We’ve all heard it as children – “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you!” Now as adults with a lot of options, we care about WHY they’re good for us and the impact they’ll make on our bodies. With the wide range of vegetables available throughout the world, how do you choose the ones that will build muscle and help you meet your fitness goals? Fortunately for vegans who are concerned about fitness, we’ve compiled a list of the most protein-packed veggies!
The Wide World of Vegetables
Do you know how many types of vegetables there are in the world?
There are over 200 types of veggies, and each one can have thousands of variations. While some are more popular than others, it can be difficult to tell which are the best for you, especially if you want to grow muscle. Get more familiar with these plant-based foods by finding out how they’re different from fruits, their much sweeter counterparts.
How are Vegetables Different from Fruit?
Fruits and vegetables share such a close relationship that they ended up categorized in the same food group. But what’s the difference between these plant-based staples? Put simply, vegetables are an actual part of the plant, but fruits are the ovary that falls off the tree. Some confusion takes place in the case of avocados and tomatoes for example, but they are technically fruits that often get confused for veggies due to their non-sweet flavors.
Veggies Can Help you Grow Muscle?
Vegan bodybuilders typically look to beans, nuts, and seeds for growing muscle. Vegetables are often overlooked for their muscle-building properties, but a number of them are rich in protein and other necessary nutrients. Knowing the vegetables that you can depend on for building muscle can redefine how you approach being an active vegan.
Abbreviated List of High Protein Vegetables
The Ultimate List of 10 Veggies that Pack a Punch
If you care about bulking up and aren’t yet sure how vegetables can help, this is the list for you. Certain vegetables go beyond being superfoods, and actually have enough protein to support muscle growth. If you don’t follow raw veganism, then each of the veggies on this list can also be consumed in creative recipes – we’ve provided a suggestion for each food on the list. Our top vegetables that contain ample amounts of protein per serving include:
Peas are a bite-size pod veggie that contains 8g of protein per cup. That’s not the only reason to keep your fridge stocked with peas either. With high levels of vitamin A, C, iron, phosphorous, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, peas are one of the best superfoods of the vegan diet.
Fun Fact about Peas: Did you know that peas were a food staple for ancient Romans? They grew at least 37 varieties of peas.
Try this Vegan Pea Recipe: Indian Style Quinoa and Peas
2. Lima Beans
Named after their city of origin, Lima, Peru, lima beans are among the most underrated power foods. It only takes a ¼ cup of lima beans to acquire about 10g of protein, making them one of the most potent vegetables on the planet. Combine them with corn to make succotash for a colorful blend of veggies that is filling and rich in nutrients.
Fun Facts about Lima Beans: There are three types of lima beans: dwarf, small, and large.
Try this Vegan Lima Bean Recipe: Sweet Potato and Lima Bean Soup
3. White Mushrooms
As a light, flavorful fungus, mushrooms are among the most unique vegetables known to man. For vegans who care about staying fit, mushrooms are worth keeping on hand for a number of reasons. Since 5 medium sized mushrooms have 3g of protein and 300mg potassium with just 20 calories, it’s easy to see how mushrooms can help you meet your macros.
Fun Fact about Mushrooms: A 2,200 acre mushroom in Oregon that is recognized as the largest living organism on the planet.
Try this Vegan White Mushroom Recipe: Three Mushroom Tagliatelle With Garlic Sauce
Extremely versatile and filling, potatoes are eaten in most cultures and are ideal in a wide range of cuisine. A single potato has 3-4 grams of protein, in addition to being low in fat and rich in carbohydrates. Vegans who avoid carbs from bread can get sufficient carbs from potatoes. Popular and inexpensive, potatoes can form the cornerstone of many vegan recipes.
Fun Fact about the Potato: While everyone knows the state that produces the most potatoes is Idaho, but do you know which country grows the most? Although they’re used most in Europe, China produces the most potatoes of any country.
Try this Vegan Potato Recipe: Spicy Vegan Potato Curry
Resembling a long green french fry in appearance, asparagus is a verifiable superfood that also packs a solid supply of protein. Whether raw or prepared with oil and seasoning, asparagus is a highly snackable food. It only takes four spears of this long, green vegetable to get about 2g of protein, so try adding some asparagus to your next meal for the extra boost.
Fun Fact about Asparagus: Did you know that asparagus is only edible before it starts to fan out – then it becomes hard and woody.
Try this Vegan Asparagus Recipe: Vegan Asparagus Phyllo Rolls
A protein-rich vegetable that is worthy of a spot in your fridge for many reasons, spinach is excellent cooked or in salads. Featured heavily in Italian cuisine and immortalized as the food that gives Popeye his strength, spinach is the quintessential power veggie. If you’re a vegan who’s concerned about fitness, spinach deserves a regular spot on your grocery list.
Fun Fact about Spinach: The name for any dish served on a bed of spinach is “Florentine”.
Try this Vegan Spinach Recipe: Vegan Tofu and Spinach Scramble
7. Sweet Corn
What’s your favorite way to eat corn? As one of the most popular vegetables throughout the world, corn has been a crucial part of the human diet for centuries. Corn is used for a massive variety of products ranging from oils to tortillas, starches to ethanol. Whether you buy it on the cob or out of the can, corn is a legitimate source of protein packing 3-5g per serving.
Fun Fact about Sweet Corn: Sweet corn and beans are each missing a crucial nutrient that is robust in the other, so they are frequently eaten together throughout Mexico and South America.
Try this Vegan Corn Recipe: Corn and Garbanzo Bean Patties
Aside from being a superfood rich in vitamin C, K, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber, broccoli is also a reliable source of protein, with about 3g per 100g serving. Broccoli was first cultivated over 2000 years ago in Italy but is often eaten in Chinese, American, and other world cuisines as well. Whether you eat it raw, steamed, or cooked up in a stir fry like in the recipe below, broccoli is a legitimate veggie superfood that is definitely worthy of a spot on your plate.
Fun Fact about Broccoli: There are three main types of broccoli: Purple Cauliflower, Sprouting Broccoli, and Calabrese Broccoli.
Try this Vegan Broccoli Recipe: Vegan Broccoli Balls with Marinara Sauce
9. Green Beans
Although it has “beans” in the name, green beans are considered a veggie and they have excellent fiber and a decent supply of protein. The “green” aspect of green beans implies they have lots of vitamins which they do – green beans are a reliable source for 21 vital nutrients. No matter how you get your green beans, fit-conscious vegans should consider including them in their next meal.
Fun Facts about Green Beans: Ever think you’ve tasted different types of green beans? You probably have – there are more than 130 different known varieties of green beans.
Try this Vegan Green Bean Recipe: Super Flax Green Bean Fries
Unlike any other vegetable in both appearance and taste, people often need instructions to properly prepare the artichoke. Fresh artichokes are a great source of folic acid, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Artichokes are also valuable for the minerals they offer and are rich in iron, copper, potassium, manganese, and phosphorous. With 3-4g of protein per 100g serving, don’t underestimate the artichoke when writing your meal plan.
Fun Fact about the Artichoke: Did you know that the Italians make an artichoke flavored liquor? It’s called Cynar and it has 16.5% alcohol.
Try this Vegan Artichoke Recipe: Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Build your Beach Body with the Power of Veggies
If you’re vegan, it’s in your interest to experiment with the hundreds of types of vegetables that are available. For vegans who like to maintain a shredded body, narrowing your search to the veggies that provide useful nutrients is a fruitful endeavor. When you’re fueling up for your workouts and including all the high-protein beans, seeds, and nuts of the vegan diet, consider taking mom’s advice and finishing your vegetables – your body will be healthier for it.