Protein is vital to our everyday health. The human body is a finely tuned machine and, if it doesn’t get the right amount of fuel, it starts to shut down. It’s that simple.
That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that your diet includes adequate portions of protein. For a sedentary man, that equates to around 56g per day, whereas a sedentary woman needs 46g per day, according to Healthline. Yet, those numbers soar once you start adding a little exercise into the mix. (You can calculate your recommended daily protein intake here!) So, where should you be getting your protein from?
Sadly, there’s a real misconception surrounding the likes of the plant-based diet. You may have heard rumours that these meals lack the protein your body so desperately needs. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this is one of the most common and harmful myths that need busting sooner rather than later. In actuality, this dietary choice offers a range of rich-in-protein foods that will boost your health as well as tasting great. Here are just 25 to get you started.
Bean and legume-based protein
1. Edamame (protein value per 100g: 11g)
Most commonly found in Japanese cuisine, edamame beans make for a deliciously fresh snack. There are a couple of ways to enjoy these high-protein snacks. Either you can simply serve them with a little flavouring, such as sprinkled with some Aleppo pepper or put them in a salad. The beans often come frozen but can be steamed or boiled in minutes.
2. Black Beans (protein value per 100g: 21g)
We already know that beans are good for your heart among other things, but including black beans in your recipes could give you a real protein boost. So, why not creating a winter-warming black bean chilli or a fresh black bean salad for dinner tonight?
3. Lentils (protein value per 100g: 9g)
Lentils are a staple of the plant-based diet and, what’s more, they are a seriously versatile food too. Spice up your mealtime by making some ever-so-tasty vegan lentil tacos. Or, if you fancy something a tad more wholesome, why not try a vegan lentil loaf? Delicious.
4. Kidney beans (protein value per 100g: 24g)
When you embark on your plant-based journey, make sure you always have some kidney beans in your cupboard. From a rich kidney bean curry to a devilish sweet potato and kidney bean hotpot, there are just so many dishes you can make using this simple ingredient.
5. Pinto Beans (protein value per 100g: 21g)
These small but mighty beans are packed with energy and protein, and so you really mustn’t make the mistake of overlooking them. If you’re craving a burger fix, you can even combine them with some mushrooms to make a naughty but nice veggie burger. A real crowd-pleaser.
6. Quinoa (protein value per 100g: 14.1g)
You’ve likely noticed the undeniable hype surrounding quinoa these days, but there’s a very good reason for it. This food is healthy, affordable, and filled with protein. While the classic way to enjoy this seed is in a fresh quinoa bowl, there’s a whole lot more you can do with it too. You could even experiment with some quinoa burgers for a tasty treat!
7. Hemp Seeds (protein value per 100g: 31.56g)
Not only are hemp seeds the ultimate superfood, but they’re also an excellent protein source for people living the plant-based lifestyle. Check out how you can use these seeds in your everyday dishes right here.
8. Pumpkin seeds (protein value per 100g: 19g)
When you need a quick and easy snack, you can’t go far wrong with some pumpkin seeds. You could even roast these seeds at home and add whatever flavouring you please for a pocket-friendly treat. What could be better?
9. Sunflower seeds (protein value per 100g: 21g)
You should never underestimate the power of sunflower seeds. These teeny-tiny things can be made into a quick and easy pasta sauce. Oh, and if you’re still getting cheese cravings, you can use the seeds to make a too-good-to-be-true vegan cheese.
10. Flaxseed (protein value per 100g: 18g)
Flaxseed can be a great source of protein and you can make a whole lot of things from this handy little ingredient. From flaxseed crackers to some paleo tortillas, there’s no end to what you can do with this great seed.
11. Whole grain bread (bread protein value per 100g: 13g)
Still eating white bread? Come on. You’re making a serious mistake! Switching to whole grain alternatives is a smart, health-savvy move. Plus, if you’re feeling extra energetic, you can even make your own whole wheat bread in no time.
12. Buckwheat (protein value per 100g: 13g)
Next up, here’s yet another plant-based staple that you should be familiar with by now. Buckwheat goes well in the likes of a stir fry or could make the foundation for your next Friday night curry. Go ahead and give it a whirl.
13. Rolled oats (protein value per 100g: 13.15g)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so let’s make sure that you get it right. Whether you plan ahead and make some vegan overnight oats or just opt for an easy vegan oatmeal dish, oat-based meals are packed with energy and protein.
14. Wild rice (protein value per 100g: 15g)
Wild rice could be the base of your next uber healthy meal! This protein-packed grain makes a great pilaf and it shouldn’t take you long to knock one up. There are loads of options from which to choose. From something basic like an easy wild rice pilaf to more adventurous options such as a mushroom pilaf or butternut squash pilaf.
15. Couscous (protein value per 100g: 3.8g)
Not only is it a fun word to say (seriously, try it!), but couscous is also a delectable grain-based staple. Creating a vegan couscous salad with a side of salsa could not be easier to master. This dish makes a great weeknight meal too.
16. Peanuts (protein value per 100g: 26g)
Peanuts, or Monkey nuts as some people prefer, are not only a classic bar snack, but also a protein-filled treat too. Why not try making your own vegan peanut butter at home? You seriously won’t regret it when you’re having it on toast later!
17. Almonds (protein value per 100g: 21g)
Now, you could carry a bag of almonds around with you for a healthy, handy snack, but there’s something even better that you can do with these nuts! Whipping up some vegan almond cheese is far easier than you may imagine and it tastes out of this world.
18. Pistachios (protein value per 100g: 20g)
Looking for a guilt-free pudding? You may just have found it. A healthy raw pistachio pudding could be the answer. And if that fails to tickle your taste buds, why not opt for a vegan pistachio ice cream instead.
19. Cashew nuts (protein value per 100g: 18g)
As you probably already know, cashew nuts make genius additions to salads and the like. However, if you want to try something a little different, why not make a cashew sauce from scratch? It takes just five minutes!
20. Brazil nuts (protein value per 100g: 14g)
Whether you need a nice little energy boost or some sneaky protein, Brazil nuts are the way to go. Cooking up a delectable nut roast is sure to make for a flavoursome meal that you’ll want to eat time and time again. Gym-goers will also benefit from some Brazil nut energy balls.
21. Kale (protein value per 100g: 4.3g)
Leafy greens don’t have to be boring, you know? For a cheat day-worthy treat, you could quickly make some vegan kale nachos! If that’s not enough for you, why not give a lentil, kale and quinoa stew a taste instead?
22. Spinach (protein value per 100g: 2.9g)
Boosting your protein intake has never been as easy as simply adding spinach to your meals! If you’re a whiz in the kitchen department, you could even try making some spinach pesto pasta or a Spanish-style chickpea and spinach dish. Yum.
23. Broccoli (protein value per 100g: 2.8g)
Broccoli tends to get a bad rap, especially with fussy eaters. And yet, this small green vegetable is packed full of protein and nutrients. Try a vegan broccoli salad for a healthy meal that you can make in 12 minutes flat. Perfect when you’re short on time.
24. Asparagus (protein value per 100g: 2.2g)
As green as vegetables come, fresh asparagus is a mighty ingredient that we should all be eating more often. Add it to a moreish risotto or just season it with some garlic and lemon for unmistakably tasty results.
25. Watercress (protein value per 100g: 2.3g)
Finally, every plant-based eater should have some watercress in their kitchen. Why not give a smoky chickpea and watercress salad a go for a dazzling light yet tasty dish? Trying something completely new may be just what you need right now.
It’s plain to see that there are plenty of ways to get the protein you need when eating a healthy, plant-based diet. Be sure to keep these handy ingredients in your cupboard so you can knock up a dish with a healthy punch whenever you fancy it! Learn more about starting your plant-based journey right here.