Protein is an essential macronutrient that our bodies need to function properly. It makes up the building blocks for our muscles, skin, hair and more. Protein is found in both animal products and plant foods. Many people believe that it’s challenging to get adequate protein from plant sources alone, but that’s simply a myth. With a little planning, those following a vegan diet can easily meet their protein needs. Keep reading to learn about six fantastic vegan protein sources and how to incorporate them into your diet. 

Beans and Legumes Pack a Protein Punch

Beans and legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and more, are nutritional rockstars in the plant kingdom. Though they vary slightly, a 1 cup serving of beans contains around 15 grams of protein on average. Beans are packed with fiber to support digestive and heart health. They are also loaded with key minerals like iron, magnesium, folate, and potassium. Beans are very versatile too – add them to soups, stews, chilis, salads, veggie burgers and more. You can also make bean dips or spreads like hummus. The options are endless when it comes to cooking with beans.

Nutritious Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts and nut butters are a great way to add plant-based protein to your snacks and meals. An ounce of nuts provides 6-8 grams of protein typically. Nut butters like peanut butter and cashew butter are delicious spread on whole grain toast, stirred into oatmeal, or blended into smoothies. You can also use nut butters to create energy bites and no-bake desserts. Just watch your portions, as nuts and nut butters are high in calories. Stick to a 1⁄4 cup or less per serving.

Add Tofu to Boost Meals

Tofu is made from soybeans and contains about 10 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving. It comes in various textures – soft, firm, and extra firm. Soft tofu works well in smoothies and desserts. Use firm and extra firm tofu in stir-fries, curries, and soups or to bulk up pasta sauce. Marinate and bake tofu until lightly crisped for a satisfying plant-based protein snack or sandwich filling. One of the benefits of tofu is that it easily absorbs flavors from sauces and marinades. This makes it the perfect blank canvas for getting creative in the kitchen.

Power Up with Protein-Rich Whole Grains

From quinoa to buckwheat, whole grains provide ample plant-based protein as well as important nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and fiber. A cooked 1⁄2 cup serving of quinoa contains approximately 4 grams of protein. Try using quinoa in homemade vegetarian burger patties or fritters. You can also make a protein punch bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, nuts, seeds and your favorite veggies. Buckwheat is another whole grain that provides protein – about 6 grams per 1⁄2 cup cooked. Use buckwheat groats as a base for bowls or in porridge.

Seed Your Diet with Chia and Hemp

Chia seeds and hemp seeds are nutritional powerhouses. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 4 grams of complete protein. They are also loaded with fiber and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Combine chia seeds with plant-based milk, yogurt or nut butter to create puddings, energizing parfaits or smoothies. Chia gel can even be used as a vegan egg substitute in baking. Hemp seeds offer 10 grams of complete protein per 3 tablespoons. That’s more protein than you get in a single egg! Add hemp seeds to salads, cereals, baked goods and smoothie bowls for a boost of protein and nutrients. Some supplement companies make protein powders that are also a mass gainer for vegans using hemp, chia and pea proteins.

As you can see, plants provide plenty of awesome protein sources. With a little creativity, it’s easy to meet your daily protein needs on a vegan diet. Focus on incorporating a variety of protein-rich plant foods like beans, nuts, tofu, whole grains, and seeds. This will give your body the protein it needs to thrive, along with lots of beneficial fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fueling your body the plant-powered way has never been simpler or more delicious

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