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How to Maximize your Fitness Goals through Diet: The Vegan Guide to Protein Alternatives



No, I've not suddenly become a fitness blogger. This is a guest post by the amazing Emily from Borders and Burpees, a vegan travel and fitness blog. While I do know my way around nutritional labels, I don't require any extra protein than your average person - but I know maintaining high protein levels is a source of frustration for active types going vegan. So I brought in someone who knows what they're talking about. Take it away Emily....

When I first turned vegan, I found a lot of backlash in the fitness community. I couldn’t believe that people dedicated to keeping fit could be unsupportive of something that is so healthy!? Lifting weights and bodybuilding has always been built on the backbone of getting an enormous amount of protein, with chicken, fish and beef being the main sources – as well as milky protein shakes and cottage cheese. Through trial and error, as well as soaking up as much online resources as I possible could, I found the best alternative protein sources. Here’s my top tips on the best vegan protein sources and where to find them in Glasgow!

Tofu

A staple in any vegan’s diet, tofu has long been accepted as a great protein source and alternative to meat. What makes it so good is its versatility – you can make scrambled tofu for breakfast, tofu burgers for lunch and crispy Chinese tofu for dinner, all tasting completely different.

The Tofoo Company is the brand of tofu I go for, it’s well priced at £2 a block and comes in naked/ smoked. Making it perfect for marinating or putting straight in a dish, easy! You can pick it up at Waitrose, who has a good tofu selection with a few other brands stocked as well.

Tofu has less calories than meat, but every 100g only has around a quarter of the protein. Therefore, it’s good to combine tofu with rich grains such as quinoa or lentils to get a good protein kick! 

Nut Butter

Peanut butter is a fitness diet staple. Especially for those who are looking to pack some extra calories into their diet to gain muscle. Gone are the days when you only had smooth and crunchy to choose from, with whole ranges of different flavours and nuts on offer, you really are spoiled for choice! My favourite is the Pip & Nut range, which I first came across in London at a friend’s apartment. Flavours include Honey Roasted Cashew, Peanut and Maple and Coconut Almond Butter. 

The range is a little pricier that your usual nut butter and you do go through it faster due to it being so delicious, but the premium is worth it for the quality. For those who are vegan for ethical reasons, you will be glad to know there is “absolutely no palm oil” in the product, which means it’s good for the environment as well.

Wholefoods used to be where I got my Pip & Nut fix, but with the Giffnock branch closing I was fearful of a lifetime purchasing it online. Luck for us, Sainsbury’s and Holland and Barrett now stock the range.

Seitan

Another great option for vegans is seitan, seitan bacon strips are becoming especially popular and served in lots of vegan restaurants like The Flying Duck. The substitute has around 20 grams of protein per 3 ounce portion, which is comparable to lean meat.

Unfortunately, seitan is a bit harder to source than the rest of the options on this list, with smaller health food stores being the most likely option to stock them. Roots and Fruits in the West End has a small range, but your best chance of getting some quality Seitan is to source it online. 

Mycoprotein

So, this one some find a little controversial. A lot of people go vegan to avoid processed food and Mycoprotein is about as processed as you can get! However, Quorn are expanding their growing vegan range to meet the new demand for plant based diets, so it’s a substitute definitely worth considering. If you’re looking for an easy to cook alternative in the form of burgers, sausages and fish fingers then this is a good option.

Quorn is commonplace in all major supermarkets, with larger stores having a better range – the best selection can be found at Waitrose, Sainsburys and larger Tesco stores.

I found changing gym was a big help in my fitness goals, I was previously a member of a few of the 24-hour leading chains and ethics didn’t seem high on their priority list. Now I go to Village Gym, where I’ve spoken to a few other vegetarians and vegans during classes. The bonus here is the on-site Starbucks where I can get a soya latte after!

If you are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, I think it’s all about finding what works for you. Perhaps there are some changes that you will need to adapt, but you will feel positive and confident once you are through that initial adjustment phase - knowing you are doing something to help animals, the environment and yourself!

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morag | mo adore
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