When following a plant based diet one of the most important things to consider is your choice of protein. This is because animal-based protein sources provide us with key nutrients which play an important role in our health and wellbeing. Not only do we want to be consuming food that tastes good and has a similar texture, it’s also important to eat vegan or vegetarian foods with a similar nutrient profile.
What should we look for in plant based protein sources?
When following a vegan or vegetarian diet, making educated choices about your protein sources is essential. Plant based foods can be excellent sources of protein however some of the foods used to replace protein are not nutritionally equivalent. The key nutrients in animal-based protein are iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. These can all be found in plant-based protein sources except for vitamin B12. Therefore, if you are following a strict vegan diet, we would recommend speaking to a dietitian about supplementing with vitamin B12.
What you need to know about low FODMAP legumes
When it comes to legumes and FODMAPs, it’s all about portion size, type and cooking method. Many legumes are high FODMAP, since they contain galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). You might be thinking it must be easier to exclude legumes altogether. However, legumes contain key nutrients including iron, zinc and fibre, therefore we want to include them in our diet wherever possible. The good news is canned legumes tend to be lower in FODMAPs than dried legumes. Below are some low FODMAP serves of legumes:
• ¼ cup canned chickpeas, butter beans, black beans
• ½ cup canned lentils
We recommend including legumes in your diet (in FODMAP-friendly amounts) for the great gut-health benefits they offer. Legumes are a good source of pre-biotic fibre which can help to keep our gut microbes happy and healthy. Be sure to watch your portion sizes and the amount of GOS in the other foods you are consuming at the same time. Check out our article about FODMAP stacking to learn more about this!
Low FODMAP plant based protein sources
To make sure we are meeting our daily protein needs we should be aiming for 2-3 serves of protein per day depending on your age, gender and activity levels. One serve of protein is 2 eggs, 170g of tofu or 30g (a small handful) of nuts and seeds. Below is a list of vegan or vegetarian protein sources which are low FODMAP per serve:
• Eggs (if lacto-ovo vegetarian)
• Low FODMAP nuts (check out our article to learn more)
• Tofu, plain (firm)
• Tempe, plain
• Vegetarian mince (mycoprotein, unflavoured)
Including a mix of the above low FODMAP protein sources in your diet will help you meet your protein and micronutrient needs. Be sure to include a mix of low FODMAP nuts and seeds such as walnuts and chia seeds to help you meet your omega-3 needs on a vegan/vegetarian diet.