By Sammy Caiola
If you’re a vegetarian, you’ve probably been accused, at some point in your life, of being protein-deficient. Your family and friends have probably given you dozens of lectures about how without meat, you’re bound to pass out from anemia or hypothermia or some such thing. As you probably know, that is not true.
But there is some merit to meat eaters’ concerns. The average person needs .037 grams of protein per pound of body weight, according to health.com. For example, if you weigh 125 pounds you need about 46 grams of protein a day. That is a whole lot of spinach.
While diligent vegetarians can probably make the cut with hearty doses of lentils, quinoa and edamame, it requires more preparation and mathematics than I personally have time for in my frantic life as a journalist/Zumba instructor/college student. And that’s just for the bare minimum. If, like me, you’re trying to build up a little muscle (I’m currently training for a Tough Mudder), it may be time to start thinking about a supplement,
Powders and bars might seem scary, but they really do make a great meal replacement or post-workout refueler. Vegans and vegetarians need to be particularly attentive to ingredients though, as many protein supplements use whey, which is a dairy product. To save you the trouble, I talked to a few vegan athletes and made up a short list of snacks that are safe and tasty (well, as tasty as protein supplements get anyway).
1. Vega One Nutritional Shake
Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of myvega.com
A friend of my runs a women’s roller derby team, so she needs her protein supplement in order to stay strong and recover quickly from the many bruises acquired in that particular sport. She swears by the plant-based Vega shake, which is dairy, gluten and soy free and apparently tastes like magic. I haven’t gotten to try it yet, but she recommends the Vanilla Chai flavor. All five flavors contain about 15g of fiber and 6g of protein.
2. Warrior Blend
Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of sunwarrior.com.
Aside from the fact that I really enjoy the name of this product, I also really enjoy the flavor (at least the chocolate one). I mix it with skim milk and it tastes just like Ovaltine to me. I’ve also put it in yogurt and oatmeal and gotten great results. It’s relatively short ingredient list includes pea protein, cranberry protein and hemp protein, adding up to a whopping total of 17g of protein (that’s 34 percent of recommended daily intake!)
3. CLIF mixed nut Mojo bar
Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of clifbar.com.
This one’s less of a meal replacement and more of a great post-workout or hiking snack, but I’m putting it on here anyway because it is super tasty. Made with macadamia nut butter and pretzels, among other things, it is vegan and organic. Surprisingly, so is most of the CLIF line and it’s female-specific line Luna Bar. Note: these guys are pricey so it’s better to buy in bulk.
Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of Squarebar.com
Lots of vegan body builders laud this adorable pocket-sized bar, which is vegan and non-GMO. I might be a little biased because it comes out of my hood (Northern California), but I’ve got high hopes for this new brand, which already has three flavors (cocoa almond, cocoa crunch, and cocoa coconut). With 12g of protein, it can make a nice, square-sized dent in your daily quota.
Note: If you’re just starting on supplements, take it easy at first. Your body is probably not accustomed to handling concentrated vitamins and it may react in an unexpected way. Fiber can be rough on the digestive system and protein causes headaches for some, so consult your physician if you’re concerned about side effects. Otherwise, enjoy the satisfaction of a filling, healthy snack to supplement your squats and bicep curls!