If you are a vegan or vegetarian, inevitably you’ll get the question, “where do you get your protein?!”.
First, let’s talk about how much protein we actually need on a daily basis. I bet it’s a lot less than you think.
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for adult men and women is 0.8 grams of protein for every 2 pounds of body weight. On average, that’s about 46 g of protein per day for women and 56 g for men.
However, these numbers are really geared towards people who are fairly sedentary. For those of us who exercise moderately, we’ll only need to add a few more grams of protein than government recommendation. But if you’re a serious athlete who is trying to build muscle, tone, and/or lose weight, you will need to at least double the RDA depending how intense your training. On average, serious athletes should have about 1 g of protein per pound of their weight. But please consult with your doctor, athletic trainer, and/or nutritionist to find out what your unique protein requirements are to ensure you’re getting enough.
Growing kids and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also have higher protein requirements. Pregnant women need around 75 to 100 g of protein a day and growing kids require about half their body weight in grams.
So now that we have the daily requirements all sorted out, let’s talk getting protein from plant-based sources. I thought the easiest way to illustrate how a vegan or vegetarian gets their protein needs met was to lay out an average day of meals for me.
Breakfast: Oatmeal made with almond milk, sunflower butter, gojis, mulberries, and carrots + spices then topped with blueberries & walnuts and a sprinkle of chia seeds = 13 g protein
Lunch: Mixed greens salad topped with beans, sunflower seeds, avocado and lots of veggies = 20 g protein
Snack: 1/4 cup raw almonds = 7 g protein
Dinner: 1 cup lentils with kale, broccoli, and carrots topped with parsley-tahini sauce = 30 g protein
That comes to a total of 70 g protein for the day without even trying very hard! Of course you can supplement with protein powders, add in some unprocessed soy products or on a cheat day have a Field Roast Vegan Sausage which contains 25 g of protein in 1 link! The protein is derived from vital wheat gluten, which is not for anyone with gluten sensitivities but of all the fake meat products out there Field Roast is my favorite. While it does contain gluten, none of their “meats” contain any kind of crazy additives and preservatives.
For the rest of the vegetarians and vegans out there, take a look at the chart below, add up your average meal and let me know how your protein intake is going!
|Tempeh||Soy||8 oz.||18 g|
|Sprouted Tofu||Soy||6 oz.||20 g|
|Lentils, cooked||Pulse||1 cup||18 g|
|Mung Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||14 g|
|Adzuki Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||17 g|
|Garbanzo Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||14 g|
|Black Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||15 g|
|Black Eyed Peas, cooked||Beans||1 cup||14 g|
|Kidney Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||15 g|
|Pinto Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||15 g|
|Cannelini Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||17 g|
|White Northern Beans, cooked||Beans||1 cup||15 g|
|Brown Rice, cooked||Grains||1 cup||5 g|
|Quinoa, cooked||Grains||1 cup||8 g|
|Amaranth, cooked||Grains||1 cup||7 g|
|Lima Beans, cooked||Vegetables||1 cup||15 g|
|Green Peas, cooked||Vegetables||1 cup||9 g|
|Kale, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||2.5 g|
|Spinach, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||5 g|
|Chard, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||3.3 g|
|Mustard Greens, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||3.6 g|
|Collard Greens, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||5 g|
|Dandelion Greens||Vegetables||1 cup||2.1 g|
|Broccoli, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||2.6 g|
|Brussel Sprouts, steamed||Vegetables||1 cup||4 g|
|Almonds||Nuts||1/4 cup||7 g|
|Walnuts||Nuts||1/4 cup||4.5 g|
|Cashews||Nuts||1/4 cup||4 g|
|Pistachios||Nuts||1/4 cup||6 g|
|Pine Nuts||Nuts||1/4 cup||4 g|
|Pecans||Nuts||1/4 cup||2 g|
|Brazil Nuts||Nuts||1/4 cup||5 g|
|Hazelnuts||Nuts||1/4 cup||5 g|
|Sesame Seeds||Seeds||1/4 cup||7 g|
|Sunflower Seeds||Seeds||1/4 cup||8 g|
|Pumpkin Seeds||Seeds||1/4 cup||7 g|
|Hemp Seeds||Seeds||3 T||11 g|
|Flax Seeds||Seeds||2 T||3.5 g|
|Chia Seeds||Seeds||2 T||6 g|