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If you’re ready to reduce your meat intake, it’s important to add plant-based protein sources to your diet.
Whether you’re simply trying to cut back on meat or if you’re turning vegan, these vegan protein sources are nutrient-dense, delicious and affordable.
It’s a common misconception that plant-based diets don’t provide enough protein.
This is simply not true.
In fact, there are more plant-based or vegan protein sources than meat options.
Learn how to follow a high protein diet without meat with these vegan protein sources.
Try adding these foods to your diet to reach your body’s protein needs with less meat and more nutrients.
Why Do We Need Protein in Our Diet?
Protein is an essential macronutrient our body requires to function properly.
It’s the main building block of our bodies and is found in every cell.
Protein is broken down by our bodies into 9 types of amino acids. Foods that contain all 9 amino acids are considered “complete” proteins.
Your body needs protein for cell repair, growth, and development.
Protein also helps enzymes, hormones, muscles, and tissues grow and function properly (MedLine).
How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day?
According to HealthLine, the average man requires 56 grams of protein per day and the average woman requires 48 grams per day.
These numbers go up as you’re more active in order to help your cells rebuild and repair.
Can Eating Protein Help Me Lose Weight?
Yes! Studies have shown that higher-protein diets are effective for helping people lose weight and maintain weight loss in comparison to low-protein diets.
Protein helps boost your metabolism, keep you full and satisfied, and reduce caloric intake.
Plus, plant-based protein sources tend to be lower in calories and fat, so you’re more likely to lose weight while staying full.
Aim for 25-35% of your total caloric intake to be from protein.
Best Vegan Protein Sources
As you can see, protein is really important if you want to lose weight, increase your metabolism, and live a healthy lifestyle.
However, many times when somebody decides to become vegan or vegetarian, they forget the importance of protein in their diets.
Learn how to eat enough protein without meat through the best plant-based protein sources.
Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
Chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. Plus they’re easy to add to almost any dish since they’re mild in flavor.
Recently, many companies have been exploring chickpeas as a replacement for flour in pasta and rice.
If you haven’t tried it yet, Banza pasta is the best plant-based pasta.
You get the satisfaction out of eating pasta with fewer carbs, no white flour, and loads of protein.
One cup of cooked chickpeas provides about 15 g of protein.
Chickpeas are very affordable, easy to prepare and very accessible. Simply heat them up and add to any dishes for an easy protein source.
All beans including black beans are nutrient-dense, high protein options. Beans are perfect in stews, soups, tacos, on top of salads, or in stir-fries.
A 1/2 cup serving of black beans provides 5 grams of protein.
Black beans are inexpensive and easy to prepare. Make sure to opt for low-sodium options if you’re buying canned black beans.
Nuts are a perfect snack or addition to any meal.
Whichever nuts you prefer, they typically provide about 5 to 6g of protein in 1/4 cup.
Nuts are high in healthy fat, but they’re also high in calories. Be mindful of how many nuts you eat because they do add up quickly.
Nut butters are an easy way to add protein to smoothies, lunches, and stir-frys.
For all of you cheese lovers, nutritional yeast will soon become your best friend. It’s used in many recipes to replace the cheeselike flavor you crave.
Nutritional yeast is also loaded with protein and nutrients including b vitamins.
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast provides 8 grams of protein.
Nutritional yeast is a perfect addition to any sauce, dressing, or even popcorn.
Tofu is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.
A 3 oz serving of tofu contains approximately 8 grams of protein.
Tofu is a soy-based protein that has gotten a bad rep for being linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
However, according to the American Cancer Society, there does not appear to be a link between tofu and breast cancer.
Tofu is an excellent addition to stir-frys and other one-pan dishes.
It is also inexpensive, typically costing around $2-4 per block.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a great source of protein, magnesium, and antioxidants.
1/4 cup serving provides about 8 grams of protein.
Pumpkin seeds make a perfect salad topper or you can roast them and make them a tasty snack on their own.
You may be familiar with warm edamame loaded with salt at Japanese restaurants.
Edamame is actually a surprisingly nutrient-dense high protein food. A serving of edamame contains calcium, iron, vitamin k, fiber, and a lot of protein.
One cup of edamame is loaded with 18 grams of protein.
I keep a bag of frozen shelled edamame in my freezer and add it to stir-fries, pasta, and other dishes for a quick protein boost.
Lentils are a healthy grain that is high in fiber, protein, iron, and potassium.
A 1/2 cup of cooked lentils contains over 8 grams of protein.
Lentils are incredibly versatile and can be added to soups, stews, rice, stir-fry, and other dishes.
Lentils also make a great meat-substitute if you’re trying to replace some of your favorite meat dishes such as a bolognese sauce.
Quinoa is a staple in our household. It’s high in protein, low in carbohydrates,and pairs perfectly in many dishes.
1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein.
If you’re trying to reduce your carb intake and eat more protein, quinoa is a perfect rice substitute.
Quinoa is also great in salads, as a breakfast food instead of oats, or in soups.
Learn how to cook quinoa in your pressure cooker here.
Flax seeds are a lower source of protein than others on this list, but are still a plant-based superfood.
One tablespoon of flax seeds provides 2 grams of protein.
In addition, flax seeds are high in fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium, folate, and potassium.
Flax seeds can be added to salads, smoothies or breads. Also, ground flax seeds make a great egg substitute while you’re baking.
Chia seeds are a small, but mighty source of protein.
One tablespoon of chia seeds is loaded with 6 grams of protein.
Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds are a perfect addition to smoothies, salads, or addition to breads or muffins. Also, you can soak chia seeds and make chia pudding which is a tasty snack or breakfast.
This list wouldn’t be complete without my personal favorite, peanut butter. Peanuts are technically legumes and not nuts, so they fall into their own category.
Similarly to nuts, peanut butter is high in protein- about 7 g per 2 tablespoons, but also high in fat.
Enjoy in your oatmeal, smoothies, on a sandwich, on apples, or just a spoonful as a quick snack.
Make sure to keep an eye on your portion though, because 2 tablespoons provide 180 calories.
Oats are a favorite in our house, especially in the cold winter months.
One half-cup serving of oatmeal provides 6 grams of protein.
If you top it with your favorite nuts or seeds, you’ll have a very high protein well-balanced breakfast.
Oats are also high in fiber which helps keep you full all morning.
Oats can be prepared sweet or savory, so whatever your morning preference is, you can find a recipe that works for you.
Another really easy way to add protein to your diet is through plant-based protein powders.
You can add protein powder to smoothies, baked goods, or cereal to have a higher protein meal.
I love Orgain which is vegan, organic, and incredibly flavorful.
Each serving of Orgain Protein Powder contains 21 grams of protein.
Try it out today and use my discount code: MINDFULMAMA to save 30% on your first order!
Spirulina is a type of algae that’s loaded with nutrients. Each tablespoon serving contains niacin, riboflavin, copper, iron, and protein. It’s also high in fatty acids and antioxidants.
One tablespoon of spirulina contains 4 grams of protein.
Despite all of these nutrients and high protein levels, spirulina is only 20 calories per serving. This makes it a dietary superfood that is incredibly nutrient-dense without leading to excess weight gain (Health.com).
Spirulina does have a potent taste though, so if you’re new to eating it, try adding just a little at a time to your smoothies.
Best Vegan Protein Sources
Whether you’re going vegan or just trying to practice more meatless Mondays, try adding more of these vegan protein sources to your diet.
You’ll be amazed by how full and satisfied you can be from a diet without any animal protein.
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