Want to add more plant-based protein to your diet?
So you’re vegan? New to adopting a plant-based lifestyle? Looking to add more plant-based protein to your diet? Chances are, you’ve heard the question: “Where do you get your protein?” As someone who’s been a vegetarian for almost ten years, I’ve been at the receiving end of this question more times than I can count.
In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated that a vegetarian or vegan diet could provide all the nutritional requirements needed for adults, children, those who were pregnant or breast-feeding and athletes.
So, it’s clearly possible to adopt a plant-based lifestyle and still get enough protein. That being said, those who have decided to take on a plant-based diet may have a harder time getting enough protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B-12.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends cooking more meatless meals as well as finding more creative ways to use plant-based protein. They suggest adding soft tofu to a blended soup to make it thicker and creamier or making trail mix by combining whole grain cereal with nuts and seeds.
12 Ways to Introduced More Plant-based Protein into Your Diet
1. Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
Soy products are among the richest sources of protein in a plant-based diet. For vegetarians, vegans and those looking to remove dairy from their diet, soy can serve as a major source of protein.
The protein content varies with how the soy is prepared so it’s important to read labels carefully:
- firm tofu (soybean curds) contains about 10 g of protein per ½ cup
- edamame beans (immature soybeans) contain 8.5 g of protein per ½ cup
- tempeh contains about 15 g of protein per ½ cup
Soy is also a great option due to its versatility. Tofu, for example, takes on the flavour of whatever you’re cooking so it can be easily substituted for meat such as chicken.
Many soy products also contain calcium and iron which makes them good dairy substitutes. Similarly, soy-based milk is higher in protein than other plant-based milk.
Quinoa is a grain with a high-protein content and comes in three main types: white, red and black.
Cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein per cup and is rich in other nutrients, including magnesium, iron, fiber, and manganese. You can use it in place of pasta, in soup or sprinkled over salad.
Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, which makes them a filling food. Cooked chickpeas contain around 7.25 g per ½ cup.
They can be added to soups, curries, stir fry or just roasted with paprika and cumin. Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, can be added to sandwiches or pitas for a healthy, protein-rich alternative to butter.
Red or green lentils contain plenty of protein, fiber, and key nutrients, including iron and potassium. Lentils are made up of over 25% protein, which makes them an excellent meat alternative when cooking stews, curries or rice.
Cooked lentils contain 8.84 g of protein per ½ cup.
5. Chia Seeds
If you follow any vegan influencers you’ve probably seen photos and recipes of chia pudding. Chia seeds are available at many supermarkets and health food stores. You can soak them in almond milk or water to make your own pudding or you can add a few tablespoons to a smoothie or plant-based yogurt.
Chia seeds are a complete source of protein which contain 2 g of protein per tablespoon.
6. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a complete protein and have 5 g of protein per tablespoon. They’re similar to chia seeds so you can sprinkle them on salads, noodle dishes or stir-fries. Or, if you want to add more protein to your morning routine you can add them to a smoothie or breakfast bowl.
Hemp seeds are particularly great for vegetarians who are following a high-protein diet.
Some people confuse seitan with tofu or tempeh, but the two couldn’t be more different. Tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans, while seitan is made of gluten.
It’s a complete protein made from mixing wheat gluten with various spices. However, people with gluten sensitivities or celiac should avoid seitan. For those without dietary restrictions, it can be a protein-rich meat substitute.
When cooked in soy sauce, seitan becomes a complete protein source offering 21 g per 1/3 cup.
In comparison to other foods on this list, potatoes are lower in protein. When you look at foods such as wheat, rice and corn, potatoes have the lowest amount of protein. However, the protein quality of potatoes is very high for a plant (even higher than that of soybeans and other legumes.)
So don’t expect to get all your protein from potatoes alone.
A large baked potato can offer 8 g of protein per serving. Potatoes are also high in several other minerals and nutrients, such as potassium, folate and vitamin C.
Peanuts are protein-rich and full of healthy fats. They contain around 20.5 g of protein per ½ cup. Peanut butter is also rich in protein. You can get 8 g of protein per tablespoon so expect to be enjoying peanut butter sandwiches for lunch (or adding peanut butter to future baking endeavors.)
Almonds offer 16.5 g of protein per ½ cup. It’s less protein than peanuts but they make up for it with other nutrients. Pistachios and pecans are also a great option for people looking to add more protein to their diet.
10. Protein Powder
Leaves House currently carries Canadian Protein All Natural Vegan Protein Blend. It’s non-GMO and made from the finest plant-based ingredients including pea protein isolate, organic brown rice protein, hemp protein. It’s 100% vegan and vegetarian-friendly and each sample bag contains 21 g of protein. We currently carry unflavoured, chocolate, vanilla, peaches and cream and apple cinnamon.
Recommended Dose: Adults: 1 Scoop 1 time per day. Mix product well in 1-2 cups of liquid (water, juice, etc.) immediately before consumption.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in both salt and freshwater. It contains around 8 g of protein per two tablespoons and is rich in other nutrients such as iron and B vitamins.
Spirulina is also available as a powder or a supplement. Add it to water, smoothies, or fruit juice or sprinkle it over salad or snacks to increase their protein content.
12. Oats or Oatmeal
If you like eating porridge in the morning, you’re in luck! Oats are an easy and delicious way to add protein to any diet.
Half a cup (120 ml) of dry oats provides you with approximately 6 g of protein and 4 g of fiber. Oats are not considered a complete protein however they do contain higher-quality protein than other grains such as rice or wheat. You can even grind oats to make flour for baking.