If you’re vegan or vegetarian chances are high that someone has asked you how and if you eat enough protein. Or maybe you’re someone who has wondered yourself.
The truth is it’s possible to be a vegan or live a primarily vegan lifestyle AND get enough protein. It just takes planning. Sooo, let’s talk tasty vegan protein ideas.
But, first, full disclosure – I am not a practicing vegan. I experimented with a strictly vegan diet for about ten months. While there were many things I loved about it, ultimately I found that it wasn’t sustainable for my lifestyle to eat a 100% vegan diet. I’m often in a position where I am not completely in control of my meals. And I personally struggled to make sure I ate enough protein on a daily basis.
As for me… these days I enjoy a diet high in plants with some sustainable seafood thrown in for good measure. (I could call myself a pescetarian but for some reason I always think that word sounds pretentious.)
Anyway, back to veganism. How do vegans get their protein? What do they eat if they’re not having meat and fish? This post is intended for those who are looking to add more healthy protein to their diet – vegan or not. There are non-animal sources out there that even a carnivore might enjoy.
6 Tasty Vegan Protein Ideas:
It’s probably my favorite vegan protein source. Edamame is awesome plain, straight from the pod or shelled, on top of salads and in stir-frys. I often buy the pre-shelled kind that you can boil and ready in 5 minutes.
Protein count: Edamame has a cool 17g of protein per cup.
Ah, the slightly controversial and often mispronounced quinoa. Quinoa has been dubbed a “complete protein,” which is one that contains all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa looks and tastes like a grain but it’s actually a seed. You can do so much with it! I like to use it as a salad base along with greens, as quinoa risotto or even for breakfast a la quinoa porridge.
Protein count: 1 cup of quinoa provides roughly 10g of complete protein.
Whether you like pinto, black or kidney beans, you’re in luck. Almost all beans provide an excellent dose of protein. They also happen to be affordable and easy to cook.
Protein count: One cup of beans provides about 13-15 grams.
I’ve gotten really into tempeh in recent years. The texture is firmer than tofu and I find it very versatile. Tempeh (similar to tofu) absorbs the flavor of whatever it’s cooked in. This Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh from 101 cookbooks has become a go-to dinner. If you’re reluctant to try tempeh, my advice is to sample it marinated with a favorite sauce. It’s also good blackened, steamed or crumbled into sauces and stews.
Protein count: A four-ounce serving of tempeh provides about 18 grams of vegetarian protein.
If you’ve been reading Green Philly for awhile you might recall that I’m a former tofu hater. And this crispy tofu recipe is what changed it all for me. Although I still prefer my tofu crispy, there’s a ton of different ways to enjoy it: breakfast scrambles, in smoothies, salads or stir frys. Check out these 53 recipes for tofu inspiration.
Protein count: One cup clocks in at 20 grams.
6. Non dairy milk
Soy and almond milk are good sources of vegetarian protein. I personally love the taste of almond milk and use it in cereal, smoothies, hot chocolate and baked goods. Soy is higher in protein but there is debatable research showing potential drawbacks to soy – including interference with female progesterone production, decrease in sperm count and problems with thyroid hormone receptors. However, most experts seem to agree that soy in moderation is fine for most people.
Protein count: One cup of soy milk provides 8 grams of protein. Almond milk provides 4 grams.
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