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5 Vegan, Allergen-Free Sources of Protein

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Fifteen million Americans have food allergies and one in every 13 children suffer from food allergies on a daily basis. That number has doubled since 1999 and no one seems to know why. The number one food allergens in the United States include: soy, gluten and wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, sesame, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Of course, other food allergens can occur from other foods. Some common allergens include moldy or fermented foods (chocolate, cheese, vinegar, peanuts, cashews), while many people have no idea what food they’re reacting to when they have an allergic response such as hives, anaphylaxis, itching, digestive upset, or trouble breathing.

Those suffering a food allergy can have a hard time getting enough nutrients into their diet such as protein, especially if they’re eating a plant-based diet. While few people have allergies to meat, that doesn’t mean it’s a health food. Considering a meat-free diet has been linked to tremendous health and environmental benefits, going meat-free is obviously the best choice, allergy or not. Milk, dairy, and eggs are also now being said to be one of the hardest food allergies to outgrow compared to other food allergies, which makes any forms of vegetarian, allergen-free diets virtually impossible.

However, many vegan protein sources are common allergens (namely soy, glutinous grains, peanuts, tree nuts), posing challenges for those with an allergy trying to get enough protein in an otherwise healthy vegan diet. But like anything else, nothing is impossible and there is always a variety of plants that can provide an easy answer to any common health issue including getting enough protein in an allergen-free and vegan diet.

Here are some of the best sources:

1. Hemp

Containing all essential amino acids, this vitamin and mineral-packed powerhouse is one of the best (if not the best) source of easy to digest, allergen-free, plant-based protein. It’s also rich in chlorophyll which you can see by its green hues. This indicates its anti-inflammatory benefits which makes it perfect to add to your diet whether you have a food allergy or not. Hemp seeds are also a rich source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, perfect for those with a fish allergy or who don’t wish to eat mercury-laden fish to get their omega 3 fats. Hemp can easily be added to virtually anything, and it’s a great alternative to grains since it’s rich in fiber, if that’s a concern.

2. Chia

Chia seeds are another seed that is rich in anti-inflammatory benefits along with all essential amino acids. Chia (and hemp) come with added fiber benefits as well. This can be helpful when you’re not able to eat nuts and many grains, typical protein-rich sources of fiber in a plant-based diet. Chia is also beneficial in a plant-based diet since it provides the body with key minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

3. Pea 

Pea protein is an easy to digest and hypoallergenic protein. It’s also grain and gluten-free and high in amino acids similar to whey protein (without the negative effects of whey, of course!) Raw, pea protein isolate is the better form to consume since it’s high in amino acids, easier to assimilate, and is higher in protein than some other forms of pea protein. Always buy non-GMO sources of pea protein whenever possible since it is a frequently genetically modified crop. Pea protein can be used in smoothies, shakes, baked goods, or wherever else you need a protein boost. Or, regular green peas make the perfect substitution to soybeans (edamame).

4. Spirulina

The highest protein source in the world, with more protein than beef per tablespoon, spirulina is a complete source of protein and has 4 grams of protein in just one teaspoon. It’s also the one of the highest sources of chlorophyll on the planet, and is rich in Vitamin B12, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium. Two teaspoons a day would lend you an easy 8 grams of protein, complimentary to other protein sources in a well-rounded, vegan diet. Spirulina is easy to add to smoothies and shakes, easy to digest, and provides many anti-inflammatory benefits that make it well worth adding to your diet.

5. Ancient Grain-Like, Gluten-Free Seeds

Quinoa, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet are all wonderful sources of allergen-free protein. Quinoa and teff are rich in all essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. These seeds are also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Cook them just like you would other grains, whether that being in your morning porridge or in delicious energy bars, baked goods, and a variety of lunch or dinner entrees. 

Other great sources of allergen-free, vegan protein include common vegetables like broccoli, beans, legumes, and leafy greens. Even some allergen-free and grain-free flours such as coconut flour and amaranth flour make it easy to get enough protein in a vegan diet.

If you eat an allergy-free vegan diet, we’d love to hear from you! Share your tips below on how you get enough protein and which sources supplement your diet the best.

Image Source: Mediterranean Spartan-Strength Millet (Gluten-Free and Vegan)



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22 comments on “5 Vegan, Allergen-Free Sources of Protein”

Click to add comment
Chloe Garrod
1 Years Ago

All great apart from- Teff is something that people who are allergic to wheat are likely to be sensitive to- I have a wheat allergy and I am subsequently affected by teff and spelt


Reply
Mike Pandolfo
1 Years Ago

RUN BERNIE RUN! RUN BERNIE RUN! RUN BERNIE RUN!


Reply
Corrine Brandi
1 Years Ago

Every green plant contains protein. 100% marketing hype. We are mostly protein toxic.


Reply
Kara Lynne
1 Years Ago

Carolyn King Lafferty this is a good reference if you're trying to go plant based!


Reply
L. Hoglin
1 Years Ago

A pea is not a grain, it is a legume. To call things hypoallergenic or allergen free is absolutely wrong. Anyone can have an allergy to, or auto-immune system response (sensitivity), to any protein. There are degrees of more and less likely to having a reaction. And if one is allergic to or sensitive to wheat (presumably gluten re sensitivities--by standard tests, for most it is unmeasurable), they are likely to be sensitive to other grains, particularly quinoa, buckwheat, millet, etc. And also hemp.. Oh, and all grains are seeds. Perhaps you could just call them ancient grains?


Reply
Natasha Payne
1 Years Ago

Ebony Dillon


Reply
Bruce Danzara
1 Years Ago

Many plants contain protein quantities by mass that match or even exceed that of beef, poultry and fish. Since 10-20% of calories in most plant foods (legumes, vegetables, and grains) are protein, and humans need only about 5-10% of their calories from protein, by eating a variety of whole plants foods, you will easily attain all of the essential amino acids necessary to sustain proper metabolism and to thrive. Plus, plant protein unlike animal protein is perfectly packaged along with an abundance of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber—all critical components for optimal health & disease prevention. All living beings, plant and animal, are made from the same 20 amino acids. While the sun powers plants; animals (including all the ones that people eat) do not have sufficient metabolic energy to make essential amino acids. This means that animal protein is recycled plant protein. People do best getting their protein directly from plants.


Reply
Xuan Dang
1 Years Ago

yummy.


Reply
Brenna Faker
1 Years Ago

This looks good!


Reply
Holly Go Lightly
1 Years Ago

You probably already know these but just in case;) Jennifer Leeder-Gough


Reply
Jennifer Leeder-Gough
20 Nov 2014

Thank you my sweets!



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