Something many vegans are criticized for is the potential for them to not consume enough protein. As someone who could live on bread, and bread alone, I have to make a fairly conscious effort to get enough protein in my diet, so here are some things that I try to incorporate into my diet on a weekly, if not daily, basis to keep my body happy and healthy.
Protein shakes. Recently, I have been making a conscious effort to make a post-workout protein shake every day. I use Orgain protein powder, which I have mentioned in previous posts. I have two different favors: the vanilla bean protein powder and creamy chocolate fudge protein powder. Having both options is great because it prevents me from losing interesting in one flavor. Plus, by consuming two servings of protein powder a day, which is only about 150 calories, I consume about 22 g of protein, a little under half of my daily dietary needs. If I consume one of these shakes as a workout supplement, I only consume about 2 scoops (two servings) with around 1 ½ cups of unsweetened almond milk, but if I am using them as a meal replacement, I will make one of the following:
- Peanut-butter chocolate protein shake. 1 banana, 1 1/2 – 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk, 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and a sprinkle of chocolate chips.
- Vanilla fruit protein smoothie. 1 banana, 1 ½ – 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk, 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder, around 1 cup of frozen fruit of your choosing, 1 teaspoon of stevia, 1-2 ice cubes
Black beans. In addition to protein powders, another favorite go-to for protein of mine is black beans. Why? About 1 cup of black beans has 39 g of protein and 16 mg of iron, and cans of beans are cheap. Additionally, since I’m from California and love Mexican food, black beans are incredibly easy to incorporate into my diet. I often eat black beans in a burrito-style bowl, coming white rice, black beans, salsa, and (if I am in the mood for it) some vegan cheese. Another option, especially if you are still weaning yourself off of meat, is black bean burgers. While they are not as good for you, these burger replacements contain the protein and iron you’d find in red meat.
Peas and lentils. This was a source of protein that took me by surprise, as I didn’t realize that peas and lentils are awesome sources of both protein and iron until I became a vegetarian: About 1 cup of peas has 8 g of protein and 2.1 mg of iron, and about 1 cup of lentils has 18 g of protein and 6.6. mg of iron. While you can eat these two things by themselves, I find it easiest to mix peas and lentils into burrito-style bowls with rice; soup is another great way to consume these sources of protein. Either of way, both options are easy to grab, especially for a day out.
Tofu. Okay, I know a lot of people aren’t going to like me for this one, but tofu is a great source of protein, containing a whopping total of 48 g of protein per block. The best part about tofu is that it can be easily mixed into a variety of foods. For example, not to hammer this one over your head again, but remember that bowl of rice and vegetables that I mentioned? Throw some tofu in there with your peas, and you’ve got a reasonable amount of plant-based protein. As I mentioned with the black bean burgers, there are some other meat replacements out there that are made of tofu, which you can find at most natural grocery stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
If you’re a vegan, or a vegetarian, are you tired of people asking you if you get protein? What do you eat to make sure you meet your dietary needs? Share in the comments below.
The featured photo was taken by Priscilla du Preez. Find more of her work at unsplash.com.