Can You Get Enough Protein On A Plant-Based Diet?
If you’re curious about going vegan or vegetarian, you’re far from the only one. Interest in plant-based diets has hit an all-time high in 2020, according to a report by Chef’s Pencil.
Since we know protein is important for staying full, fueling our workouts and building muscle, we have to wonder: is it possible to have a plant-based diet and still get enough protein? Maybe you should ask Olympic tennis player Venus Williams, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, or Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris – because all of these elite athletes maintain plant-based diets.
It turns out, protein isn’t that hard to find! You’re probably familiar with one popular vegetarian protein source: eggs. Since vegans don’t eat any animal products, they stay away from eggs, cheese and dairy—so where do they go for their protein fix?
1. They’re all about that soy!
Tofu, edamame and tempeh, all soy products, are among the richest sources of protein in a plant-based diet. Edamame is an awesome high-protein snack – you can buy it frozen by the bag at your local grocery store and defrost in the microwave. Tofu takes on the flavors of whatever plant-based recipe you’re cooking and is super versatile.
2. Legumes, legumes, legumes
Lentils and chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are legumes and are packed with nutrients, fiber and protein. If you’ve never tried eating lentils, try using them instead of meat in your favorite stew or curry recipe. Chickpeas are delicious in salads, soups, sandwiches, or you can make your own healthy hummus.
3. We’re nuts for nuts
We’ve all enjoyed a handful of trail mix during a long hike, but plant-based eaters know that nuts and seeds can be incorporated creatively into regular meals. Nuts can be tossed on salads or eaten in oatmeal or with yogurt—but have you ever tried nuts in a savory dish? Try adding cashews, pecans or almonds to your favorite stir-fry or sprinkle pecans over mashed sweet potatoes. Oh, and don’t forget peanut butter!
4. Quinoa, a high-protein grain
Cooked quinoa actually contains 8 grams of protein per cup! Quinoa can be tough to learn how to cook (and pronounce), so make sure to check out our guide to quinoa, complete with recipes!
5. Seeds, please
Chia seeds are called a superfood for a reason. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains two grams of protein and four grams of fiber. Popular ways to enjoy chia seeds are blended into a smoothie or added to overnight oats.
6. Veggies for protein?
Broccoli, mushrooms and kale are at the top of our list of high-protein vegetables. A single medium stalk of broccoli contains about 4 grams of protein!
7. A plant-based best kept secret
Are you eating your nooch?! Better known as nutritional yeast, this protein source has been part of vegan diets for decades but has recently been gaining popularity amongst the omnivores. With very little fat and sodium, nutritional yeast boasts about nine grams of complete protein and four grams of fiber in two tablespoons. It has a sort of nutty, cheesy, umami flavor profile and can be added to soups and stews, sprinkled on popcorn or pasta, and is popular in recipes for vegan cheese sauces.