The first concern that seems to come up when someone mentions that they are vegan (or even vegetarian) is: “are you getting enough protein?”. Protein deficiency is quite rare in the western world and as long as you eat a varied and somewhat healthy diet, you are most likely getting enough. Even if you only eat plants. Because what some people fail to understand is that veggies also contain protein.
Still, if you want to make a balanced dinner that is sure to satisfy your protein needs, there are some foods that are more suitable than others (unless you feel like eating 50+ cucumbers per meal…).
Tofu is a soy-based protein often used in vegan cooking. For a long time I did not understand tofu, I though it was bland and had a weird consistency and could not understand why anyone would eat it out of free will. Today I cook a lot with tofu and know that the trick is to use the right type of tofu and to not eat it without marinade or spice.
Made with wheat protein (gluten) and sometimes called mock duck/chicken in restaurants, seitan is a great substitute for chicken and poultry in dishes. It is great for marinating and spicing since it easily absorbs fluids and flavours.
Similar to tofu, but is made with fermented legumes. Can be marinated and flavoured just like tofu and seitan and can be cooked in several ways; fried, ovenbaked or as part of a stew.
Probably my favourite out of the vegan proteins. It’s cheap, tasty (in my opinion) and if you buy the cooked beans you can have a dinner ready in 15 minutes or less!
Lentils are a great source of protein. In addition, they are cheap and quite easy to cook. I like them mostly in soups and casseroles but they work on their own as well.
Most know that nuts are high in healthy fats, but they also contain a decent amount of protein. Since nuts are high in fat they are also quite caloric so I don’t build meals around them. Instead, I like them as an add-on on stews, bowl and similar, or make a pesto or sauce.
Like mentioned above, vegetables contain protein. Some of the most protein packed ones are potatoes, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and cauliflower. So by eating a big variety of vegetables you will get a big chance of satisfying your daily need.
This option might not the best regarding the environment or the price, but I like to include it as an option as it is simple and fast, which makes it more accessible. For people switching over to a more plant-based diet this is often a given, since it gives the opportunity to cook similar dishes to before. However, I think it’s important to not get stuck in just cooking substitutes since they can be quite bland and expensive. My favourite brands for substitutes are the Swedish brands Anamma and Oumph!