds, they are a staple for any non-meat-eater.
Almonds top the list for the best soy-free protein sources, delivering 20 grams of protein and 43 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat from a one cup (95 grams) serving, according to the USDA. They are also high in vitamin E, fiber and many essential minerals.
Walnuts are another good source of protein with 15 grams per 100 grams which is 30% of your daily requirement.
The USDA recommends adults should consume between 5 and 6 ½ ounces of protein per day and should get up to 35% of their calories from protein. We hope we have provided some new ideas for the best soy-free protein sources to help you enjoy a healthy and balanced diet.