One of the biggest surprises I had when first becoming vegan was realizing that common everyday grain products like bread (wheat) and rice have protein. Not only that, they have a lot of protein! Depending on what type of bread you get, you can easily pick up 2-5 grams of protein per SLICE.
Not only that, there are so many grains that most of us don’t normally eat, but they’re right there at most grocery stores, and they are not only excellent sources of protein, but an awesome way to switch things up to keep meals fresh and interesting. Sure, you may love quinoa, but you probably don’t want to eat it every day. You can easily swap quinoa with couscous, farro or wild rice to have what feels like a completely different meal. Baking with different types of flour (buckwheat pancakes anyone?) is another way to incorporate variety into your diet beyond just the standard all purpose flour (wheat) products that we all know and to be fair, love, but there’s many more grains out there to love my friends.
One important thing to note about grains is that you shouldn’t focus on eating a lot of rice or rice products unless you know where that rice was grown. A little is fine, but don’t do what I did and suddenly realize that rice has protein and start drinking rice milk and eating rice crackers, rice cakes, plain rice and so on because many kinds of rice are grown on fields that once used chicken manure as a fertilizer, and since arsenic was fed to the chickens (to keep them free of parasites – yep, bet you didn’t realize you were consuming arsenic with that chicken dinner), rice now contains high levels of arsenic. There is so much arsenic in rice that rice milk is not recommended for infants. A little is fine, have rice with your dinner once or twice a week, but be aware of this issue if you plan on eating other rice products as well. Wild rice is the kind that contains the most amount of protein, and also has the lowest likelihood of containing arsenic, so that’s the one we’d recommend consuming the most if possible.
Here are some grains to look for:
- Bulgur wheat
- Rice (wild rice is highest protein)
- Sorghum wheat