Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a role in how our bodies function. Protein is an important nutrient for growth and good health. Enzymes, hormones, antibodies, collagen (used to build bone, muscle, teeth, and healthy skin) are all made from protein. As long as calorie intake is adequate, it can be easy for those who consume a plant based (vegan/vegetarian) diet to meet protein recommendations.

RDA recommendations for protein range from 0.36-0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or about 15-20% of calories. That’s roughly 48-60 grams of protein per day.

Many of us who consume a plant based diet get tired of this question…Where do you get your protein?

Here are some of the top sources of vegan (plant based) protein:

1. Vegetables- the proper foundation for all diets.
• 1 avocado – 10 grams of protein
• 1 cup of broccoli – 5 grams of protein
• 1 cup of spinach – 5 grams of protein
• 2 cups of cooked kale – 5 grams of protein
• 1 cup of boiled peas – 9 grams of protein
• 1 cup of sweet potato – 5 grams of protein

2. Legumes (also vegetables) specifically, lentils and beans, the foundation of many diets for centuries.
• 1 cup of soybeans – 28 grams (1 cup of tofu -22 grams, 1 cup of tempeh – 30 grams)
• 1 cup of lentils – 18 grams
• 1 cup of refried beans – 15.5 grams
• 1 cup of garbanzo beans (and hummus) – 14.5 grams
• 1 cup of pinto, kidney, black beans – 13-15 grams
• 1 oz. of peanuts – 6.5 grams

3. Nuts and seeds- a staple in most vegetarian and vegan diets.
• 1 oz. of cashews – 4.4 grams
• 1 oz. sesame seeds- 6.5 grams
• ¼ cup (2 oz.) of walnuts – 5 grams
• 1 oz. pistachios – 5.8 grams
• 2 tbsp. almonds – 4 grams
• Nut butters- peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter – 2 tablespoons ~ 8 grams

4. Non-dairy milk – Soy, almond, Hemp, ancient grain (rice milk) coconut, 1 cup gives you approximately 7-9 grams of protein.

5. Grains- Ancient grains, sprouted grains, multi-grains- a major part of the plant based diet.
• 1 cup of cooked Quinoa (versatile and delicious) – 9 grams
• 1 cup of cooked Amaranth (gluten-free/oatmeal alternative) – 9 grams
• 1 cup of cooked brown rice – 5 grams
• 1 cup of cooked oat bran – 7 grams
• 1 cup of cooked bulgur (used like rice in Mediterranean countries) – 6 grams
• ¼ cup of cooked wheat germ – 8 grams

6. Convenience foods- There are vegan protein powders and bars that fill in the gaps on the go.
• Hemp – 30 grams (2 scoops) of hemp powder in your smoothie give you 15 grams of protein.

7. Supplements – spirulina and chlorella are often used by vegans and vegetarians for their rich nutrient content, and protein content.

There are lots of cookbooks and websites with meal plans and inventive recipes, including many on how to make traditional dishes substituted with vegan ingredients.

Whether it’s a long term lifestyle or a short term meal plan for cleansing, eating vegan can be enjoyable and rewarding. As with any diet, it is possible to be an unhealthy vegan. The best nutritional plans, vegan or otherwise, center on raw, fresh, organic vegetables.

Still wondering where I get my protein?


10 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your Protein?

  1. Great information!!! So important to dispel the myths about plant based diets. You are an awesome example and inspiration! Even better to get this advice from an MD.

  2. I am a vegetarian trying to transition to a vegan diet and at the same time have been having a hard time coming up with a diet plan for myself since I started strength training about 6 months ago. I am not doing anything too intense yet, just meeting with my trainer about 2x/week but I want to make sure I am eating right so I am not wasting my efforts. Please let me know if you have any basic advice it would be much appreciated (there aren’t many ppl in CT that can help me with both!).

    1. Jaclyn, the most important thing for you to do is to determine how much protein you are currently consuming and then figure out how much more is need to maintain your muscle mass (while you are training). If you are too familiar with plant-based protein options, or finding difficulty determining how much protein is needed, hire a sports nutritionist to help you with a custom meal plan. You can contact one of my resources: houseoffit@gmail.com

  3. In this article, you said that RDA recommends 48 to 60g protein a day… is that all you consume while lifting and competing? All the articles I’ve read regarding athletes say 0.8 to 1 g per lb of body weight.

    1. Hi Aimee- no this is not specifically for strength training or bodybuilding. Research shows that the AVERAGE trainee looking to build muscle can benefit anywhere from 0.6g to around 1.1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. It all really depends on your goals, genetics, and the rest of your diet, but aiming to hit between those targets should be sufficient for most people. So, what you have read regarding athletes is correct!

  4. This is great. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge, you are an inspiration.

    I have been experimenting with pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan diets for almost 2 years. I really feel my best when I am eating a complete vegan diet, although since I started intense weight training I have struggled with the right meal plans and converted back to pescatarian.

    Recently though, I have decided to transition back to Vegan. And I am looking into competing in a fitness competition next year. I would love to use the competition and my physique to prove that you can be vegan and maintain a healthy, fit body.

    Any advice that you have would be appreciated!


    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog! Training for a competition (regardless of meal plan: vegan, vegetarian, etc.) requires expertise. I highly recommend hiring a coach that is knowledgable in nutrition (that’s what I did).

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