“How will I get enough protein?” is possibly the number one most cited concern among those considering the switch to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. There are a number of amazingly healthy, delicious high-protein options for those who don’t eat animal products. These include nuts, green vegetables, beans, lentils and grains. For spring and summer, there are a number of great protein sources that can be included in both warm and cool seasonal dishes alike.
Spring and Summer Vegan Protein Sources
With 9 grams of protein and less than 4 grams of fat per cup, this gluten-free grain is easy to make and healthy. Replace pastas and rice bases with quinoa in recipes, or mix it with lettuces, chopped vegetables, and a sweet fruit to create a light summer salad.
2 Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are health staples of Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean and other cuisines from around the world. Hummus is a middle-eastern dip-like mixture of chick peas, garlic and spices that boasts up to 14g of protein per serving. It can be made at home or bought in nearly any grocery store and paired with cucumbers, carrots, celery, crackers, and served as a veggie tray at a picnic or barbeque.
Mexican refried bean and chili mixtures are a staple of southwestern cooking that contain up to 15g of protein per cup. These can be placed on top of salads, rice, veggies, and toppings like guacamole or can be paired with baked potatoes and salad in place of a steak or burger dinner.
Lentils are protein-packed pulses that taste great in soups and traditional Indian dishes. One of their
advantageous qualities is that they can be simmered with a handful of seasonal vegetables, spices, and some stock to yield a hearty no-fat stew. Lentils can also be added to salads made with harder non-cooked vegetables to provide warm, soft texture while adding enough protein to make the dish meal-worthy.
3 Green Veggies
One great thing about vegetable sources of protein is their fiber content; meat sources of protein tend to be low in fiber and can therefore increase the chance that problems like constipation or slowed digestion will occur after consuming them. Cooked spinach contains around to 7g of protein per cup as well as a whopping 14 grams of fiber. Cooked broccoli and kale each contain around 3g of protein and 10g of fiber per similarly-sized serving. Throwing these veggies into stir fries and smoothies, or eating them raw with bean dips or by themselves are all great ways to up protein and fiber intake without sacrificing taste.
4 Pea and Rice Protein Powders
Vegetable and fruit smoothies are growing in popularity due to their high micronutrient and low calorie contents, but one of the drawbacks of these plant-based drinks is that they can be low in protein compared to a square meal, unless large amounts of them are consumed. Adding a small amount of protein or rice powder to a smoothie is a great hypoallergenic way to add stomach-filling substance and extra vitamins and minerals to a smoothie without weighing it down.
How Much Protein Do You Need in a Day?
According to the Institute of Medicine, the average human body requires only 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day to function optimally. This amounts to 54 grams a day for the average 150-pound individual, and slightly more if that person is an avid athlete or on a low carbohydrate diet. Aim for around 20 grams of protein per meal and 5g per snack to meet this number by the end of the day.