Tips to Help You Get Enough Protein with a Vegan Diet
Deciding to make the change to vegan can be tough if you're used to your favorite meaty meals. You might panic and think you'll never be able to get enough protein during the day or during your daily workouts. This is common with anyone who eats a high animal-based protein diet, but don't worry, you will have tons of tasty options!
Going vegan is easier than you might think with these fast and easy tips that can help you eat healthy and get enough protein. It's just a matter of substation and looking for foods that you know will help you meet your daily requirement. So let's get started…
Vegan Protein Diet Tips
Add up the protein
For starters, getting protein is easy. While eating animal-based protein you probably met your daily requirement with egg whites and chicken or tuna, but you can actually meet your daily protein requirement without animal protein and you might even find the recipe substitutions easier to make and they're healthier, too. You don't have to worry about too many eggs raising your cholesterol and you don't have to worry about meat affecting your colon or red meat not being heart healthy.
Depending on your body weight, you want to divide that by 2 or 2.2 depending on the site you reference, and this should give you an idea of how many grams of protein you need every day. For the average person that weighs about 140 lbs, getting 70 to 72 grams of protein might sound hard if you've never done it before. On the contrary, it's actually relatively easy as there is a lot of protein in plant-based foods, as well as in nuts, seeds and fruit. So let's explore a few fast ways you can get your protein.
Make a filling pot of chili
Try having a soup or stew loaded with 3-4 different kinds of beans and brown rice and you will find that this gives you about 20 gm of protein. Homemade chili is easy with black beans, kidney beans and Progress soup with lentil beans or use fresh lentil beans. Mix in a jar of spaghetti sauce and two jars of water, let it simmer and add onions, peppers and corn, and you've got a big pot of chili that's filling and vitamin rich. Loaded with fiber, it's also heart healthy and you can freeze the leftovers.
Try your hand at veggie lasagna
Make homemade vegetarian lasagna with wheat pasta, kale and tofu. You'll find when you add your ingredients that each serving should be about 20 gm of protein. It's easy to make if you want to put it in the oven or the slow cooker. Just use tomato sauce, cooked tofu, kale and other veggie ingredients if you would like to add broccoli and/or cauliflower. The tofu if you use the extra firm version will taste like ricotta cheese and you can season your lasagna with garlic powder and oregano. Healthy and a filling meal, you can freeze your leftovers and take out a little at a time.
Try a meatless dinner
Worried that you might miss your fried chicken, burgers or beef stew and spaghetti with meatballs? Make the meatless versions! Gardein is a company that's been making a lot of great and tasty meatless treats. Organic and made from vegetables and beans, they're good for you and tasty, too! Gardein chicken tenders, if you have 5 of them only come out to about 100 calories and they're loaded with protein.
Buy Gardein meatless foods and you'll find that each serving can give you up to 10-20 gm of protein each. Meatless foods include Beefless Tips that you can use in beef stew or spaghetti with meatballs, Fishless Fish for your favorite fish and chips dish, and Chicken Tenders that you can bake or lightly fry. They are all made of soy, wheat casein, brown rice, carrots, celery and other natural products. While filing and easy to make, they can help you quickly reach your daily protein intake.
Keep healthy snacks handy
Keep nuts and soy protein handy. A handful of walnuts which are rich in flavanoids, can give you a few grams of protein. You can also eat a handful of pecans or peanuts. Just watch the cashews. While a favorite for their unique taste, they're also high in fat. Sunflower seeds are also an easy way to get an extra 5 to 7 gm of protein and you can throw your sunflower seeds into a salad or make your own crackers or bread!
Get your grains
Next, don't shy away from wheat bread and peanut butter. One of the hardest things that people have found with taking on a vegetarian diet is seeing bread as their friend. That's because when you are eating animal protein, you may be under the assumption that you should avoid bread which can make you bloated or give you wheat belly. In all actuality, wheat bread is a good source of grain and on a vegan diet you will need about 8 servings of grains each day. You can also get grain from rice, pasta, cereal, chia seeds and other tasty treats!
All of these are healthy snacks that when used moderately throughout the day can help you round out your daily protein intake. You can have soy yogurt for breakfast with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed in, a mid morning snack of a handful of nuts, and a late snack of a slice of wheat bread with peanut butter or hummus. Don't be afraid to get inventive and you'll find that when you're hungry you have so many great options available to you. Yum!
Drink your protein
If you're on the go, you can get protein shakes, chai teas with protein, green drinks loaded with health fruits and veggies and other types of shakes. The benefit with drinking your protein is that it helps if you're traveling and have no time to prepare your foods to reach your protein goals. Also consider soy whey protein for your shakes, but confirm with your medical professional that you can have this.
Eating in between workouts
If you are a body builder and you're looking for great recipes to help you, be sure to look up recipes online. There are tons of great recipes for chickpea wraps with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes and brown rice for example. If you're unsure about how to prep your food, check out the Thug Kitchen recipe book or do a Google search for it. You can make your own veggie burgers loaded with rice and beans that will give you the balance you need in and out of the gym to sustain you in between workouts.
As you can tell from the various recipes and tips, there are a ton of great ways to get protein when you go vegan. It's just a matter of knowing that you will have tasty options so you don't panic and think you won't have enough to eat. That's why we recommended the Gardein products so if you feel like you need to still have a burger, it can be a veggie burger loaded with beans, rice, carrots and celery, and your chicken can be soy. That That brings us to our last point, keep a journal and map out your options until you get in the habit of reaching your daily protein intake. By considering your proteins sources early, this can help you plan out your day and reach your goals! Happy eating!