How To Determine If You’re Eating Enough Protein As A Vegan
Those who aren’t sure they’re meeting their protein goals can easily figure that out. Download a food tracking app, such as Cronometer or MyFitnessPal, and record your regular diet for several days. Keep an eye on your protein intake and see if you’re hitting your daily number.
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If you aren’t, try incorporating more of the suggested foods below into your meals. Remember, if you have another reason to need extra protein, such as being pregnant or following a rigorous training schedule at the gym, then it’s a good idea to consult a registered dietitian and pay closer attention to tracking your protein intake.
More Protein Rich Foods For Vegans
Data for the curated food lists comes from the USDA Food Data Central Repository.
You can check our data against the USDA by clicking the link at the bottom of each food listing.
Note: When checking data please be sure the serving sizes are the same. In the rare case you find any difference, please contact us and we will fix it right away.
Nearly Complete Protein Sources For Vegetarians And Vegans
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Despite what some people may think, there are many ways to get enough protein on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
However, not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins, meaning protein sources that contain adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. While your body can make some of them, nine have to be obtained through your diet. These are referred to as essential amino acids and include (
Animal products like beef, fish, dairy, and eggs contain enough of every one of these essential amino acids. Thus, theyre considered complete proteins .
However, many plant sources of protein are too low in or missing one or more of these essential amino acids. Theyre considered incomplete protein sources.
Still, given that plant foods contain varying amounts of amino acids, you can manage to get enough of each essential amino acid throughout the day by eating a varied diet and combining complementary plant proteins .
For example, grains like rice are too low in lysine to be considered a complete source of protein. Yet, by also eating lentils or beans, which are higher in lysine, throughout the day, you can be sure to obtain all nine essential amino acids .
Here are 13 nearly complete protein sources for vegetarians and vegans.
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Mediterranean Vs Vegan Diet: Which Is Better
The Mediterranean diet and vegan diet are two popular eating plans. Both have been well-studied for their many potential health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating patterns of people in Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. Its known for promoting a variety of foods that are both flavorful and nutritious.
Meanwhile, the vegan diet encourages a wide range of plant-based foods and is associated with both health and environmental benefits.
While there are some clear similarities between these two diet plans, you may also wonder how they compare.
This article takes a closer look at the Mediterranean and vegan diets to help you determine which is right for you, if either.
Grains Nuts And Seeds
Most people have no idea how much protein theyre actually supposed to get in a day , but non-vegans always seem to wonder how vegans get enough protein. *Eye roll*
Heres the real question: if dead animals are your main protein source, where do you get your riboflavin, niacin, lutein, zinc, phosphorous, thiamine, selenium, magnesium, folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K huh?
100 Per Cent Whole Wheat Pasta 8 grams of protein per cooked cup: Great source of B vitamins and iron
Almonds 21 grams of protein per 100 grams: Great source of vitamin E, manganese, biotin, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, riboflavin, and phosphorus
Amaranth 7 grams of protein per cooked cup: Great source of iron, B vitamins, and magnesium
Buckwheat 24 grams of protein per cup: Great source of antioxidants, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, zinc, iron, folate, and vitamin B6
Chia Seeds 5 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons: Great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, boron, niacin, and vitamins B, D, and E, and contains 8.7 times the omega-3 fatty acids found in wild Atlantic salmon
Ezekiel Bread 8 grams of protein per two slices: Great source of fibre, folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E
Hemp Seeds 15.5 grams of protein per half cup: Great source of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
Peanut Butter 7 grams of protein per two tablespoons: Great source of magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6 and E
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Nuts Seeds And Butters
Like beans, the nuts and seeds category is huge. When looking for the seeds with the most protein, lean toward a 30-gram serving of hemp seeds , chia seeds , and flax seeds . High-protein nuts include peanuts , almonds , and brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios per 1-ounce serving. Nut and seed butters have similar protein profiles.
The Best Vegan Foods High In Protein
I collected the nutritional information for over 120 vegan whole foods from the USDAs food database, which includes protein content.
The standard way to look at nutrients in food is per 100 grams, but Ive also included a column for the amount of protein per 100 calories if youre trying to lose weight and still hit certain macros.
|Food||Protein per 100 calories|
|Vital wheat gluten|
One food that was not included here was nutritional yeast, since I wasnt sure if it counts as a typical food. However, fortified nutritional yeast has a lot of protein and vitamin B12, and can be added on top of many meals for a cheesy flavor.
The top results are mostly legumes and seeds: Multiple types of beans, along with lentils and peanuts. Soybeans are at the top of legumes.
Surprisingly, whole grains like oats also have a good amount of protein, just a lot of calories overall as well.
If youre trying to hit certain macros on a diet plan, the list above may not be enough information for you. The following post might be more useful: The 30 Top High Protein Low Fat Vegan Foods.
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Is It Actually Healthy To Be Vegan
This diet excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. It is a plant-based diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. There are many health benefits to following a vegan diet.
Some of the health benefits of being vegan include weight loss, lower blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Vegans also have a lower risk of developing Alzheimers disease and age-related macular degeneration.
There are many reasons why people should consider becoming vegan. The most obvious reason is for the health benefits, but there are also ethical and environmental reasons to consider going vegan.
Many studies support the health benefits of the vegan diet. A recent study published in the journal Nutrients found that vegan diets are more effective than other diets at reducing body weight, waist circumference, and total cholesterol levels.
Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that vegan diets are associated with a significantly lower risk of heart disease. A study published in Cancer Research found that a vegan diet can reduce the risk of some types of cancer, including breast cancer.
The bottom line is that there are many health benefits to following a vegan diet. It is a healthy way to eat that can help you lose weight, improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of disease.
Example: How To Calculate Vegan Protein Needs
Lets take a typical No Meat Athlete reader and see what this means for her, lets a say a 140-pound runner. Well split the daily protein range for endurance athletes in the middle and aim for .59 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight:
140 pounds * .59 grams/pound = 83 grams of protein per day
Keep in mind thats for a 140-pound endurance athlete, so youll need to plug in your own weight and, if you do a strength sport, use a different protein figure.
But really, only 83 grams?
All of this protein fuss the incessant inquisition about where we get protein is about 83 grams per day, even after adjusting for being an athlete?
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High Protein Fruits And Vegetables
All fruits and veggies contain small amounts of protein, but some more than others.
Fruits and vegetables are most often enjoyed raw, cooked, or blended into smoothies and sauces. You can enjoy them at any meal or snack.
Similar serving sizes of high protein fruits and veggies pack the following amounts of protein (
- Broccoli : 2.5 grams
- Sweet potato : 2 grams
- Artichoke : 3 grams
- Spinach : 2 grams
- Banana : 1.5 grams
- Blackberries : 2 grams
- Guava : 4.5 grams
Incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet is a great way to meet your protein needs. Guava is particularly rich in protein.
Benefits And Disadvantages Of Becoming Vegan
- Weight Loss is something studies have shown to be better as a vegan. For example, in 2016, Harvard performed astudy over 2.5 months with almost 1200 people. The results showed significant benefits for vegans vs. non-vegan diets. In general, this type of diet is higher in fiber which is a big positive for weight loss. This is a great reason why you may want to go vegan to lose weight.
- Better heart health since plants has lower saturated fats. Saturated fats are mostly found in meat and animal products. Eating foods with too many saturated fats increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood. The results can raise your risk for heart disease.
- Lower Cancer risk since eating a lot of meat that has been processed can increase your risk for cancers such as esophageal and colon. Plant-based foods contain phytochemicals. These are important nutrients that help your immune system fight off cancer.
- Increase energy metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity with an after-meal burn. This was according to an actual study done for 4 months. The vegan group lost almost 14 pounds and increased metabolism by almost 19%.
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The Digestibility Of Plant Based Proteins
There are 2 aspects of protein quality.
First are the nineessential amino acid profile of a protein source.
Its not a big deal as long as youre eating a variety of foods. Even if one protein source is lacking certain essential amino acids, some other food you eat throughout the day will make up for it .
For example, beans are generally low in methionine, but if you eat some seeds or oats , you get enough of all essential amino acids.
The second aspect is that plant based protein doesnt absorb as well as animal protein.
This is true, many studies have shown this. Its mainly due to antinutrients that inhibit absorption of nutrients.
Its not a huge amount, but it is significant.
So vegans might need a little more protein, but its not something to worry about too much.
For example, a well-known vegan bodybuilder, Nimai Delgado, says he eats about 150-160 grams of protein while weighing 180 lbs .
Plant protein is a bit lower quality than protein from animal sources, but unless youre an elite athlete , its not going to make a significant difference in planning your diet.
How Much Protein Do Vegans Need
Not as much as people would have you believe. Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended. I know, its fun to blame government agencies and cry conspiracy, but if you actually look at the recommendations, theyre not that high at all.
For example, the U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for the general population.
Protein for vegan athletes is somewhat more complicated, as greater tissue-repair need require more protein and general, and athletes tend to pay more attention to amino acid balance.
Some successful endurance athletes get as little as 5% of their calories from protein and since a gram of protein contains about four calories, thats less than 35 grams of protein a day for a 2500-calorie-per-day diet!
At the other extreme are vegan bodybuilders and those new to the plant-based diet who are accustomed to higher amounts of protein and worried about what will happen when they stop eating meat. They aim for higher amounts of protein, often 25 to 30 percent of calories. Its hard to get this amount from whole plant-foods, so they often turn to vegan protein supplements to get the extra boost theyre looking for.
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What Foods Are Good For Protein
Most people are aware of the fact that protein is vital for a healthy diet. We have all heard that humans and other animals need protein in our diets because we cant live without it. However, few of us realize that protein is essential to the human body. Proteins are necessary for muscle repair and growth. Proteins are also involved in cell repair and growth. Your body produces most of the proteins that it needs on its own, but if you dont consume enough protein, you can experience protein deficiency. Protein deficiency can have a detrimental effect on your health, so its important to ensure that you eat enough protein in your diet. One of the best sources of protein in the diet is meat. Other excellent sources of protein are eggs, fish, milk, and nuts.
What Are The Foods That Contain Protein
Protein is a macronutrient. It is the most important macronutrient for a healthy diet. It is found in animal foods, including meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Plant foods such as nuts, beans, seeds, and grains contain less protein. Fats and carbohydrates are the two other macronutrients, and are found in foods such as oil, milk, and bread. Protein is needed by the body to grow and repair cells, which is especially important for women and children. It is also needed for the production of red and white blood cells. According to the USDAs food composition database, the average adult needs between 45 and 65 grams of protein per day, depending on their weight. A healthy adult should have about 50 grams of protein per meal. Although protein is required in a variety of forms, it is usually found in two forms: protein and amino acids. This is because animals have protein but not all amino acids, which are required for protein synthesis. Sources of protein include protein-rich foods, including dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and nuts. Protein can be found in the form of protein and amino acids. Protein is needed by the body to grow and repair cells, which is especially important for women and children. It is also needed for the production of red and white blood cells. The USDAs food composition database indicates that the average adult should have between 45 and 65 grams of protein per day, depending on their
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Protein In The Vegan Diet
by Reed Mangels, PhD, RDFrom Simply Vegan 5th Edition
Summary:It is easy for a vegan diet to meet recommendations for protein, aslong as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is notnecessary it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout theday.
SomeAmericans are obsessed with protein. Vegans are bombarded withquestions about where they get their protein. Athletes used to eatthick steaks before competition because they thought it would improvetheir performance. Protein supplements are sold at health foodstores. This concern about protein is misplaced. Although protein iscertainly an essential nutrient which plays many key roles in the wayour bodies function, we do not need huge quantities of it. Only aboutone calorie out of every 10 we take in needs to come from protein.Vegan athletes, especially in the early stages of training, may havehigher protein needs than vegans who exercise moderately or who arenot active. Vegan athletes protein needs can range from 0.36 to0.86 grams of protein per pound 2. Protein supplements are notneeded to achieve even the highest level of protein intake.
So, in theUnited States it appears that vegan diets are commonly lower inprotein than standard American diets. Remember, though, with protein,more is not necessarily better. There do not appear tobe health advantages to consuming a high protein diet. Diets that arehigh in protein may even increase the risk of osteoporosis 4 andkidney disease 5.
Amazing Vegan Protein Sources
Hands down, the number one question a vegan gets asked is, But where do you get your protein?! While vegan protein sources do indeed existand in many different forms and flavorsits not a totally out-of-left-field question, given that the main sources of protein most people are familiar with are animal products. The most popular types of food high in proteinbeef, chicken, fish, turkey, pork, and shellfish are all off limits on a vegan diet, of course. And so are some of the best high-protein vegetarian foods, like eggs, milk, yogurt, and whey protein powder.
Fortunately, though, there are plenty of tasty high-protein vegan foods you can enjoyyou just might need to be a little more intentional about it. Most vegans can do fine with proper meal planning, Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., R.D.N., assistant professor in the UAB department of nutrition sciences, previously told SELF. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agrees that, generally, most people following vegan and vegetarian diets meet or exceed their protein needs, as long as they are consuming enough calories in general.
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