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Three great protein sources for vegans

Three great protein sources for vegans

According to the Vegan Society there are now 150,000 vegans in the UK, and the movement is growing fast thanks to initiatives like November’s Go Vegan and Veganuary.

Both campaigns encourage people to try going vegan for a month, in the hope that they might make the life change. A vegan diet is one that excludes all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. It’s essentially eating anything that comes from a plant – fruit, vegetables, seeds, pulses, nuts, beans and grains.

Those who read my features on a regular basis will know that I’m always promoting the “balanced plate” concept to encourage the consumption of each of the food groups at any typical meal, and the same applies for vegans. Foods from the protein food group are vital for the growth and repair of muscles and brain development. For a vegan, sources of protein may include beans, nuts, seeds and pulses. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and eating some of them is essential because they can’t be produced by the body.

Meat and fish is classed as a complete protein, in that it contains a sufficient amount of all these essential amino acids, whereas incomplete proteins found in beans, nuts, seeds lack the full range of necessary amino acids. But that’s not an issue for vegans, as long as you’re consuming different protein foods so you get all that you need. As well as being a great source of protein, beans, nuts and seeds offer plenty of other nutritional benefits, which is what I want to brief you on this month. Here are three great protein sources for vegans:

Beans

I’ll start with beans, which are a source of fibre and naturally low in fat. Butter beans are a significant source of manganese, which makes and activates some of the enzymes in the body. Kidney beans however, are a significant source of phosphorus, which combines with calcium to form strong bones. This emphasises the idea that a varied diet is essential to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals – right down to the kind of beans you eat. Jamie’s recipe for beans on toast is a great way to get some inside you.

Nuts

Nuts are, and deservedly so, a staple in the diet of many vegans. They’re a great source of protein, but also potassium, which is necessary for lowering the risk of high blood pressure, and magnesium, which is needed for helping turn the food we eat into energy. Nuts can get a bad reputation due to their high fat content, but they are a source of unsaturated fat (the good fat) and can help lower blood cholesterol.

Seeds

Seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin are a versatile ingredient that can be used in stir-fries, drinks, soups and salads, and a great source of nutrients. Calcium isn’t just found in dairy foods – sesame seeds especially are a great non-dairy source of calcium, needed for strong bones and teeth. However, there is much debate about the availability to the body of calcium from non-dairy foods. Seeds take some flack, because they contain a substance called phytic acid which some studies suggest can hinder calcium absorption. If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals on a vegan diet, perhaps consider topping up with fortified plant milk. However, if you take the time to plan your diet carefully then there shouldn’t be any concerns for nutritional deficiencies.

My favourite Jamie recipe that any vegan (or non-vegan!) would enjoy is his sweet potato veggie chilli, which can be tailored by adding your favourite beans – mine are black-eyed beans, which are a good source of soluble fibre that can be digested and broken down by the body and may help to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. To turn this into a balanced meal, serve it with brown rice or whole-wheat tortillas.

There are plenty more vegan recipes on JO.com to inspire you, especially if you’re signing up to Veganuary in the New Year!


7 Best Sources of Vegan Protein, According to Nutrition Experts

Here's how to up your intake of plant-based foods without sacrificing protein.

Despite what outdated nutrition advice tells us, vegan sources of protein are plentiful, delicious, and affordable. Unfortunately, most consumers still view plant protein as inferior to animal protein sources.

According to Reshma Shah, MD, and Brenda Davis, RD, authors of Nourish: The Definitive Plant-based Nutrition Guide for Families, the two most common myths about plant protein are that you can’t get enough protein from plants alone, and that plant sources of protein are incomplete or lacking in essential amino acids. 

To address the first myth, we need to consider how much protein we need, and how much people eating various dietary patterns consume. “The RDA for protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women,” explains Shah. (You’ll find the ideal amount of protein you should be eating here.) 𠇋ut meat-eaters in industrialized countries average about 100 grams per day, compared to 62 to 82 grams per day for vegans.” According to Shah and Davis, excess protein is not necessarily an advantage, especially when it’s derived from animal sources. “Not only can we design a diet to provide plenty of plant protein, but studies consistently demonstrate increased longevity and reduced disease risk when protein comes from plants instead of animals.” The authors affirm that plants can provide both the quantity and quality of protein people of all ages require, and unlike animal sources of protein, they are low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free, and full of health-promoting fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

𠇊nd as for the second myth, it comes as a bit of a surprise to many consumers that essential amino acids are made by plants, not animals,” Shah explains. 𠇊nimals provide essential amino acids because they acquired them from plants at some point along the food chain. So, it makes no sense to say we can’t get essential amino acids from plants—it’s where they come from.”

The key to meeting protein requirements is to ensure adequate quantity and variety of foods in your diet. Here are the seven best sources of plant-based protein, according to health and nutrition experts Shah and Davis.


1. Chickpeas, 14.7g protein

Chickpea nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked chickpeas contains:

  • 14.7g protein
  • 263 calories
  • 5.83g fat
  • 40.4g carbohydrates
  • 13.1g fiber

You say, “garbanzo beans.” I say, “chickpeas.” However you say it, these fun-shaped legumes are one of the best ways to meet your daily protein needs.

Legumes are a go-to vegan protein source for vegetarians and vegans because they’re naturally high in protein and other nutrients.

Chickpeas are a favorite vegan protein source because of their mild but delicious flavor and versatile texture.

Chickpeas are also accessible, affordable, and easy to prepare. You can buy them pre-made in cans almost anywhere. Check your grocery store for a bulk section, and you can buy dried chickpeas in bulk and batch cook them in a pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot.

Think you’ve never had chickpeas before? Think again. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus and falafel, and they’re commonly used in Indian and Mediterranean inspired cuisine.

High-protein vegan chickpea recipes


12 of the Best Vegan Protein Sources

When it comes to protein, vegans shouldn’t feel like they’re being left out of the party. While a vegan protein powder can be a great way of making sure you’re getting all the protein you need into your diet, it’s not the only way a vegan can feed their body the all-important macronutrient.

Plants and seeds can provide more than sufficient amounts of protein to responsibly substitute for meat and dairy. The bulk of them also offer far superior nutritional profiles in terms of fibre, vitamins and minerals, not forgetting their relative ease of digestibility.

And regardless of the fact that many of the vegan protein sources you’ll see on this list are complete proteins with all 9 essential amino acids, it’s widely agreed that a cocktail of legumes, seeds, grains and vegetables needn’t be incorporated onto every plate to provide sufficient daily protein, granted that your diet spreads these different sources over the course of the day.

So whether you’re looking for new ingredients for your next plant-based feast, or are simply seeking inspiration for high-protein alternatives as you transition into a diet containing fewer animal products, read on for 12 of the very best sources of vegan protein.

Lentils

Protein per 100g: 25g (raw) 8.8g (cooked)

Lentils are nutritional powerhouses, containing around 18g of protein per cooked cup. Delicious in soups and dahls, or as a component of salads, one cup will also provide you with half your daily recommendation of fibre, while providing ample folate, manganese and iron, too. Grouped with beans as part of the legume family, lentils are extremely easily digested. The rule tends to be the smaller the bean, the easier to stomach.

Tempeh

Protein per 100g: 20g (cooked)

Soybeans are extremely high in protein, providing the body with all the essential amino acids it needs. Tofu and tempeh are both made from soybeans, the former from bean curds pressed together much like how cheese is made, and the latter made by pressing together fermented soybeans into a patty. A portion of 85g of tempeh provides 15g of protein, and if you source it GMO-free and organic you’ll have no issues with what increasingly seems to be a blown out of proportion reporting of oestrogen imbalance.

Lupin Beans/Lupini Bean

Protein per 100g: 36g (raw) 16g (cooked)

Popular in traditional Mediterranean cooking, lupin or lupini beans are one of the highest sources of plant-based protein available at approximately 40% of their total nutritional split and 26g per cup. Closely related to peas, the bright yellow legume has a bitter taste thanks to the alkaloids in them, but boast excellent bioavailability so that impressive protein content doesn’t go to waste.

Other beans and legumes

Protein per 100g (kidney beans): 23g (raw) 8.7g (cooked)

Beans of the pinto, kidney and garbanzo (aka chickpeas) variety are all great protein sources that have been shown to be especially beneficial for feeding our gut bacteria. Per cooked cup, you’ll find in the region of 15g for most types, plus a host of beneficial plant compounds and minerals.

As we’ve mentioned, the smaller the bean, the easier to digest, which is why the yellow split pea – with its 9 essential amino acids – is a preferable choice in tasty dahls. But breaking down chickpeas into hummus is also a great way to improve the digestion of these vegan protein sources. Check out our savoury recipe ebook for several great hummus recipes to try.

Hemp seeds

Protein per 100g: 32g

Hemp is something of a vegan poster child, and for many more reasons than its seeds’ protein. Being a weed, hemp grows without the need for much water compared to most other plants (and indeed animals) and with no pesticides. It also takes up relatively little land, is biodegradable, and virtually every part of the plant can be used (for everything from paints to textiles).

Nutritionally-speaking, as much as 25% of total calories from hemp seeds come from high-quality protein (complete with all 9 essential amino acids). This is more than both chia and flax seeds – which are around 16-19% protein – and translates to 11g of protein from a 30g serving. They also provide a great ratio of Omega 3:6 3:1 rather than the rather more inflammatory 20:1 consumed in many modern diets.

Note that it’s best to eat hemp seeds raw, as their oil is prone to rancidity and you’ll get the most of their benefits in raw form.

Chia Seeds

Protein per 100g: 17g

Chia seeds are, too, a complete protein, boasting all 9 essential amino acids. The minuscule seeds are packed full of fibre and are another great source of omega 3s.

Though you might have come across chia seeds sprinkled on salads and porridges, they should ideally be soaked before consuming, preferably overnight. They absorb an immense amount of water and eating them raw has the potential to absorb that which is in your system, in turn slowing down digestion and requiring you to drink a lot of water to balance out the effects.

Consider then, incorporating them into your overnight oats with your plant-based milk and vegan protein powder of choice, or consuming as delicious chia pudding, a recipe for which you can find here.

Quinoa

Protein per 100g: 14g (cooked) 4.4 g (cooked)

Quinoa is yet another complete protein source, with a total protein content of 13.8%. One cup of the ancient South American seed contains around 8g of protein.

And yes, you read that correctly – contrary to what you may have thought thanks to its common use as a rice alternative, quinoa is technically a seed. It’s also related to beetroot, spinach and chard, and its leaves can be prepared and eaten in a similar way.

Leafy Greens

Protein per 100g (kale): 2.9g (cooked and raw)

As vegan protein sources go, vegetables are often overlooked. But leafy greens contain bioavailable and assimilable proteins, and it’s important to remember that just because something is high in protein doesn’t mean you’ll be able to digest it properly and use it efficiently.

So, though the protein content of leafy greens such as kale, spinach, watercress and cabbage may not look like much on paper, their superior digestibility make for an easy way to boost your daily protein intake. As well as making sure your meals boast a considerable portion of leafy greens, you can also add them to shakes such as in this Supergreen Smoothie recipe.

Spirulina

Protein per 100g: 57g

Nutrient-dense spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s lauded for many more health benefits than protein alone. But with as much as 60% of its dry weight attributed to protein, it’s a far richer source than most plants.

In addition to 2 tbsp providing 8g of easily digested complete protein, its phycocyanins – which have powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties – are key for aiding athletic performance and general health functioning alike.

As spirulina absorbs toxins from its environment, questions have been raised as to contamination within different variations. Indeed, traces of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic have been reported in products from China, where the water is prone to contamination. For a purer strain, opt instead for the Hawaiian kind.

Brown Rice

Protein per 100g: 7.5g (raw) 2.7g (cooked)

With such a plethora of great-tasting vegan dishes (curries, chillies, salads) lending themselves to some form of grain base, it can be daunting to omit rice altogether. Though quinoa provides a high-protein substitute that’s texturally not alien, brown rice also boasts an admirable 5.5g of protein per cooked cup. And unlike white rice, the brown variety isn’t stripped of its bran, making for a more fibrous, vitamin and mineral-rich grain.

Seed and Nut Butters

Protein per 100g (almond butter): 21g

Full of monounsaturated (good) fat, seed and nut butters boast generous helpings of protein. Made at home, these spreads and smoothie additions needn’t contain any more than one ingredient in its raw or roasted form, blended for approximately 10 minutes.

That being the case, seed and nut butters boast all the protein of their key ingredient 9.6g per 28g of sunflower seeds, 9g per 28g of peanuts, 7g per 28g of pumpkin seeds, and 6g per 28g of almonds or pistachios. Raw butters tend to be superior in terms of reaping all the nutritional benefits, except for peanuts which have to be cooked.

Protein per 100g (oat bran raw): 17g

In the macronutrient stakes, oats are most commonly considered a carbohydrate, and indeed 66% of their dry weight is made up of carbs. But 11-17% of oats are a source of quality protein, higher than most other grains.

Most often consumed at breakfast in rolled or steel-cut form, oats have long been hailed as a kitchen cupboard stalwart for healthy eating in part because of the beta-glucan that makes them so satiating.

They’re also extremely versatile, and you’ll find plenty of porridge and overnight oats recipes which can be infused with vegan protein powders on our Recipes page.

Form’s vegan protein powders provide between 20-30g of multi-source plant-based protein per serving. Made from a mix of organic pea, rice, hemp and algae proteins, incorporating into shakes and bakes or mixing with select ingredients listed above is a hassle-free way to ensure you’re reaching your daily nutrition needs on a plant-based diet.


3. Cauliflower Bolognese Sauce

This cauliflower Bolognese sauce is not only super easy to make but it’s also incredibly healthy! Instead of ground meat, the recipe calls for cauliflower. Yes! Cauliflower! It’s such an incredible vegetable! As all my recipes, the cauliflower Bolognese is 100 % vegan. Besides, it’s also gluten-free and low in calories.


Best Sources of Vegan Protein

The best sources of vegan protein for you should follow the following criteria:

  • Provides a good amount of protein density - at least 25% of the calories are coming from protein.
  • Provides other nutritional benefits like vitamins, minerals, healthy fat or fiber.
  • Fits within your calorie and macro goals.
  • Tastes good and makes you feel good from the inside out!

To get some ideas on where to start, here are some favorites:

1. Spirulina - 64% Protein Dense

I bet you couldn't guess this strange green "superfood" was going to top the list for protein dense plants! Although to be fair, spirulina is more of a supplement than a food and its difficult to get a significant amount of protein from it.

Spirulina is actually classified as a type of bacteria found in blue-green algae and is consumed primarily in supplement form through powders, capsules and in packaged foods.

It is fairly protein dense and low caloire, plus it contains notable amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and iron.

One tablespoon of spirulina has:

To get the protein benefits of spirulina, try adding a scoop to your morning smoothie or in other recipes for a small protein boost.

2. Seitan - 60% to 80% Protein Dense

Made primarily from vital wheat protein (aka gluten), seitan is rarely gluten-free.

While vital wheat protein as an ingredient sounds strange, it's super easy to come by. Seitan is made by washing wheat flour with water until all of the starch is removed and just the sticky, protein-rich components remain. This protein is then seasoned a bit and "beefed" up with some flour or starch to add the right texture and then viola!

One 4-ounce serving of seitan will get you:

Just like tofu and most other vegan "meats", seitan takes on added flavors easily and works in most recipes as a meat substitute. Personally, I like it pan fried or oven baked the best!

3. Soy or Pea Protein Crumbles - 53% Protein Dense

Protein is extracted from peas or soy in the form of a protein isolate (aka pea protein isolate and soy protein isolate), similar to how protein powder is made. This protein is then blended with other plant based ingredients and cooked into small crumbles that can be used just like ground meat!

A 1/2 cup scoop of pea protein crumbles provides:

Protein crumbles are also typically gluten free and can replace ground meat in many recipes.

4. Nutritional Yeast - 53% Protein Dense

Nutritional yeast works as a great cheese alternative for vegans that also has a solid amount of protein.

When used as a topping alone it can be hard to get high amounts of protein from this food, but when used in recipes like vegan mac and cheese (pssst. use high protein pasta, duh!), stirred into cooked quinoa, or blended with a tofu scramble, it adds a bit more.

It's also a tremendous source of B-vitamins and folate.

A hefty 1/4 cup portion of nutritional yeast contains:

Use nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute in your favorite high protein vegan recipes!

5. Protein Pasta - 48% Protein Dense

All hail our favorite carb that has now transformed into a source of quality protein. Pastas made from beans, lentils and soy are typically made with simple ingredients (sometimes only one ingredient), and can be a great vegan protein staple.

By upping the fiber and protein content using beans and legumes, these pastas can still give that chewy al dente taste we love, but also bring a serious bout of protein with it. Even better, these noodles are also naturally gluten-free.

A two-ounce standard serving of edamame pasta contains:

Edamame pasta is also a source of calcium and iron, and it has 11 grams of fiber per serving, bringing down the net carb content significantly.

6. Tempeh - 46% Protein Dense

Similar to tofu, tempeh is made with soybeans. However, the process of creating tempeh uses fermented soybeans to create a cake-like texture. Tempeh is slightly less processed than tofu and packs a serious protein punch, along with fiber and iron.

Four ounces of tempeh has:

Tempeh is also naturally gluten-free.

7. Tofu - 42% Protein Dense

Made from soybeans that are ground, heated, and then thickened with added calcium, magnesium, and salt, tofu is a vegan staple. It takes on the flavor of just about anything you season with, can be found in soft to extra firm textures.

Because tofu is made with added calcium, it tends to be a good source of calcium! Which is great for vegans who don't get any dairy products in their diet and may be lacking in this key mineral.

8. Soy Milk - 40% Protein Dense

Made from soy, soy milk is a source of complete protein. It is also one of the few non-dairy milks that provides protein - most nut and grain milks have less than one gram of protein per serving.

Opting for soy milk can add a small amount of protein to recipes or to your beverage choice.

One cup of light, unsweetened soy milk has:

Look for non-sweetened flavor options to cut back on added sugar and calories!

9. Edamame - 38% Protein Dense

It's not surprised that whole soy beans are a source of protein considering so many vegan products are made from them. You can eat them on their own in the pods with a little bit of sea salt as a great protein snack option or use them in a variety of recipes paired with other veggies and protein-containing grains.

A 1/2 cup serving of edamame has:

Edamame also packs some iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. Moreover, soy is a complete protein, so edamame and other soy containing products provide all of your essential amino acids!

10. Vegan Sausage - 34% Protein Dense

Soy, peas, or wheat protein can also be used to made meat-free sausages. Similar to other meat alternatives, vegan sausage uses a protein isolate combined with plant based ingredients that is then shaped and cooked into a sausage-like product.

While pork or beef sausage uses an animal-based casing, vegan sausage uses cellulose from plants. Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate found in plant cells and is primarily responsible for making stems, leaves and branches strong.

One cooked pea protein sausage has:

11. Broccoli - 33% Protein Dense

Broccoli is one of the most protein dense veggies around, but you have to eat a lot of it to get a significant source of protein overall. Thus, this badass little veggie is best used as an additional protein boost to meals not as a sole meat substitute.

Because broccoli is low in calories, fat and carbs, it works as a great small protein boost to meals without compromising your overall macro balance!

12. Lentils - 31% Protein Dense

Lentils are a great whole food way to add some serious fiber and a bit of protein to your meals. Replace rice or other grains with lentils in soups, pilafs, or as the base for any dish to grab some nutrition benefits.

One cup of cooked lentils provides:

Lentils are also an excellent source of iron, vitamin B-6, potassium, and magnesium.

13. Beyond Burgers - 25% Protein Dense

Made up of pea protein and other plant based ingredients, these burgers pack a whopping 20 grams of protein each.

The nutrition breakdown for one burger is as follows:

For those that still enjoy the taste and consistency of real meat, they use beet juice to mimic ground beef coloring. These burgers are also made with non-GMO ingredients, are gluten-free, soy-free, and they provide roughly 25% of your daily value for iron (a mineral most commonly consumed in meat products).

14. Beans - 25% Protein Dense

Beans are an old school vegan protein that still stacks up quite a few benefits. Naturally gluten-free and soy-free, you can use them in just about any recipe.

To help cut back on carbs, consider using beans in place of other grains or starchy foods and pair them with some low-carb veggies and perhaps other vegan proteins to help balance out the macros further.

A 1/2 cup portion of cooked black beans has:

Beans are also a source of healthy fiber, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

15. Hemp Seeds - 25% Protein Dense

Hemp seeds are considered a complete protein and a source of healthy fats. They also contain a decent amount of iron and fiber.

Three tablespoons of hemp seeds provides:

Easily add hemp seeds as a topping to salads, grain bowls, or toasts to give your dish a little protein boost.

5 Slightly Less Protein Dense Options to Consider

While the following options may not meet at least 25% protein density, they are still a notable source and worth pairing with some of the foods above to increase your intake further.

1. Sprouted Grains - 20% Protein Dense

Nearly all whole grains can contain small amounts of protein, but sprouted grains may contain a tad bit more. Sprouted grains are grains that have been soaked and allowed to begin to sprout - breaking down the fibrous outer shell along with sugars to produce a more nutrient dense, heartier grain.

You can shop for sprouted whole grains in the form of rice and quinoa, or opt for sprouted grain breads.

One small slice of sprouted whole grain bread contains:

2. Peanuts and Peanut Butter - 18% Protein Dense

Peanuts are the highest protein nut and also a source of healthy fat. If looking for an added fat option that can also bump up your protein, look no further than roasted peanuts or peanut butter. Just be mindful of your portion size because calories can add up quick with nuts.

A 1/4 cup or small handful of peanuts has:

3. Quinoa - 15% Protein Dense

Quinoa, though more carb heavy than other vegan proteins, is technically a complete protein and one of the higher protein grains out there.

A 4-ounce scoop of quinoa provides:

4. Almonds and Almond Butter - 14% Protein Dense

Not too far behind peanuts, almonds can also contain a bit of protein along with healthy fats and fiber.

A 1/4 cup or small handful of peanuts has:

5. Chia Seeds - 14% Protein Dense

While mostly a source of healthy fats, chia seeds can also bring some fiber and protein to the table. In fact, one small serving of chia seeds has a whopping 10 grams of fiber, helping to keep you feeling satisfied. They are also a source of calcium, iron and magnesium.

Two tablespoons (1-ounce) of chia seeds contains:

Add chia seeds to your morning oatmeal or try them in this tasty pumpkin pie chia pudding recipe.

Protein Powders - 87% Protein Dense

Another way to supplement protein intake is with vegan protein supplements. Vegan protein powders include soy, hemp, brown rice, and pea protein and come in a variety of flavors.

You can use protein powders to help supplement your intake as needed in simple shakes or adding them to recipes like breads and baked goods, pancakes, oatmeal, etc.

A scoop of vegan soy protein isolate powder has:

Pssst. these powders are often the culprit behind a lot of higher protein vegan foods like protein bars. Look for options made without filler ingredients.


Amaranth is similar to quinoa and teff in its nutritional content, though much tinier in size. This ancient pseudo-grain (also a seed) adds 7 grams of protein to your meals in just one cup of cooked amaranth. It’s also a fantastic source of iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. Try it in these yummy burgers that pair amaranth with lentil and all types of different spices.


High Protein Vegan Recipes for Bodybuilding

These vegan recipes are not only delicious but also healthy and provide all the necessary AAs for bodybuilding.

1. Dal

Indian recipes have some of the best high protein vegan recipes. Dal is one of such Indian foods. Here’s what you’ll need for this vegan meal.

Ingredients

  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, sliced
  • Thumb-sized ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 200g uncooked red lentils
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 50g cashew nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Begin by toasting the cumin seeds and mustard on low heat in a large pan. Once toasted, add the onion and a little water and sauté for five minutes.

Add garlic, chilies, and ginger and cook for two minutes. Add the cinnamon and tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.

Once you get that aromatic smell, put in the lentils and 2 cups of water. For a thinner meal, add some more water.

In a food blender, put the cashew nuts and some water and blend to a smooth paste. Put the paste into the cooked dal and leave it to simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes. The lentils should completely disintegrate.

Add salt and pepper as needed and garnish with coriander. Serve hot with naan or rice.

The meal provides 346 calories, 8.9 grams of fat, 19.7 grams of protein, and 50.3 grams of carbs.

2. High-Protein Breakfast Shake

Your breakfast doesn’t have to be bread and coffee at all times. In any case, a bodybuilder requires more than just a light meal to get started. A protein shake can be an excellent alternative to breakfasts that lack proteins.

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • 1 cup unsweetened milk, non-dairy or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp. powdered peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vegan protein powder
  • 1 tbsp. maca powder
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp. hemp seeds

Directions

Blend the ingredients until you have a consistent smoothie. Serve chilled.

3. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is gluten-free and only requires a few ingredients. However, it’s packed with nothing short of a flavorful punch. It can be served as a meal on its own or combined with other dinner recipes.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium or large sweet potatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100 grams of corn
  • Juice of a half lemon
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • Tahini sauce
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. cumin, grounded
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • Coriander for garnish

Directions

Clean the sweet potatoes and gently prick them with a pointed knife. Place them in a baking sheet evenly lined with a baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and slice then in half, lengthwise.

Fry the black beans, tomatoes, corn, onions, and spices on medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

For your dressing, mix the tahini paste with water and lemon juice. Top the sweet potatoes with the bean mixture and sprinkle the tahini dressing. Add the coriander for garnishing.

1/3 serving of the recipe provides 328 calories. It also contains 5.9g fat, 60.4g of carbs, and 11.7g protein.

4. Red Pepper and Chickpea Salad

This recipe serves 8 to 10 people.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of chickpeas, 150 oz. each, unsalted, drained and rinsed
  • 3 red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat pitas

Directions

Put all the above contents in a large bowl, cover, and chill for at least two hours. This is to allow the flavors to blend. Remove from the fridge after chilling and spoon into a whole wheat pita.

5. Lentil Bolognese

This is an Italian recipe that’ll satisfy your craving for tasty food. It’s loaded with veggies and lentils, and it can be your new favorite meal. In this recipe, lentils substitute ground beef to offer vegans a tantalizing meal.

Ingredients

  • 400g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 250g uncooked lentils
  • ½ liter vegetable stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a pan and on medium-high heat, add in the mushrooms, celery, onion, and carrots. Let them cook for 7 minutes until the mushrooms release their water.

Add the garlic and tomato puree and let them simmer for about 2 minutes. At this point, add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock, lentils, and other spices. The amount of vegetable stock you need will vary depending on your preference.

Leave to cook for 40 minutes until the lentils are soft. Add the salt and pepper. Serve with pasta or rice.

1/3 serving of this recipe has 406 calories, 27.2g protein, 2.8g fat, and 74.7g carbs.

6. Mujadara

If you love lentils, then this meal should definitely be something worth preparing. Mujadara is a favorite Middle Eastern dish that qualifies as a high protein vegan dish. You should consider having it in your recipe list, and you can use brown or white rice, depending on what you want.

Ingredients

  • 200g uncooked green lentils
  • 1tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. grounded cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 200g uncooked rice
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • Juice of a half lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

In a cooking pot and on low heat, put the lentils and 500ml of water and simmer until tender. Add the cumin seeds to a casserole pan and toast them in medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the onions to the cumin seeds and cook for 15-20 minutes while adding water as necessary.

Once the onion is cooked, scoop about a third of it for later use. Add the minced garlic and all the other spices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cooked lentils and the rice, then add 700 ml of water to the casserole and stir. Simmer for 30 minutes until the rice is ready.

In the meantime, prepare the tahini sauce by stirring the tahini, lemon juice, and water together.

Serve your dish with a wedge of lemon, garnish with the onions you scooped, and sprinkle the tahini sauce.

A serving of this recipe, which is a third, provides 579 calories, 23.5g protein, 6.6g fat, and 107.3g carbs.

7. Vegan Chili Sin Carne

Are you looking for a protein-rich dinner? Then you should definitely try this vegan chili sin carne. This is a cozy recipe that is high in protein and highly delicious. You can prepare it in about 30 minutes and sit down for a delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • 250ml vegetable broth
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 100g corn
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Toss the diced onion and bell pepper in a pan with some garlic, some water, and chili. Sauté the mixture on medium-high heat until it has an aromatic smell.

Add the broth, lentils, beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, spices, and tomato paste. Stir everything in and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the salt and pepper to taste or some spicy seasoning as per your preference. Some excellent accompaniments of this dish are toasted bread, jasmine rice, or tangy guacamole.

A third portion of the recipe contains 284 calories, 17.3g protein, 2.1g fat, and 53.6g carbs.

8. Vegan Protein Pancakes

If you’re looking for something you can have for breakfast, use this recipe. They’re fiber-rich and satisfying to nourish your mornings every day.

Ingredients

  • Half ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 30g vegan protein powder
  • 120 ml plant milk
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 40g oatmeal
  • Stevia or other sweeteners

Directions

Mash the banana and put it aside. Mix the flaxseed and two tablespoons of water to create an “egg.” Set it aside for a few minutes.

Mix the banana, flax mixture, plant milk, protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon, oatmeal, and sweetener in a bowl. You’ll get a thick batter mixture for your pancakes.

On a heated pan, scoop some of the mixture and cook each side on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Top it with jam, nut butter, or fruit.


How to calculate a balanced, high protein vegan diet

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) for nutrition, the protein requirement of a healthy adult is about 0.83 g/kg body weight per day.

A person weighing about 75 kg would need to consume about 60 g of protein per day, not counting physical activity.

But is it possible for a vegan to consume a sufficient amount of protein to build muscle?

If you are active in sports and work on a targeted muscle build-up, your protein requirement can sometimes rise to 1.4 to 2 g/kg body weight per day.


6 Sources of Vegan Protein

To ensure you’re getting sufficient vegan protein for optimal health, be sure your diet includes some of these foods.

Broccoli, Spinach, Asparagus, and Peas

“Plants have a ton of protein,” says Harter. Broccoli has 4 grams of protein per cup, spinach boasts 3.5 grams of protein per cup, asparagus has 4 grams of protein per spear, and peas have 8 grams per cup. “Veggies are more nutritious the less they are cooked but can sometimes be harder to digest,” Harter adds. She offers a tip to lightly steam veggies then add the water to your dish to get the nutrients back.  

Lentils and Beans

Lentils are a legume, which means they are part of the bean and pea family (same as pinto beans and chickpeas, for example), which means they’re grown as a seed or pod. Lentils come in a variety of colors, with black lentils holding the most protein. “Not only are beans a good source of protein, yielding about 14 grams per cup, but they’re also a phenomenal source of fiber and prebiotics that help feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut” Babb says. Adding lentils to a veggie soup is an easy way to increase your vegan protein.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a convenient source of vegan protein, whether you’re adding them to your entrພ or enjoying as a portable snack. For example, check out pumpkin seeds which have a whopping 12 grams of protein per 1 cup. Babb also recommends using nut and seed butters, like peanut butter and almond butter, as a great way to bump up your plant-based protein.

Plant-Based Protein Powder

Using a plant-based protein powder is economical and convenient. “Most popular is pea protein-based protein powders and these can be a good way to boost protein levels for vegans who are more active and/or might be looking to build lean mass,” Babb says. Another popular question is about whey protein and vegans. “Whey protein is a powder that comes from animal milk (usually cow’s milk) and is not vegan," Harter clarifies. There are other protein powders such as hemp that are a good vegan alternative.” If you’re looking for a grab and go lunch or to fuel post-workout, try vegan protein powder.


Pea Protein Powder

Yes, there is also a protein powder option for those of you who don’t eat dairy products.

I will warn you, however, that the chalky taste is very noticeable and tough to cover up in even the most well-blended of protein shakes. It’s very convenient for traveling or when you’re short on protein and don’t feel like cooking, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the taste.

The amount of protein you’ll get per serving can depend on the brand, but it can typically be anywhere from 15-20g of protein per serving.

Protein For All

As you can see, it’s not super difficult to get high-protein sources if you don’t eat meat, it just takes a little curiosity and the willingness to try a few new things. Eat a wide array of the high-protein foods listed above (in addition to your veggies) to get everything your body needs so that you can recover, stay full and satisfied, and build muscle just like your meat-loving counterparts.