Perhaps you want to go vegan or vegetarian. Maybe that is too far of a jump for you, but you would like to start consuming more plant-based foods while limiting the amount of animal products you consume. Whatever your reasoning is, one of the biggest questions that comes up in eating a high plant-based diet is “where will my protein come from?”
While it is true that animal-based protein is easier for your body to digest, it is still possible to get all the protein you need from plants as well as other vital nutrients. Research shows vegans and vegetarians consume enough protein even on a solidly plant-based diet which means you can too if you want to!
A Few Keys
It isn’t hard to find and consume plant-based protein. In fact, protein can be found in all kinds of various plant foods. You just need to pick the right ones in order to get the most nutrition.
Rule number one when eating a heavy plant-based diet is to make sure you get enough calories every day so your body can use the protein you eat for building, structure and other body functions rather than just energy. That may mean actually eating a little more protein than you typically would need in a day so the allocations are correct.
The second rule to follow is pack up on legumes. They are rich in the amino acid lysine which is typically limited in other plant foods. Legumes are also a good source of fiber which will keep you full longer as well as being budget friendly.
Best Plant Proteins
Soy Products. These tend to be the richest source of protein in a plant-based diet. This can be anything from tofu, edamame beans and tempeh. Soy products are also a good source of calcium and iron which can pick up the slack if you are also not using any dairy products.
Various beans/legumes. Lentils and chickpeas are particularly great choices because of their density and ability to fill you up. They are also very versatile and can be used in many ways and dishes. When you eat these plant-based proteins you will also be adding a punch of fiber, iron and potassium.
Nuts. Peanuts, almonds, etc are another great plant-based protein option. They tend to be full of healthy fats and vitamin E.
Quinoa and Chia Seeds. Quinoa is a protein-packed grain that is rich in magnesium, iron, fiber and manganese. It is also very versatile in how it can be used and easy on the wallet. Chia seeds are low calorie and very heart-healthy with Omega-3 fatty acids. These little seeds tend to be used more as a topping, but don’t let that fool you, they can definitely add to your daily protein count.
Potatoes and protein-rich veggies. These foods are great in the “get more bang for your buck” category. Yes, they are great sources of protein and yes, you will get a bunch of other nutrients as well such as potassium, vitamin C and iron.