Current marketing trends place far too much emphasis on protein. The fact is that a vast majority of Americans get plenty of this macronutrient regardless of which diet they follow. However, there are situations that may require certain individuals to pay a bit more attention to their protein intake.
Athletes need more protein than those who live sedentary lifestyles—about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight as opposed to the average 0.8 grams per kilogram. Other health conditions or goals may also up a person’s daily protein quota for a certain period of time.
Vegan meals can pack on protein just as well as animal-based meals, and these meals can be more varied than scooping plant-based protein powder into everything (though that works, too). Here are all your plant-based protein questions answered plus 10 high-protein vegan recipes to hit your macros every day.
Do Vegans Get Enough Protein?
Most vegans don’t have to worry about getting enough protein. All whole foods naturally contain protein, so if you eat a mostly whole food, plant-based diet and consume enough calories for your needs, then there’s no need to crunch any numbers—you’ll get enough protein without thinking about it.
For those who do enjoy the quantitative aspect of nutrition, protein requirements are fairly easy to calculate. The USDA’s Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. To calculate your protein needs, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, and the result is the number of grams of protein you need each day.
For example, a 130-pound woman should aim for 46.8 grams of protein per day, and a 170-pound man should aim for 61.2 grams of protein per day. Note: this formula is designated for the “average” individual—someone who may exercise on occasion but not at high intensities nor a majority of the week.
Those who are more active—who exercise at a moderate to high intensity at least four days a week—should aim for 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is a general guideline—to truly optimize performance, a plant-based dietitian can help fine-tune your exact protein needs based on your activity level.
Given these average daily protein requirements—between 47 grams and 61 grams—it’s not difficult for vegans to naturally consume enough protein. Let’s say you enjoy a bowl of oatmeal every morning with a dollop of nut butter. The soy or pea milk you use to cook the oats contains eight grams of protein.
The half cup of oats contains five grams of protein. And the tablespoon of peanut butter will provide an additional four grams of protein. In total, that’s 17 grams of protein just for a morning meal. Add in lunch, dinner, and snacks, and you’re well into the protein comfort zone.
Where To Get Vegan Protein
This bears repeating: all whole foods contain some amount of protein. Yes, there are drastic differences in protein content between foods, but technically speaking, there is protein in every food.
In fact, if one were to only eat 2,000 calories worth of broccoli every day, they’d still get 146 grams of protein. Vegetables have protein, too, and it’s not necessary to rely on animals for their protein content.
Common sources of vegan protein include nuts and seeds, grains, beans and legumes, seitan, plant-based protein powder, soy or pea milk, and plant-based meats. There’s a wide variety to choose from, which makes the vegan diet anything but boring and bland.
Purium Products Containing Pea Protein:
- Chai Protein
- Coffee Protein
- Dark Berry Protein
- Epi-Genius Family
- Family MVP
- Matcha Protein
- MVP Sport Chocolate
- MVP Sport Vanilla
High-Protein Vegan Food
First, let’s define what high protein means. There is no technical or legal definition for high protein—which is why you’ll see it slapped onto virtually any food product—but for our sake, we’re setting the bar at eight grams per single serving.
Why? The dairy industry touts cow’s milk as a high-protein food, and a cup of cow’s milk (as well as pea or soy milk) contains eight grams of protein. So, anyone arguing that eight grams isn’t high protein can take that up with the dairy marketing giants.
Plant-based meats have set a new bar for high-protein plant foods. Conventional vegan burger patties and other beef alternatives provide up to 20 grams of protein, and plant-based butchers are outdoing the store-bought options with protein counts in the high 20s.
For example, The Very Good Butcher’s Ribz boasts a whopping 27 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. With just 150 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, this nutritional profile is unmatched compared to cow or pig-based ribs which come in at over 230 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 18 grams of protein.
Vegan protein powder can also offer a significant protein boost. Most brands range from 18 grams to 30 grams of protein per serving. In a pinch, adding a scoop to a smoothie or bowl of oats can virtually guarantee you hit your protein quota.
Whole plant-based sources of protein include tofu, quinoa, lentils, soy and pea milk, and peanut butter. Yes, while other nut butters do contain moderate amounts of protein, old-school peanut butter reigns supreme with this macronutrient.
How To Choose The Best Vegan Protein Powder
- Ingredient quality: High quality sources of plant-based protein. Prioritize products that contain few or no artificial flavors, colors, and other additives.
- Low in added sugar: Look for protein powders that contain 6 grams (g) or less of added sugar per serving.
- Expert-recommended: Must be recommended and reviewed by registered dietitians.
- Price: Options that suit a variety of budgets.