When you tell someone that you are a vegan, one of the first questions you will inevitably be asked is “but how do you get enough protein.” The truth is that vegan diets can have just as much or more protein as meat eaters. Doctors suggest that Adults in the U.S. get 10% to 35% of their day’s calories from protein foods. That’s about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. There are plenty of ways plant-based diets can get plenty of protein. Here is how:
Veggies: Green veggies are an excellent way to get protein. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein. One cup of chopped broccoli contains 8.1 grams. The same serving of French beans has about 13 grams. Two cups of cooked kale is 5 grams. One cup of boiled peas is 9 grams.
Hemp: 2 tablespoons of hemp powder in a smoothie can provide 13-15 grams of protein! Hemp can be found in some cereals and trail mixes, or you can buy hemp seeds (10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons) and add them to smoothies, pestos, or baked goods. Hemp milk can also be a dairy-free way to add protein to your diet, and it’s even lower in calories than skim milk.
Non-Dairy Milk: 1 cup of soy or almond milk can pack about 7-9 grams of protein.
Nut Butter: A couple of tablespoons of any nut butter (peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, etc) will get you 8 grams of protein.
Quinoa: The new miracle food! Quinoa has 8 grams of protein per cup. And it can be used in almost everything: soup or vegetarian chili, served with brown sugar and fruit as a hot breakfast cereal, or tossed with vegetables and a vinaigrette for a salad.
Tofu: Four ounces of tofu is 9 grams of protein.
Lentils & Legumes: With lentils, you can make rice dishes, veggie burgers, casseroles and more. One cup is 18 grams of protein. Foods in the legume family are good sources of vegetarian protein, and peas are no exception: One cup contains 7.9 grams—about the same as a cup of milk.
Sesame, Sunflower, and Poppy Seeds: Sunflower seed kernels contain the most protein—7.3 grams per quarter cup—followed by sesame seeds and poppy seeds at 5.4 grams each. They are great on salads or enjoyed as a snack.
Seitan: A meat substitute seasoned with salt and savory flavors it is loaded with protein—36 grams per half cup (much more than a hamburger without the 17 grams of fat)
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Bet you didn’t know you can get protein from chocolate! Unsweetened cocoa powder—the type used in baking or making hot chocolate from scratch—contains about 1 gram of protein per tablespoon.
Beans: one cup of pinto, kidney or black beans, is 13-15 grams of protein.
Chickpeas : Also known as garbanzo beans, these legumes can be tossed into salads, fried and salted as a crispy snack, or pureed into a hummus. They contain 7.3 grams of protein in just half a cup, and are also high in fiber and low in calories.
Tempeh: One cup is 30 grams of protein! That’s more than 5 eggs! Foods made from soybeans are some of the highest vegetarian sources of protein: Tempeh and tofu, for example, contain about 15 and 20 grams per half cup, respectively. Just make sure these foods are made from non-GMO soy.
Sprouted-grain bread: Pack a sandwich with vegan sprouted-grain bread and you’ll get about 10 grams of protein in the bread alone.
Edamame: A delicious 8.4 grams of protein per half cup, a perfect snack or appetizer.
As you can see, getting enough protein with a plant-based diet is much easier than you think!