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Food for Thought by Member Services Representative Courtney Santoro

I have been a vegan for two years which means I don’t eat any animal products.  No meat, no dairy, no fish, no eggs, not anything from animals.  One of the most common reactions I get from others about this is, “But where do you get your protein?” 

Most of us know that protein is an important nutrient.  However, it seems widely unknown that there are many other alternatives to meat for our protein source.  I am by no means an expert on nutrition, but I am really interested in it and love to learn about it.  Two years ago I was eating meat and dairy every day.  Ever since I adopted a vegan diet, I’ve really enjoyed discovering all of the plant-based and whole food protein sources, as well as many delicious meat alternatives.

Did you know that plant-based protein sources often have a significantly lower percentage of calories from fat than animal protein sources?  For example, 80% of a steak’s calories are from fat (mostly saturated), while only about 5% of a cup of beans’ calories are from fat (unsaturated).  Plant-based sources also tend to be higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates, AND they are cholesterol-free. 

Some plant-based protein sources:

Legumes – beans, peas, lentils

Grains– oats, quinoa, rice

Vegetables – kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli

Some tasty meat alternatives that are high in protein:


It’s made from soybeans.  Pretty bland all by itself, but it absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients you pair it with.  It’s high in protein and iron, low in fat and calories.  Tofu is also an amazing alternative to eggs.  When you break it up into an eggy texture and cook it with other vegetables and seasoning, you can make some really convincing tofu scrambles!


My personal favorite.  It’s also made from soybeans, but it has a firm, nutty texture.  Originally from Indonesia, but it’s becoming more and more popular here.  You can find it in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, and they even have different flavors now – like maple bacon or sesame garlic.  You can cut it into strips, or break it down like ground meat before cooking it.  I like to put it in tacos, use it in a vegan “Bolognese”, mix it into vegetable stir fries, or use it as the bacon in a vegan BLT.


Veggie burgers or sausages

Veggie burgers are delicious.  You just have to find the right kind.  I’ve had them that are boring tasting, and others that are super tasty.  Have you ever had a black bean burger?  You definitely need to try one.  My boyfriend is not at all a vegetarian, but even now he prefers veggie burgers…… sometimes.  He likes that they never make him feel overly full and weighed down.  Vegetarian sausages are also available at most grocery stores.  I love the Field Roast brand and all of their different flavors.    


So now you have an idea of other protein sources that do not come from animals.  There is also a lot of research under way to create more plant-based alternatives to meat.  You can check out this Bill Gates video (it’s only about a minute long) that explains more about “The Science Behind Plant-Based Proteins”:



Courtney Santoro

Member Services Representative



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