Have you ever wondered if you’re getting enough plant-based protein in your vegan diet? Find out how to meet your daily protein requirements.
“So … how do you get your protein?” Hands up if you’ve ever been asked this question as a vegan. If you struggle to find a good comeback, this is the article for you.
Protein is, of course, an essential macronutrient. It functions as the building block for hormones, muscle tissue, bones, enzymes, and much more. But with meat and eggs out of the picture for those following a vegan diet, what is the optimal daily amount of plant-based protein to consume?
If you are new to veganism, you might also enjoy reading What Can Vegans Eat? And What Do Vegans Not Eat?
The skinny on animal and plant-based protein
How much protein do we really need in order for our bodies to thrive? The RDA recommends a daily intake of 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh. In simpler terms, this minimum protein intake works out as 15% of your total calories for the day. Is the recommended plant-based protein amount any different?
Well, no. Despite the widespread myth of plant-based protein being “incomplete”, or somewhat inferior to animal-based protein, the nutritional recommendations remain the same for meat-eaters and vegans alike. Any amount of protein between 15% and 25% of daily total calorie intake will ensure your body is well taken care of.
Vegan protein you need in your shopping basket
The easiest way to make sure you get enough protein in your diet is to include at least one protein-heavy vegan food in every meal. Are you in need of some inspiration?
Get your grocery shopping list out as we break down how to get enough plant-based protein on a vegan diet.
Don’t underestimate the power of soy! Many products that vegans regularly eat contain the humble soybean. For example, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and mock meats are all very popular in the vegan world. One hundred grams of soybeans, provide around 36 grams of protein. This makes it a terrific source of plant-based protein that is convenient and healthy for you.
Seitan is essentially wheat’s secret weapon: vital wheat gluten is a great source of vegan protein, providing around 20 grams of protein per serving, while being extremely low in carbs and fat. Versatile, tasty and protein-packed, this is the perfect meat substitute for the health-conscious – just check for any gluten intolerances first!
Try your hand at cooking seitan with this Simple Vegan Fried Chicken Recipe.
Beans, legumes, and lentils
Beans and lentils are vegan diet staples. And, while not being as high in protein as tofu or seitan, they still provide an average of 10-15 grams of protein per 100 grams. If you’re looking for the best sources: white beans, all types of lentils, chickpeas, and navy beans come out on top. Peanut butter, although quite high in fat, is also a convenient source of vegan protein – packing 7 grams of protein per two tablespoons.
Vegan protein powder
Looking for a morning protein boost? There’s nothing wrong with a little plant-based protein powder to easily achieve your daily protein needs. They come in a variety of tasty flavors. Just a scoop in your morning oatmeal or smoothie can keep you full for hours with an average of 20 grams of protein!
Protein is a major component of many plant-based foods, and while it is relatively easy for vegans to get enough, its importance should not be ignored. A healthy and varied vegan diet, well-planned and balanced in its macronutrient ratio, should naturally address all nutritional needs.
To find out more about the health benefits of the vegan diet, read: Is a Vegan Diet Healthy? And What Does a Vegan Diet Look Like?
For protein-rich dinner ideas, try our Vegan Meatloaf with Mushrooms and Lentils or these Quick and Easy Vegan Burgers