There is no doubting that protein has an essential role to play in or bodies. In fact every cell in our bodies contains tens of thousands of proteins from our hair, teeth, skin through to our tendons, ligaments and muscles. However protein has become an obsession.
The protein supplement industry alone is worth over $14billion annually and in 2017 the word protein was searched for in Google over 70 million times. So it’s no wonder that as a vegan we constantly get asked “where do you get your protein from” the assumption being that we are probably not getting enough.
The truth is that couldn’t be further from the truth. We actually don’t need as much protein as most people believe. The fact is that anyone eating a balanced WFPB (whole food plant based) diet and eating to calorific needs will be getting sufficient protein and that even includes elite athletes.
We looked at this in detail in our article protein the myths do vegans get enough? so if your interested in the science I recommend you read it. No, todays article is about veggies. Yup that’s right I’ve gone from talking about protein to talking about vegetables.
Why? Well because there seems to be an assumption that vegetables don’t have, or are at least low in protein, when actually many veggies contribute protein as well as a range of other nutrients to our diet. So in no particular order let’s jump on in and see if we can find some veggies high in protein.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 8 grams per cup
SUMMARY: Although peas are really of the legume family I think the majority of us treat and think of them as veggies and as such they make our list. They are easy to cook simply boiling from frozen and make either a great vegetable addition to a main meal or can be added to things like Buddha bowls or tossed in to salads. I know I said that this list is in no particular order but a list of veggies high in protein had to have peas on it and they are a great way to start
NUTRIENT NOTES: Peas also contain high levels of vitamin A, C and K, as well as manganese, iron, phosphorus, folate.
2.Potatoes (Russet Variety)
PROTEIN CONTENT: 7.5 grams per large baked potato
SUMMARY: Ahh the good old potato one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Easy to grow and easy to cook. Can be stored for weeks and is cheap to buy. Although baking or boiling with the skins on are the healthiest options they can be mashed, sautéed or turned in to everyone’s favourite homemade fries
NUTRIENT NOTES: Potatoes also contain high levels of vitamin C and B6 as well as fibre, potassium and manganese.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 4 grams per artichoke (approx 110g)
SUMMARY: Not many people know this but the artichoke is actually a type of thistle and the vegetable is the buds of the flower before it blooms. Artichokes tend to be popular in Mediterranean dishes and are really versatile. They can be steamed, baked or even grilled and are a great addition to salads.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Artichokes also contain high levels of vitamin C and K1 as well as fibre, folate, magnesium and manganese
PROTEIN CONTENT: 3 grams per cup
SUMMARY: Collard greens are a highly nutritious leafy green vegetable that is eaten throughout the world and is particularly popular in southern soulfood coking. Collard greens do have a very slightly bitter flavour and are usually served steamed or boiled but can also be added to soups and stews or even used to make wraps
NUTRIENT NOTES: Collards greens also contain high levels of vitamin A, C and K1 as well fibre, folate and manganese
PROTEIN CONTENT: 4.5 grams per cup steamed
SUMMARY: Popeye’s favourite food is a leafy green vegetable that is native to Asia. Interestingly the protein absorption increases when cooked due to the reduction of oxalic acid. It can be steamed, boiled or even wilted in to a range of dishes. Raw it can be added to salads and smoothies. My favourite though is lightly sautéed with some garlic and served as a side dish
NUTRIENT NOTES: Spinach also contains high levels of vitamin A, C and K as well fibre, folate and manganese
PROTEIN CONTENT: 4 grams per medium stalk
SUMMARY: Full of goodness broccoli is best raw or lightly steamed so as to preserve those water-soluble nutrients. My favourite is steamed and then topped with some soy sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds and added to a salad. Of course it can simply be boiled and used as a side dish or even added to soups and casseroles.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Broccoli also contains high levels of vitamin A, C and K1 as well fibre, folate and manganese.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 4 grams per cup grilled
SUMMARY: I guess really mushrooms should not be on this list as they are not actually vegetable. But as we tend to find them in the vegetable section and use them as a vegetable we can forget that and add them to our list. After all it’s our list so we can do what we want! Mushrooms texture makes them a great replacement in meat dishes for vegans. They are really versatile and can be added to salads, served as a side dish, used to top pizzas or made in to soups and sauces
NUTRIENT NOTES: Mushrooms are also high in vitamins B2, B3 and B5 as well selenium and copper. If left out in the sun stalks up directly after picking they can also absorb vitamin D which makes them one of the few natural vitamin D food sources available.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 3 grams per cup (steamed)
SUMMARY: Kale has become very popular over the past few years because of it’s high nutrient density. Most smoothie shops or juice bars offer some kind of health drink with Kale in it. Kale actually has quite a bitter taste and I personally don’t like it raw unless it is added to a juice but it can of course be steamed, boiled or added to soups and casseroles. My favourite is to put it in the oven and make kale chips.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Kale also contains high levels of vitamin A, C and K1 as well fibre, calcium and manganese.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 3.5 grams per cup
SUMMARY: We were always threatened with brussel sprouts as children, they were the veggie that no one liked. The irony is that they are now one of my favourite veggies and are of course highly nutritious. They tend to be steamed or boiled but can also be roasted and can even be eaten raw for example shredded and tossed in to a salad
NUTRIENT NOTES: Brussel sprouts also contain high levels of vitamin A, C and K1 as well fibre, folate and manganese.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 3.5 grams per cup
SUMMARY: If I had to choose at the moment asparagus would be right up there with my favourite vegetables. It is the perfect accompaniment to so many main dishes but is also super versatile. It can be steamed, boiled, grilled or even roasted and has a lovely sweet flavour. In Spain and certain Mediterranean countries white canned asparagus is very popular but for me you can’t beat it lightly steamed and covered with some black pepper.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Asparagus also contain high levels of vitamin A, B1 and K1 as well fibre, folate and iron.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 4 grams 1 large avocado
SUMMARY: Full of healthy fats avocado is another fruit that has seen a dramatic increase in sales over the past decade. Its extremely versatile and thanks to it’s creamy texture and can be eaten in salads, on toast, in wraps and of course is probably still best known as the main ingredient in guacamole. It is also used a lot in vegan deserts like our chocolate avocado mousse.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Avocados are rich in vitamins A, B, C and K as well as potassium and calcium. They are also full of healthy fats and contain biotin, a nutrient that helps support healthy skin, hair, and nails.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 2.6 grams per 100g
SUMMARY: A great addition to any salad, sandwich, wrap or even pizza topping rocket or arugula and rucula as it is sometimes called also makes a great lettuce substitute. It has a wonderfully complex peppery flavour that enhances most dishes. I even cover my pasta dishes with it.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Rocket also contains high levels of vitamin A, C and K1 as well fibre, folate calcium and potassium
PROTEIN CONTENT: 2 grams per cup
SUMMARY: Another veggie that, like rocket, changes it name depending on what part of the world you are from. I was raised in the UK so to me it is a courgette and it is a cheap versatile veggie. It can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, sautéed with some olive oil as a main dish or sliced and grilled and served as a tapa. You can even use courgettes to make vegan noodles which I’ve been told in certain parts of the world are known a zoodles. Although the protein content isn’t that high in terms of grams it is still approx. 12% of a courgettes calories.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Courgettes are also rich in vitamin A and B6 as well fibre, folate, manganese and potassium.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 4.5 grams per cup
SUMMARY: Corn is a vegetable that we can trace back centuries. Colourful and sweet it can be eaten “on the cob” grilled or boiled. The corns can be stripped from the cob and eaten as a side dish or added to salads cold. Corn is also always readily available be it tinned or frozen making it easy to use all year round.
NUTRIENT NOTES: Corn is rich in vitamins C and B6 as well as fibre, thiamine, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
PROTEIN CONTENT: 2.2 grams per cup
SUMMARY: Cauliflower is my favourite raw veggie of the moment. I make a dip with tamari and mustard and in the raw white of the cauliflower and it’s amazing. But of course it has so many other options to. It can be steamed, boiled or even roasted. I have seen it used as a hummus base and as a meat substitute
NUTRIENT NOTES: Cauliflower is rich in vitamins C, B6 and K1 as well as fibre, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Veggies High In Protein – Let’s Sum It Up
So there you go 15 veggies high in protein that all have good levels. Let me just clarify what I mean by good levels. The WHO states that 5% of total calories from protein is all that is required to maintain health and avoid deficiency. Well every single one of these vegetables exceeds that number.
If we take potatoes as an example. A large jacket potato with 7.5 grams of protein will have approx. 250 calories of which 30 will be protein (7.5g x 4) so 12% of it’s calories are protein. In theory if you eat enough calories worth of potatoes you will be getting enough protein.
Although I certainly don’t recommend it that is exactly what Andrew “spudfit” Taylor did when he went on a potato only diet for a year losing over 50kgs in the process. As always, the most important thing is to have a balanced mixed and healthy vegan diet and including these vegetables will certainly help you do that.