There are so many reasons to adopt a plant-based diet, from taking care of your health to looking out for the environment. Whatever your reasons are, you're probably wondering where do I get my protein as a vegan if I'm not eating animal products like chicken, turkey, eggs, and whey? Animal protein contains all the essential amino acids you need in your diet, but you can get all the protein you need from plant-based products — it just takes a little more effort. The vegan diet might add more variety of protein sources to your diet, by adding things like legumes, rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Vegan or not, it is important to make sure you are getting enough protein (anywhere from 36 to 135 grams depending on your weight and activity levels). Not only does protein promote muscle building and maintenance, but it also regulates appetite and controls hunger. Here are just a few ways to guarantee you hit your protein daily goal as a vegan.
Find a Vegan Protein Powder
Whey protein, which comes from milk, is out of the question for vegans. Jennifer Weare, RHN, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Hol: Life Hub, says that vegan proteins are hypoallergenic, meaning that it is very unlikely for your body to respond to them in a negative way. You can add it to just about anything like your bowl of cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix, or baked goods. There are a ton of great-tasting varieties out there, but the best kind of protein powder is made of brown rice and pea protein, because it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Choose Snacks High in Protein
Snacking as a vegan when you're in a hurry could mean reaching for a bag of chips on the regular. Instead, try choosing a non-packaged snack high in protein to make sure you are hitting your daily goal. Try toasting some chickpeas for a crunchy snack, packing some edamame (a cup has 17 grams of protein), or make a delicious and refreshing chocolate protein shake.
If you just don't have the time and need something you can easily pick up at the supermarket, you can choose a tasty protein-pack bar, like GoMacro Vegan Protein Bar Sampler Pack ($35) or a Silk Vanilla Dairy-Free Yogurt ($1).
Add Nuts and Seeds to Everything
Nuts and seeds are so versatile and although they are not super high in protein, they still give your diet an extra boost. Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and almonds are your best bet, if you're looking for the most protein. You can sprinkle some on top of a salad or stir fry. You can also add a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter into your protein shakes.
Incorporate Meat Substitutes Into Meals
There are so many meat alternatives out there (some even taste just like meat), mostly made with tofu, tempeh, seitan, jackfruit, mushrooms, lentils, and beans. They can be fried, grilled, or sautéed and added to a salad, stir fry or pasta. Tofu can be turned into a scramble to resemble eggs or you can use lentils and beans to make a vegetarian patty packed with protein.
There are also products more and more products filled with plant-based proteins, like Banza Chickpea Pasta. Just one serving has 25 grams of protein (versus traditional pasta at around 13 grams), and you can make so many delicious dishes with it.