One of the most common worries about adopting a vegan diet is consuming enough protein. Without animal foods, the food choices with enough protein may seem limited. That's especially true if you want to keep to a natural, whole food diet. But there are a surprising number of vegan foods that are full of protein and need little preparation.
While protein is a big focus on most American dinner tables, you actually only need to consume about one calorie from protein sources for every 10 calories. The recommended daily allowance for protein is about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you weigh 120 pounds, for example, multiply 120 by 0.36. That means you should eat about 43 grams of protein each day. You may need more protein if you have an active lifestyle.
Try these vegan foods loaded with protein:
- Quinoa: A complete protein seed, quinoa has 8 grams of protein per 1 cup of cooked quinoa. It's also a great source of iron, fiber, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of manganese.
- Pumpkin Seeds: These tasty toasted seeds, also known as pepitas, have 7 grams of protein per ounce. Toss the toasted seeds with a little pumpkin pie spice for extra deliciousness.
- Peas: A 4-ounce serving of green peas has a surprising amount of protein--8 grams! You can get the same amount of protein in 4 ounces of navy beans and black-eyed peas.
- Flax seeds: A serious protein powerhouse that's available in most supermarkets these days, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds has 4 grams of protein.
- Hemp seeds: Hemp seeds have about 5.5 grams of protein per tablespoon. Hemp is also the only food that contains the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.
- Pistachios: Pistachios are a little on the pricey side compared to other nuts, but they are worth it since they hold 6 grams of protein in a single ounce. (Check out seven more reasons we love pistachios.) By comparison, cashews have 4 grams per ounce. Roasted almonds have the same amout of protein as pistachios (6 grams), but while pistachios have balanced amino acids, almonds are low in lysine and methionine. Almonds do, however, have monounsaturated fats that have been shown to reduce heart disease.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are not only super high in omega-3 fatty acids, but an ounce of walnuts also has 7 grams of protein and can help lower cholesterol. Walnuts are, however, low in lysine.
- Nut Butters: Peanut butter has 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, cashew butter has 3 grams and almond butter has 2 grams.
- Oats: A single cup of oats has 5 grams of protein.
- Spinach: A single cup of spinach has 8 grams of protein.
- Broccoli: One cup of broccoli spears equals 8 grams of protein.
- BrusselsSprouts: You'll find 6 grams of protein in each cup of Brussels sprouts!
- Dried Beans: Chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans all have about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup. And if you cook your own (from dried beans), you can better control the sodium and eliminate unnecessary additives.
- Lentils: Lentils have even more protein than other popular beans, about 18 grams per cup. Lentils are also a good source of iron, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, folate and manganese.
- Corn: While corn is nutritionally a vegetable, it's actually a whole grain that holds 4.5 grams of protein per cup.
- Avocado: Avocado truly is a wonder fruit. A cup of avocado puree has 5 grams of protein and it's a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K and folate.