What do Vegans Eat for Protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient for the human body, and it plays a crucial role in building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, and supporting various bodily functions. For us vegans, getting enough protein can be a concern. But it really needn’t be! Do Vegans get enough protein? That’s quite a vague question. Many non-vegans probably don’t get ‘enough’ protein; it really depends on who you are, what protein levels you need, and what you’re eating.

Many plant-based foods are very rich in protein, and a well-planned vegan diet can easily meet the recommended daily intake of protein (and more for you bodybuilders!). Despite this, there are so many common misconceptions about protein in vegan diets, such as the idea that vegans are protein-deficient or that plant-based protein is inferior to animal-based protein. In this article, I will explore what vegans eat for protein and debunk these misconceptions.

Plant-Based Protein Sources

There are many plant-based protein sources that can help vegans meet their daily protein needs. Here are some examples:

  1. Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, edamame, and tofu.
  2. Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
  3. Whole grains: quinoa, brown rice, farro, amaranth, and millet.
  4. Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, peas, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.

Some of these plant-based foods are particularly high in protein. For example, a 100-gram serving of cooked lentils contains around 9 grams of protein, while 100 grams of cooked quinoa has around 4 grams of protein. A 30-gram serving of almonds provides around 6 grams of protein, and a 100-gram serving of tofu has around 8 grams of protein. By including a variety of these plant-based protein sources in their diet, the protein tally begins to creep up, and us vegans can easily meet our daily protein needs.

My Two Minute Vegan Protein Mug Cake

Here it is!

vegan protein mug cake
Two Minute Chocolate Chip Protein Mug Cake (Vegan and Gluten Free)
The most deliciously gooey Chocolate Chip Protein Mug Cake that's ready within 5 minutes, using my new favourite vegan protein powder (keep scrolling to find out more!) Whip this up when you're craving a fuss-free, tasty and comforting sweet treat.
Check out this recipe

Vegan Protein Supplements

While it is certainly possible for vegans to get enough protein from whole foods, protein supplements can be a convenient and effective way to increase protein intake, especially for athletes or those with high protein requirements. Protein supplements can come in various forms such as powders, bars, or shakes, and they are typically made from plant-based sources such as soy, pea, rice, or hemp protein.

Some commonly available vegan protein supplements include:

  1. Pea protein powder
  2. Soy protein powder
  3. Rice protein powder
  4. Hemp protein powder
  5. Vegan protein bars
  6. Vegan protein shakes

It’s worth noting that while protein supplements can be a useful addition to a vegan diet, they should not be relied upon as the sole source of protein. Whole foods are still the best way to get a balanced and varied nutrient intake, including protein. When choosing a protein supplement, it’s important to read the label carefully and choose a product that is free from animal-derived ingredients such as whey or casein.

Combining Protein Sources

While most plant-based foods are not considered “complete proteins” (meaning they do not contain all nine essential amino acids), it’s relatively easy for vegans to get all the amino acids they need by eating a varied diet that includes a mix of different protein sources. By combining different plant-based protein sources, vegans can create complete proteins that provide all nine essential amino acids.

Here are some examples of food combinations that create complete proteins:

  1. Beans and rice: this classic combination creates a complete protein, as beans are low in the amino acid methionine and high in lysine, while rice is the opposite.
  2. Hummus and whole wheat pita: hummus, made from chickpeas, is high in lysine, while whole wheat pita is high in methionine.
  3. Lentil soup with quinoa: lentils are low in methionine and high in lysine, while quinoa is high in methionine and low in lysine.
  4. Peanut butter on whole wheat bread: peanut butter is high in lysine, while whole wheat bread is high in methionine.
  5. Tofu and broccoli stir-fry: tofu is a complete protein, while broccoli is high in methionine.

By combining different plant-based protein sources in this way, vegans can ensure that they are getting all the amino acids they need to support optimal health and nutrition.

My Homemade Vegan Chocolate Protein Bars

Vegan Chocolate Crunch Protein Bars (Gluten Free)
These Vegan Chocolate Crunch Protein Bars are the perfect vegan and gluten free snack. They're incredibly quick and easy to make, suitable for both gluten free and vegan diets, and most importantly, so yummy!
Check out this recipe
chocolate crunch protein bar vegan
protein chocolate bar

How Can Vegans Get 100g of Protein a Day?

100grams of protein is a good amount of protein for almost all humans, but I appreciate for some athletes, more is required. So here’s an outline of how to get enough protein as a vegan.

Breakfast

  • 2 cups of cooked oatmeal (14g protein) topped with 1 scoop of vegan protein powder (20g protein)
  • 1 cup of soy milk (7g protein)
  • 1 sliced banana

Total protein: 41g

Mid-Morning Snack

  • 1 apple
  • 2 tbsp of peanut butter (8g protein)

Total protein: 8g

Lunch

  • 2 cups of quinoa (16g protein)
  • 1 cup of black beans (15g protein)
  • 1 cup of mixed vegetables (3g protein)
  • 1/2 sliced avocado

Total protein: 34g

Afternoon Snack

  • 1 cup of edamame beans (18g protein)

Total protein: 18g

Dinner

  • 1 block of tofu (20g protein) stir-fried with mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups of brown rice (10g protein)

Total protein: 30g

Evening Snack

  • 2 cups of air-popped popcorn (4g protein)
  • 1 scoop of vegan protein powder (20g protein)

Total protein: 24g

Total protein intake for the day: 155g (well over the 100g of protein)

In order to reach even higher numbers, e.g. 200 grams of protein per day, you can add additional protein sources such as vegan protein bars or shakes, or increase the serving sizes of the protein-rich foods included in this meal plan. It’s also important to balance your macronutrient intake by including sources of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates in each meal.

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