How Can Vegans Get Enough Protein

Will Eating More Vegan Protein Sources Help You Lose Weight

How Can Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

Its common weight-loss advice that, in order to lose weight, you need to bump up your protein intake.

Kinda wrong, kinda right.

Of all the macronutrients , protein is the most satiating.

Thats just a fancy way of saying that, if you eat more protein at a meal, you will likely feel more satisfied for longer.

Thats a big deal in the weight loss world where a decrease in caloric intake usually means a shift in hunger and fullness levels. Ensuring protein at every meal will increase satisfaction and hopefully, decrease the desire to overeat.

While satiation is important in weight loss, its not the only factor. Adding in amino acids in any variety will work- you dont need to overload your plate with too much protein to get this effect.

Fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will also increase satiation as will a little bit of fat!

No Meat Doesnt Mean No Protein

Protein is an important dietary element, and meat isnt essential. If you eat pulses and dairy youll be powered by protein, despite what well-meaning relatives may say.

Even if you cant give up meat entirely, you could try replacing it a few times a week. Regular pulse and vegetable based meals can improve your health and help build a more sustainable planet.

Its worth making the effort to go vegetarian so why not give it a try?

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Becky Mathews is a British freelance writer with years of experience in the health and wellbeing niche.

How Can I Get Enough Calcium

Calcium helps you maintain strong bones. Non-vegans get most of their calcium from dairy foods, so it’s important for vegans to get calcium from other foods.

Good sources of calcium for vegans are:

  • fortified unsweetened soya, rice and oat milk
  • leafy green vegetables
  • almonds
  • pulses
  • brown and white bread

Adults need about 700mg of calcium a day, so it’s important that vegans regularly include plenty of these foods in their diet.

The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Fortified margarine and fat spreads, fortified breakfast cereals and egg yolks contain vitamin D. You also get vitamin D when exposed to sunshine.

Examples of iron and calcium in your diet include:

  • 100g of canned red kidney beans contains 2mg of iron
  • an 80g serving of boiled spring greens contains 1.1mg of iron, similar to a 30g portion of raisins
  • a 25g serving of almonds contains about 60mg of calcium
  • a serving of boiled broccoli contains about 28mg of calcium
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread contain around 1.9mg of iron and around 85mg of calcium

Bones get stronger when you use them and the best way to do this is through regular exercise.

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Vegan Protein Sources: Heres Everything You Need To Know

If you have considered going vegan, you might have found yourself asking these questions: How do vegans get protein? How does vegan protein compare to animal-based protein? How much protein do vegans and vegetarians need? Well, this guide for vegan protein sources is for you! You will learn all about the best protein sources for vegans, protein for weight loss, and more.

When I went fully vegetarian over a decade ago , I really had no idea what I was doing. I had flirted with meatless meals for years before that, but it wasnt until a really bad breakup that I settled into my groove.

As you know, while I am a passionate vegetarian, I also understand that everyone is on their own path. I celebrate everyone who comes to this space: those looking to find their happy weight, those needing a quick dinner recipe, and those interested in the idea of vegetarian or vegan living.

Therefore, Im beaming with excitement to introduce you to this new series: How To Vegetarian.

So How Do Vegans Get Protein

Can Vegans get Enough Protein from Their Diet? How to tell ...

Its almost comical. Tell someone you are a vegetarian or vegan and almost immediately, youll hear concern over protein intake. And, while Im quick to laugh it off, I understand why this is the first thing we think about when we consider a plant-based diet.

We are a culture obsessed with protein.

Im not sure who exactly started the protein revolution but, its out there. Even my clients who come to me with very little understanding about nutrition want to know about vegetarian and vegan protein sources.

So, what exactly is this magical macronutrient? Lets start off with a quick reminder of what protein does in the body .

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Do I Need A Special Diet If I Exercise

You don’t need a special diet for exercising if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. The advice about exercising is the same for vegetarians and vegans as it is for non-vegetarians who exercise regularly.

Most vegetarians have enough protein in their diet for the body to grow and repair itself. If you exercise regularly, make sure you eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as rice and pasta for energy, and drink enough fluids when exercising harder.

Read about food for sport and exercise.

Vegan Foods That Are Crazy High In Protein

Have you been told that animal flesh is the only viable source of protein? Lots of us have been but now we know its a lie. Theres protein in just about everything: even a simple bread roll has 11 grams of it. Plus, over half of the calories in the Vegemite on your roll also come from protein! Google it right now. Yep, youd have to eat some kind of weird apples-and-jelly-beans diet to avoid getting enough protein.

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Myth #6 Infants Cannot Get Enough Protein On A Vegan Diet

Im not going to pretend to be an expert on infant nutrition, but I can summarize some research on the topic.

The main concern about a vegan diet for infants and children is that it can stunt growth if theres not enough calories, calcium, and vitamin D in it. Protein is a lesser concern as well.

However, even as far back as 2001, research showed that its feasible:

Therefore, with appropriate food choices, vegan diets can be adequate for children at all ages

Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein

Can Vegans Get Enough Protein? | The Exam Room Podcast
  • The average recommended intake of protein is 42 grams a day.
  • Non-vegetarians eat way more than that , but so does everyone else.
  • Vegetarians and vegans actually average 70 percent more protein than they need every day .

There is so much fuss over protein, even though the studies Dr. Greger cites in the video show that 97 percent of Americans eat enough protein.

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Tips For Increasing Your Protein Consumption

If you dont like the taste of beans or you have trouble digesting them, you will have a harder time getting enough protein as a vegan. Our beans page offers advice about how to prepare beans in ways that maximize digestibility. You may find that tofu, tempeh, and soy-milk easier to digest than other bean-based foods. Alternately, nuts, seeds, and quinoa are all rich in protein, and easily digested.

Protein powders can be a godsend to anyone who cant tolerate beans or nuts. They provide a big dose of protein, in a form thats more digestible than bean-based meals. Most brands of protein powder deliver about 20 grams of lysine-rich protein per serving. Orgain makes an inexpensive all-organic vegan protein powder that sells for half the price of competing brands. Buy a shaker cup and you wont have to dirty a blender each time you prepare a serving.

How Can I Get Enough Iron

Although meat is the best source of iron, other good sources include:

  • pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas
  • nuts
  • dried fruit, such as raisins
  • dark-green vegetables, such as watercress, broccoli and spring greens
  • wholegrains, such as brown rice and brown bread
  • cereals fortified with iron

As long as you remember to regularly include these foods in your diet, you should be getting enough iron.

Adult men need about 8.7mg of iron a day, and women need about 14.8mg a day. Women over 50 years of age need 8.7mg of iron a day.

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Dietary Sources Of Protein And The Essential Amino Acids

The protein content of plant origin foods such as nuts, peas and beans is very high and rivals that of meat and fish. Some vegetarians include eggs and/or dairy products as part of their protein intake. Cheese has similar levels of protein to meat and fish by weight, whilst egg is regarded as the perfect protein food for its ideal balance of amino acids.

Whether dairy products and/or eggs are included in our diet, plant foods provide a major part of protein intake. Pulses, such as quinoa, can form the basis of many types of meals and soya products such as milk, tofu, miso or ready made products like burgers and sausages are probably the most versatile source of protein. Nuts can be incorporated into breakfast and sweet or savoury dishes providing an energy-dense source of protein. QuornTM is a form of myco-protein an edible fungus and is sold in a range of different forms from mince to fillets.

Everyday foods that are normally regarded as carbohydrates such as rice and grains, pasta, breakfast cereals and bread contain significant amounts of protein and can play an important part in your intake. For example, 100g of wholemeal bread contains 9.4g of protein. Potatoes eaten in quantity also provide useful amounts of protein.

Are You Eating Enough High Protein Vegan Meals

Can Kids Get Enough Protein on a Vegan Diet?

November 20, 2020 By Alina Petre, MSc. RD.

High protein vegan meals or recipes are often hard to come by.

Im not sure whether this is because vegans consider protein to be an over-hyped nutrient. Or because they believe that as long as a vegan diet provides enough calories, it will automatically also provide enough protein.

Regardless of the cause, the result remains the same. Despite it being an important nutrient, plant protein is one I often seek lacking in vegan recipes.

So in this article, I thought Id discuss why high protein vegan meals are worth the effort and share some the tips I personally use to boost the plant protein content of my familys vegan meals.

Image by Einladung_zum_Essen

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Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein

Theres no shortage of lists of high-quality vegan protein sources. But as you might expect, theyre often topped by soy products , seitan, and legumes.

My personal favorite vegan foods for protein in rough, descending order of how often I eat them are:

  • Lentils , 18 grams of protein per cup
  • Chickpeas, 12 grams/cup
  • Tempeh , 41 grams per cup
  • Black beans, 15 grams per cup
  • Nuts and nut butters , varied
  • Tofu, 11 grams per 4 ounces
  • Quinoa, 9 grams per cup
  • Other legumes, varied
  • Grains, varied

I often, but not always, add vegan protein powder to my smoothie each morning depending on my fitness goals at the time. My son, for example, is an athlete trying to gain weight on a vegan diet, so he always includes protein in his smoothie.

Smoothies, in general, are a great way to boost protein intake on a plant-based diet, since you can easily add lots of other high-protein ingredients like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almond butter, and even beans .

See my basic smoothie recipe for details on how much of each to add.

Example: How To Calculate Vegan Protein Needs

Lets take a typical No Meat Athlete reader and see what this means for her, lets a say a 140-pound runner. Well split the daily protein range for endurance athletes in the middle and aim for .59 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight:

140 pounds * .59 grams/pound = 83 grams of protein per day

Keep in mind thats for a 140-pound endurance athlete, so youll need to plug in your own weight and, if you do a strength sport, use a different protein figure.

But really, only 83 grams?

All of this protein fuss the incessant inquisition about where we get protein is about 83 grams per day, even after adjusting for being an athlete?

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The Best Vegan Protein Sources

One way to step up your intake is to add rich protein sources to the majority of your meals. Include foods like:

One food that has surprisingly little protein is commercially-made almond milk. This beverage generally contains loads of sugar but very little protein. Soy milk is therefore typically a better choice for people wanting to boost their protein intake. Soy milk contains about six times more protein than almond milk, and its also much higher in lysine.

Why Do We Need Protein

Can Vegans Get Enough Protein? | What about Raw Vegans?

Protein is an essential part of our nutrition, making up about 17% of the bodys weight and it is the main component of our muscles, skin, internal organs, especially the heart and brain, as well as our eyes, hair and nails. Our immune system also requires protein to help make antibodies that are required to help fight infections, and protein also plays a role in blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism and energy function.

Protein foods actually break down into 22 naturally occurring amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of protein. Of these, nine are known as essential amino acids, which means we must get them from food, as the body cannot make them itself. Protein is also a good source of a range of vitamins and minerals such as zinc and B vitamins. As a vegan, its important that all these amino acids are included in the diet to provide optimum nutrition.

The key to getting the right amount of protein, and all the necessary amino acids, is to combine different grains with different vegetables and pulses such as beans and rice, or tofu with broccoli. Variety is key when it comes to being vegan, and not using substitute products such as vegan cheese to make up any deficiency as they are technically a processed food and offer little health benefit.

Read more about how to eat a balanced vegan diet.

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The Dangers Of Animal Protein

It might seem wise to err on the side of getting too much protein. But doing so poses health risks, particularly if youre consuming animal protein: A growing body of research demonstrates a link between animal protein intake and serious health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

A 2018 study of more than 81,000 people found that regular meat consumption was associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of heart disease. High consumption of animal protein was associated with early death in a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Another 2019 study found that white meat is as cholesterol-raising as red meat. In a cohort study published in 2014, high protein intake, especially from animal sources, was associated with elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes.And despite a common assumption that eating more protein can be helpful in achieving weight-loss goals, eating animal protein is actually associated with weight gain.

Animal protein is a major cause of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer,says Michelle McMacken, MD, director of the Adult Weight Management Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in New York City. Contrary to popular perception excess protein does not make us stronger or leaner. Excess protein is stored as fat or turned into waste.

Can Excess Plant Protein Be Dangerous?

How Much Protein Do We Actually Need

When you realize how much protein you actually need per day, the idea of getting enough protein becomes less scary. Youll soon realize you dont have to obsess over consuming massive amounts of protein at every meal because its nearly effortless to meet your protein requirements.

Our protein requirements are way lower than we think.

There are two rules of thumb when it comes to figuring out how much protein you need:

  • Follow the USDA standard: 46g per day for the average woman and 56g per day for the average man
  • Follow the widely known formula: 0.8g per kilogram of healthy body weight

Based on these figures, the average person should aim for 15-20g of protein per meal.

If youre unsure how to get that much protein per meal on a vegan diet, well go over vegan protein sources next.

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Turning Those Ingredients Into High Protein Recipes

If youre not too picky, its easy to toss a few of those ingredients above together and put some sort of basic sauce or peanut butter on them.

But if you have the time and desire to make really good tasting recipes, see my database of high protein vegan recipes to find some great meals to make. Or, I also have a page of over 100 vegan seitan recipes if youd like to filter by things like cooking time and method.

Where Vegans Get Their Iron


Non-vegan sources of iron are usually foods that are high in protein like steak, chicken, and seafood. Similarly, vegan sources of iron are also typically high in protein.

Some of these vegan iron sources include:

  • Lentils
  • Dried fruit
  • Spirulina

Generally, you can get iron from a wide variety of plant foods. Legumes, grains, and seeds are the big ones. Surprisingly, blackstrap molasses is known for being an excellent vegan source of iron.

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