When I share with someone that I eat mostly a plant based diet, one of the first things I am always asked is “are you scared you are not getting enough protein?” and my answer without any hesitation is always NO! 😀
There are so many ways to get protein on a plant based or vegan diet. Yet, we are somehow have been programmed to believe protein only comes from animal sources. In fact, this is so far off from the truth which why I wanted to share with you some of my favorite protein sources.
- Organic Tofu – Serving Size: 4 ounces or 1/2 cup, Protein: 10 grams (I prefer extra firm tofu for most dishes)
- Organic Tempeh – Serving Size: 3 ounces, Protein: 15 grams (also a great substitute for those who can’t digest beans or soy products well)
- Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk – Serving Size: 8 oz or 1 cup, Protein: 7 grams (also a great source for calcium)
- Organic Edamame – Serving Size: 100 grams or 2/3 cup, Protein: 12 grams
There are so many great soy products out on the market. Some of my favorites are edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, and soy milk.
I always prefer to eat and purchase organic soy products whenever possible since non organic soy is genetically modified in the United States. This is my personal preference since I do try to eat as clean as possible and I avoid eating foods that do not contain GMOs.
There is some controversy when it comes to eating soy but for the most part, soy products are considered safe to eat in moderate amounts. I would suggest you do your own research if you have any concerns about this food group.
Beans & Legumes
- Chickpeas – serving size: 130 grams or 1/2 cup, protein: 6 grams
- Black Beans – serving size: 130 grams or 1/2 cup, protein: 6 grams
- Pinto Beans – serving size: 1.4 cup dry, protein: 9 grams
Another great resource for protein on plant based diet are beans and legumes. I honestly do not have a favorite bean or legume so I wanted show you what I currently had in my pantry.
SHOPPING TIP: I always recommend you purchase dry beans instead of canned beans since the the beans are not soaking in oil and salt water, however, this can be very time consuming. If you a hurry or prefer the convenience of canned beans, make sure you are purchasing canned beans that contains no salt and oil. If this option is not available to you, your next best option is to go for low sodium (no oil.) Always remember to rinse your beans prior to cooking to remove any access salt, oil, and dirt.
- Green Lentils – serving size: 1/4 cup dry , protein: 13 grams
- Red Lentils – serving size: 1/4 cup dry , protein: 13 grams
You cannot go wrong with throwing lentils into any dish you make. I usually add them in my homemade “meat” balls, soups, and curry dishes.
- Serving size: 1/2 cup , protein: 5 grams
Oats are a breakfast staple for most plant based eaters. Not only do they contain protein, they are also a good source of fiber and iron.
I love making oatmeal in mornings since they are so quick and easy. I will usually throw a 1/2 cup of oats with 3/4 cup of water into a microwave safe dish and microwave it for 2 minutes. Then I top it off with some cinnamon about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, as well as, sliced bananas, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice) and homemade jelly. As an extra treat, I will sometimes throw in cocoa nibs on top.
Oatmeal not your cup of tea? Lucky for you, oats are very versitale food. You can also prep your breakfast a head of time and make overnight oats.
Not into eating oats for breakfast? No problem! I also use oats when making veggie burgers or I’ll throw them into dessert when I make my protein balls.
- Serving Size: 1 cup, Protein: 8 grams
Quinoa pronounced as “kwuh-NO-uh” or “KWIN-wah” is not only a great source of protein but also gluten free. It is also one of the only food groups that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also a high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin E.
- Serving size: 3 tablespoons, protein: 10 grams
Personally, I think hemp seeds are so underrated. Not only are they a good source of protein, they also contain fiber and Omega 3 and 6 which is essential when going plant based.
I love throwing hemp seeds on salads and avocado toast. Be sure you check out my instagram for more ideas.
- Serving Size: 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons, Protein: 4 grams
I love throwing chia seeds into my smoothies or even adding them in my homemade three berry jelly. They are such a great source of fiber too.
Once you add chia seeds to water or any other liquid substance and leave it sitting there for a few minutes. The chia seeds will form into a jell like consistency make it a perfect treat for chia pudding.
- Almonds – Serving Size: 1 ounce or 23 almonds, Protein: 6 grams
- Cashews – Serving Size: 1 ounce or 18 cashews, Protein: 5 grams
- Brazilian Nuts – Serving Size: about 2-3 Brazilian nuts, Protein: 4 grams
- Pecans – Serving Size: 1 ounce or 20 halves, Protein: 3 grams
Nuts are another staple in my household. Not only do they make a perfect snack, I also use cashews (in particular) to make dairy free cream like sauces.
There are also so many health benefits when it comes to eating nuts. Almonds are a great source of calcium, as well as, help aid in weight loss.
Cashews are known to help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Did you know? Eating between 2 to 3 Brazilian Nuts a day can provide you with a full source of Selenium.
Lastly, pecans are overall great for you skin, hair, and health.
- Serving Size: 1 cup, Protein: 2 grams
I have a head of cauliflower every week but not in one sitting. I will usually cut cauliflower into small pieces and bake it for about 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees. No salt and no oil.
Roasted cauliflower so great plain but I will also add it on salads or even have as a side dish. I will sometimes take the roasted cauliflower and add it to buffalo or bbq sauces or i’ll season it with taco seasoning and make cauliflower tacos during the week. The possibilities with cauliflower are endless.
Spinach and Leafy Greens
- Serving Size: 1 Cup, Protein: 0.9 grams
Alright hear me out before you scroll past this. Yes, spinach does not contain that much protein per serving compare to the other foods I have listed on this page but I wanted to still list this for various reasons.
While you will not get your complete source of protein from just eating spinach or another leafy green, it still does not mean it is not there.
Again, there is a common misconception out there that you will become protein deficient (which isn’t a real thing BTW) if you pursue a plant based diet which is completely WRONG. Most plant based foods (not all) contain a small amount of protein which most of us do not realize.
Most leafy greens, contain at least 1 gram of protein or less per serving size. While they may not be high in protein, leafy greens have many health benefits that you do not want to skip out on eating this food group. When in doubt always Choose Greens 😉 😉
- Serving size: 1 medium mushroom (about 18 grams,) Protein: 0.6 grams
I use to not be a big fan of mushrooms prior to going plant based. I liked the taste and flavor they brought into dishes but I hated the texture of them.
When I tried to go plant based at first, I saw how many dishes included mushrooms and thought I wouldn’t last long eating this these type of meals. I also didn’t like tomatoes which was another common ingredient I saw in many dishes too. However, I learned how to make it work and I have been able to incorporate both ingredients in my dishes.
Mushrooms are not only a great source for protein but have a meat like texture to them this is why you will see them as the main protein source in many dishes. Check out my recipe for Arroz Con Gandules that use mushrooms.
- Sweet Potatoes – Serving Size: 1 cup , Protein: 2.1 grams
- Colorful Potatoes – Serving size: 1 cup , Protein: 2-6 grams (depending on which type you eat)
- Russet Potatoes – Serving Size: 1 cup , Protein: 4.6 grams
Have you ever met a vegan or plant based eater who didn’t like potatoes? I say this more as a joke since I am sure this is not the first time you have heard a plant based eater express their love for potatoes. Honestly, potatoes can do any harm.
There are so many ways to prep potatoes whether you enjoy them mashed, baked whole, or even cut up into french fries. I personally love adding potatoes into almost any dish I eat. I enjoy having them as a side with a salad or eating them as a mid afternoon snack. I will sometimes make french fries and eat them with my homemade guacamole or just plain ketchup. The possibilities are endless when it comes to eating them.
I am sure after reading this post you are no longer surprise to hear that there are even more plant based protein sources out there that I have not listed. I would love to hear what are some of your favorites that I didn’t include.
Please leave your comment below!