Protein: what is it, why is it important, and where to find it in plant-based sources
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about vegans, vegetarians, and plant-based lifestyles is that those who don't eat meat don't get enough protein. In fact, when you google search "protein", the images that pop up are mostly just meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. The truth is that there are many plant-based sources that can provide you with protein while also offering a wide array of other health benefits.
Proteins are molecules in the body that play important roles in keeping us strong and healthy. Protein helps our muscles, bones, metabolism function, and can impact our overall sense of wellbeing. Protein helps us feel full, can improve our hair and skin health, and is an important part of a well-rounded diet.
I have created the list below of sources of plant-based protein that you can refer back to when looking for inspiration for grocery shopping, meal prep, creating your own recipes, or just as a tool if you are looking to incorporate more high-protein foods into your diet.
Sources of plant-based protein:
◦ Almonds- 28 grams of protein/1 cup
Great for snacking or turning into almond butter/almond milk
◦ Almond butter- 6.8 grams/ 2 tbsp
Great as a snack with apples, on some toast, or in a smoothie
◦ Black beans- 14 grams of protein/1 cup (cooked)
A nice topping for salads or in your favorite burrito/burrito bowl
◦ Broccoli- 2.5 grams of protein/ 1 cup
A nice addition to any meal! Check out the link below for a broccoli recipe idea
◦ Chia seeds- 4.7 grams of protein/ 2 tbsp
Great for topping off smoothie bowls, blending into smoothies, in energy balls, or used with oats
◦ Chickpeas- 15 grams of protein/1 cup (cooked)
Great for making hummus, roasted in the oven, or in a curry dish
◦ Edamame- 17 grams of protein/ 1 cup (cooked)
I love using edamame in stir fry dishes and spring rolls, and it can also be a great snack on its own!
◦ Green peas- 9 grams of protein/ 1 cup (cooked)
Also what I usually include in stir fry and spring rolls, and a great side dish
◦ Lentils- 18 grams of protein/ 1 cup (cooked)
Different types of lentils work well for different meals! Lentils are commonly used in Indian dishes, soups, and more!
◦ Nutritional yeast- 14 grams of protein/ 2 tbsp
Adds a great cheesy flavor to any dish!
◦ Oats- 12 grams of protein/1 cup (dry oats)
Can be prepared cold or warm with a variety of toppings
◦ Peanuts- 19 grams/ 1/2 cup
Great for snacking or turning into peanut butter
◦ Peanut butter- 8 grams/ 2 tbsp
A nice ingredient to include in baked goods to add protein and a chewy texture
◦ Tempeh- 31 grams of protein/ 1 cup
An easy-to-prepare source of protein that is also gut-healthy
◦ Tofu- 20 grams of protein/1 cup
Can be used in a variety of ways and a great ingredient to try out with different spices and flavors
◦ Quinoa- 8 grams of protein/ 1 cup (cooked)
A complete source of protein that makes a great base for any dish and can be added to soups, salads, and more!
◦ Wild rice- 7 grams of protein/ 1 cup (cooked)
ˆAlso great for soups and usually pairs well with mushrooms
For an easy-to-make plant based lunch or dinner idea, check out my high protein creamy broccoli pasta recipe!
Note: As always, I am not a doctor and recommend checking with your doctor if you are looking to make dietary changes