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How Vegans Get Their Protein: Plant-Based Protein Sources and 32 Recipes to Try Today!

As a vegan, you’ve undoubtedly heard the question:

“Where do you get your protein?” 

A few million times. 

In all honesty, people are genuinely confused.

The vast majority of the population gets their protein from animal ingredients... 

which makes plant-based protein sources a bit of a mystery. 

The good news is that vegan sources of protein are “plant”-iful! 

Are you interested in learning how to easily get enough protein from plant-based foods? 

Then read on! Here’s what we’ll be covering: 

  • The Importance of Protein: How Protein Works and How Much We Need 
  • All About the Plants: Discovering Popular Sources of Plant-Based Protein 
  • Plant-Based Recipes: 27 High-Protein Vegan Meals You Need to Try Now!

Ready? Let’s roll!

The Importance of Protein: How Protein Works and How Much We Need

There are three macronutrients that we should consume every day…

And protein is one of them!

We need it daily for a healthy diet.

Protein is actually made up of amino acids which form long chains. 

There are over a dozen different types of amino acids, 

but don’t underestimate them.

Different combinations make up thousands of different proteins our body needs. 

Crazy!

Our body may create some amino acids— 

But we need to get our essential amino acids, too.

These come from food sources. 

Here are a few of the ways protein helps our bodies function: 

Growth and Repair: 

Protein is essential in helping our body grow, repair, and maintain our muscles and tissues. 

This is why we often associate eating more protein with muscle growth. 

Creating Biochemical Reactions: 

Some proteins in our body are known as enzymes. 

These enzymes react to other molecules, vitamins, and minerals in our body to help with things such as: 

  • Digestion 
  • Energy 
  • Blood clotting
  • Muscle Contractions. 

Provide Structure: 

Some proteins, such as keratin, collagen, and elastin, form a framework in your body. 

Balance Fluids: 

Some proteins in your body are in your bloodstream. 

They help your body balance fluids by either attracting or retaining water as necessary. 

And that’s just scratching the surface

How Much Protein to Eat Each Day

You might still be wondering—

But how much protein do we actually need

There are a few ways to find out how much protein you actually need, and how to keep yourself on track. 

One way to determine how much protein you need every day?

Your daily calories. 

Protein is one of three important macronutrients that make up our diet. 

Here is an approximate range of how much of our daily calories should come from each macronutrient: 

  • Protein; 10-30% of our daily calories
  • Carbohydrates, 45-65% of our daily calories
  • Fat, 20-35% of our daily calories

So, if you are consuming an average diet of 2,000 calories per day—

You should consume approximately 50 grams of protein during your day. 

This number will vary depending on a few different factors: 

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Individual health needs

Here is an equation that will help you find out the specific number of grams you should be aiming to eat each day: 

.36 x your weight in pounds = The amount of protein you should eat per day. 

For example, a woman that weights 140 lbs would have the following equation: 

.36 x 140 = 50.4 grams of protein

Want something to make tracking your diet even easier? 

MyFitnessPal has a function on their free app that will keep track of your macronutrients for you in an easy-to-understand pie chart! 

This will help you learn about your daily patterns and how much of each macronutrient you are eating daily—

Without worrying about calorie counting. 

All About the Plants: Discovering Popular Sources of Plant-Based Protein

Now that you understand the importance of protein and how much you need to consume per day—

Let’s talk about the best plant-based sources of protein! 

Beans and Legumes: 

This food family is the most popular way for vegans to get their protein every day. 

Beans and legumes are excellent for you since they aren’t just high in protein—

They are also filled with fiber and other vitamins and minerals. 

About ½ of a cup of beans provides 7 grams of protein! 

Here are different beans and legumes to stock up on: 

  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Red beans
  • Red lentils
  • Green lentils
  • Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) 
  • Fava beans
  • Mung beans
  • Lima beans

Beans and legumes are filling and can be the star of your plant-based dishes. 

Nuts and Seeds: 

Eating just a handful of different nuts and seeds can help you maintain a balanced diet. 

Nuts and seeds are high in protein—

And they are also chalk-full of fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E and B vitamins, calcium, folate, and more. 

Eating just a handful of nuts can have anywhere between 3-7 grams of protein. 

Here are a few nuts and seeds you can sprinkle into your diet: 

  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds

Vegetables: 

Who would have thought that vegetables could also be high in protein? 

Depending on which vegetable you are consuming— 

The amount of protein may vary greatly. 

Here are just a few high-protein vegetables you can add to your diet: 

  • Edamame (1 cup = 18.5 grams of protein)
  • Green peas (1 cup = 8.5 grams of protein)
  • Brussel Sprouts (1 cup = 5.5 grams of protein) 
  • Yellow corn (1 ear = 4.7 grams of protein)
  • Potatoes (1 medium potato = 4.5 grams of protein)
  • Asparagus (1 cup = 4.3 grams of protein)
  • Broccoli (1 stalk = 4.3 grams of protein) 

Stock up on these powerful vegetables the next time you’re at the store! 

Vegan Meat Substitutes and Soy Products: 

There are new vegan meat substitutes on the market every day. 

These meat substitutes and soy products are packed with protein!

Here are a few different foods you can try in your recipes: 

These vegan meat substitutes and soy products are absolutely delicious,

and you can learn more about them in this guide we created! 

However... 

know that it isn’t necessary to stock up on these products every day in order to hit your target protein goal. 

Honorable Mentions: 

There are a few plant-based foods that are high in protein— 

But don’t belong to any other category. 

Here are two ingredients you can include daily in your cooking for an added boost of protein: 

  • Quinoa: 1 cup cooked contains about 8 grams of protein
  • Nutritional Yeast: 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast contains 8 grams of protein

All of these ingredients are versatile and can be the base for your vegan recipes and dishes. 

Vegan Black Bean Soup from Kate of Vegan Blueberry

Plant-Based Recipes: 27 High-Protein Vegan Meals You Need to Try Now!

Now you know the basics about plant-based protein: 

  • How protein works
  • How many grams you should eat per day
  • Plant-based sources to try

All that’s left is learning a few different ways to add vegan protein to your meals! 

This list is filled with healthy high-protein meals that you can try today. 

Breakfast Recipes

There is definitely some truth to the fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! 

For many of us, if we start the day on an unhealthy note— 

It's hard to get back on track later in the day. 

Planning ahead and getting a boost of protein with your breakfast is a great way to get a healthy start! 

Whether you are a sweet or savory morning person—

There is a breakfast on this list that you’re bound to love. 

  1. Oh She Glows has the perfect savory morning recipe for a breakfast burrito. Complete with tofu and nutritional yeast for a great start to your day. 
  2. Did someone say peanut butter protein bars? Check out this recipe by Allergylicious. 
  3. This skillet recipe by Running on Real Food includes vegan sausage and spices like chili powder, cumin, and garlic for a yummy breakfast. 
  4. Everyone loves avocado toast! This recipe from Abbey’s Kitchen calls for a layer of white beans which will give you enough fuel to make it until lunch. 
  5. If you feel like you’re racing out the door every morning, then these protein breakfast bars (paleo-friendly!) by Wall Flower Kitchen will be your lifesaver. 
  6. For all of the sweet tooths out there, you’ll love this chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl by Bakerita. 
  7. If you’re serving breakfast for the whole family, then this potato and tempeh hash by Veg Kitchen is perfect to make in big batches. 
  8. Food Pleasure and Health offers up another hearty avocado toast recipe— this one includes chickpeas.
  9. These healthy peanut butter baked oatmeal bars by Desserts with Benefits are perfect for the person that “doesn’t like eating breakfast.” They are sweet, light, fluffy, and super healthy for you. 
  10. Want a bit of spice in the morning? Try out this curried tofu scramble with spinach from The Spruce Eats. 
  11. This savory potato bowl by Allergylicious is a breakfast fit for kings
  12. My Plantiful Cooking has the perfect recipe for high-protein vegan banana pancakes

Best Vegan Egg Salad with Tofu and Chive from Kate of Vegan Blueberry

Lunch Recipes 

Ideally, you should spread your protein intake throughout the day. 

Lunch is the perfect opportunity to sneak in a couple of grams of protein so that you feel satiated all the way until dinner. 

Here are a few of the best high-protein vegan lunch recipes out there: 

  1. Black bean quinoa bowls are a lunch that you’ll never get tired of eating. 
  2. Creamy and delicious, this simple vegan “egg” sandwich recipe by Vegan Blueberry makes a great lunch. 
  3. Delightful Delicious Delovely has the best recipe for vegan gyros, complete with homemade seitan. 
  4. Quinoa, hummus, and crispy chickpeas make this Mediterranean lunch recipe by Simply Quinoa completely satisfying. 
  5. If you still want to keep lunch light, then try this crispy tofu vegan caesar salad recipe by Emilie Eats. 
  6. This Mongolian seitan recipe by Yup, It’s Vegan sounds difficult, but it’s actually super simple to whip up. 
  7. What better way to get your protein in than by indulging in some incredible 3-bean chili from Haute and Healthy Living. 
  8. For an on-the-go lunch, these crispy tofu nuggets from No Sweat Vegan hit the spot. 
  9. Keeping the Peas keeps it simple with this black bean and quinoa salad recipe. 
  10. This Cajun-style red beans and rice recipe by Emilie Eats is perfect to whip up on a Sunday and enjoy all week long. 
  11. This chickpea lentil dal recipe by Gabbacado is full of spices and reheats really well. 
  12. It can’t get easier than this instant pot black bean soup recipe by Vegan Blueberry. 

Dinner Recipes

Nothing quite hits the spot like a high-protein vegan dinner! 

On this list, you’ll find recipes that are simple to make—

As well as some that are worthy of being served at a gourmet restaurant. 

  1. These vegan Swedish meatballs by Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen have a lentil-base. They are oil-free, nut-free, and gluten-free, making them perfect for a large gathering where you need to accommodate a few different dietary restrictions. 
  2. A recipe that can be made in twenty minutes or less? Sign us up! This easy bean soup recipe from Beauty Bites is perfect for a hectic weeknight. 
  3. If you’ve been intimidated by a stuffed pepper recipe in the past, here is your sign to try it out. Minimalist Baker makes these Spanish quinoa stuffed peppers look easy. 
  4. For special occasions, this lentil-filled shepherd’s pie recipe by The Simple Veganista is outstanding. 
  5. Soup always hits the spot. This Tuscan kale and lentil soup recipe from The Healthy Maven is perfect for a cozy night in. 
  6. Challenge yourself with this Tofu Tikka Masala recipe from Well Plated. 
  7. Counts of the Nether World has the ultimate vegan lentil enchilada recipe. Bonus? This recipe is gluten-free as well! 
  8. This list wouldn’t be complete without a burger recipe! This black-bean burger recipe by Ambitious Kitchen is topped with a creamy tahini garlic cream sauce. 

Easy Chocolate Protein Bars from Nicole of Allergylicious

Plant-Based Protein Power

Now the next time someone asks you, 

“How do vegans get their protein?” 

You’ll have all the answers!

You now have the tools you need to determine how many grams of protein that you need to eat every day. 

Remember, there are tons of different plant-based protein sources out there—

Nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, and even vegetables!

Eat a variety of different plant-based proteins every day for a balanced diet. 

Are you interested in learning how to make some vegan sauces to go along with your new recipes? 

Check out our complete guide all about it! 

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