Protein is an essential part of any diet, regardless of your lifestyle or health goals. Yet, there is still a misconception that vegan diets can be detrimental to health due to a lack of protein.
While that’s not true, it can be difficult to identify which plant protein sources suit your dietary preferences and how to successfully increase your daily protein intake.
So here are the five best ways to optimize protein intake on a vegan or plant-based diet.
1. Focus on vegetable proteins
People usually associate a vegan diet with “low protein” due to the lack of meat and animal products. Yet the reality is that vegans have plenty of protein-rich food choices.
Dramatically increase your protein intake by incorporating a range of gut-friendly plant proteins into your diet. Some protein-rich options include edamame beans, chickpeas, lentils, seitan, nut butters, broccoli, quinoa, and rice.
Although you may need to eat larger meals to achieve a high protein intake, it’s easy to incorporate many high-quality protein sources into one vegan dish.
2. Snack throughout the day
Even though they eat more food, new vegans may still feel hungry. The main reason for this is that they do not diversify their diet enough to cover the nutrients usually found in animal foods.
In fact, science shows that calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are more important when following a vegan diet. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to a lack of satiety.
To avoid this, get into the habit of listening to your hunger cues and snacking throughout the day. Go for seeds and nuts – peanuts are high in protein and healthy fats, cashews are high in zinc, and chia seeds are great for a calcium boost.
3. Incorporate plant protein powder
For a quick protein boost when you’re short on time or on the go, smoothies are the perfect option. Not only are they convenient to prepare, but they’re also easy to bulk up with healthy supplements, such as soy milk, oats, chia seeds, and leafy greens.
For a delicious yet healthy protein boost, we recommend adding a premium vegan protein powder to your smoothies.
For example, Naked Shake’s Chocolate Vegan Protein Powder provides 20g of pea protein in each serving, along with MCT oil to prolong satiety.
Thanks to pea protein, this flavored protein powder also provides a superior amino acid profile to ensure quality nutrition.
4. Don’t be afraid of meat substitutes
In recent years, plant-based meat substitutes have grown in popularity. With many brands offering new food options for vegans, it’s getting even easier to maintain a high-protein, plant-based diet.
While you probably won’t like every veggie burger you come across, try to be more experimental with your diet and explore new vegan options when they’re available.
Meat alternatives are also generally high in protein, fiber and carbohydrates, making them an excellent source of essential nutrients.
5. Be creative with your meals
On a vegan diet, it can be easy to fall into the pattern of eating the same meals without trying to add variations to your diet. While this can make meal prep a little easier, it can also make you hungry and bored with your daily schedule.
In that case, think about your favorite meals and how you can add more protein. Add a scoop of chia seeds and protein powder to your smoothies, add nuts to your salads, and pair whole grains (like brown rice) with meat alternatives.
By adding more variety to your meals, you’re much more likely to cover all of your nutritional bases and meet all of your protein needs.