Vegans and vegetarians are often bombarded with questions about how they get enough protein. Many parents, peers, teachers, and coworkers will insist that without meat, vegans are certainly protein deficient.
This argument may be used to convince vegans about the health dangers of their diet, and even nutrition stores will try to convince vegans that they need protein supplements. However, it is a proven fact that vegans naturally get enough protein if they eat a varied diet.
Many foods contain protein that people would not typically expect because they don’t really know where all the protein comes from. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise that each person only needs approximately 0.4 grams of protein per pound of their weight each day.
Since plant proteins are different from meat proteins, vegans should aim to consume 0.41 grams of protein per pound each day. This amounts to almost 10% of daily calorie intake. Therefore, an average 180-pound male vegan should consume 74 grams of protein each day.
There are many days that I supplement my protein with a plant-based protein powder. I add it to my smoothies and sometimes I stir it into my cold oatmeal. Yes, I eat cold oatmeal sometimes, especially when I have it loaded with fruit, cinnamon, and date paste or organic maple syrup.
10 Common Ways Vegans Consume Protein
Tons of grains have protein, including oats, wheat, rye, barley, corn, and rice, to name a few! Think about all the grains you eat per day. One cup of oatmeal (my favorite!) has 6 grams of protein, two slices of whole wheat bread has 7 grams of protein, and one cup of brown rice has 5 grams of protein.
There are so many ways to use grains that you may not have thought of; add them to soups; eat the cereals cold; top the bread with your favorite fruit and more!
This includes beans, peas, and lentils. 1 cup of kidney beans has 13 grams of protein alone, and a cup of lentils provides 18 grams!
I use lentils quite often; it’s one of my favorite protein sources to use when I make soup and fillings.
Try using lentils instead of other beans to avoid gas and bloating.
Nuts, including peanuts, almonds, cashews, and even peanut butter, are a great source of protein. Two tablespoons of almonds contain 4 grams of protein, and two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 8 grams. Yup – I eat a lot of nuts and peanut butter.
Seeds, such as sunflower and sesame seeds, make a great snack and are very healthy for you. Seeds are commonly consumed on breads and with other grains. One tablespoon of pumpkin seeds contains 2 grams of protein, and a tablespoon of flax seeds contains 1.5 grams. Every time I make a smoothie I add two heaping tablespoons of organic, whole flaxseeds. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds contains a little over 7 grams of protein. They’re a nice way to thicken up your smoothie, especially when using only water. They also make very good fillings after they are soaked in water – just throw them in a blender!
Vegetables, common in a vegan’s diet, are a great way to get protein. One cup of broccoli contains 4 grams of protein, one cup of portabella mushrooms contains 5 grams, and one cup of spinach provides 6 grams. I like to roast vegetables and store them in the freezer so I have them on-hand.
Here’s a trick I use to increase my consumption of vegetables: I chop them very small and add them to my soups, smoothies, and use them in fillings for wraps.
Vegetables are known to be a rich source of protein, but few realize that some fruits also contain a considerable amount of protein. One cup of dates contains 3.6 grams of protein, a medium avocado contains 4 grams, and one cup of guava contains 4.2 grams.
Some fruits contain a lot of sugar, so be aware of how much you are consuming every day.
1 cup of tofu provides an impressive 20 grams of protein. Tofu is not one of my favorite foods, but I hear it makes a good scrambled egg substitute, which I’ll have to try. Most people are likely to consume only about a half a cup at a time, but still, that’s an easy 10 grams of protein!
Tofu is a soy product – one of the largest GMO crops… I recommend buying only organic.
8. Soy Milk
Providing 7 grams of protein per cup, soymilk is a great, delicious source for your protein. Again, I recommend only buying organic, but this is a personal choice.
Because soy is a large GMO crop, I never use it. Instead I use a lot of organic coconut and almond milk.
9. Veggie Burgers and Other Meat Substitutes
These are becoming increasingly popular, especially “veggie” burgers made for vegans. Did you know that one veggie patty provides you a whopping 10 grams of protein? I hesitated for a long time to give these a try because I cook just about all my meals myself. These surprised me and although it may just be the brand I purchased, I liked them a lot. Most of the veggie burgers contain soy, so be sure to check the label. You can even make these yourself by using lentils.
Don’t forget about using meat substitutes for wraps!
Quinoa is considered the king of whole grains. 1 cup of cooked quinoa will get you 18 grams of protein!
Although quinoa is high in protein, it is expensive so be sure to check the price before you invest.
The Key Is A Varied Diet
As you can see from the list above, it’s quite easy for a vegan to consume the proper amount of daily protein.
Let’s say for breakfast you have a cup of oatmeal and a guava, for lunch you have a veggie burger with soymilk, for a snack, you have some peanuts, and for dinner, you have lentil salad with spinach, half a cup of cooked tofu, and kidney beans. That’s 82 grams of protein!
Still don’t believe it’s possible to consume enough protein? Do a Google search on “vegan bodybuilder” and review the results. I think you’ll be surprised.
P.S. Do you have any concerns about the vegan diet and lifestyle? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!
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