Am I Getting Enough Protein? What are the Best Sources?

Plant Based Proteins - A Plant-Based Revolution

If you don’t know where you get your protein while following a plant-food-based diet, you’re in good company.  The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, scientists from the Human Nutrition Research Center and Medical School at Tufts University, and registered dietitians, research nutritionists and physicians of Northwestern University, and the Harvard School of Public Health are just a few examples of “experts” you look to for advice who have the protein story wrong.

Eating protein doesn’t have to mean eating meat, and there’s growing evidence that replacing animal proteins with more plant-based proteins can benefit your health. These (mostly) vegetarian foods are high in protein and heart-healthy too.

Maybe you’ve heard of the EAT-Lancet Commission Report that outlines a healthy-people, healthy-planet eating pattern. This report, which was developed by 37 scientists and released in early 2019, found that the best diet for both people and the planet includes a variety of plant-based foods, is low in animal proteins, favors unsaturated over saturated fats, and limits refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.

Evidence suggests this pattern of eating is linked with a longer life expectancy, and just as importantly, a quality of life that includes a healthier body and mind.

Eating more plant-based foods can do your body (and the planet) a world of good. Past studies show this eating pattern may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes; promote a slimmer waistline and healthier body weight; provide higher levels of important nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, and fiber. It also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress that can promote cell damage. This cell damage accelerates aging and can lead to chronic diseases. It also promotes a sharper mind with fewer memory problems over time.

Is it possible to get enough protein if you don’t eat meat?

“It’s absolutely possible to meet protein and other nutrient needs without meat. From a young age, we’re taught that our bodies need meat. In reality, our bodies need key nutrients that we can obtain adequate amounts from plant-based foods. These are the same key nutrients that are found in meat.

What are some easy ways to incorporate plant proteins into your menu?

Consider using hummus in place of cheese in a quesadilla. Try tempeh or tofu instead of meat in a stir-fry, and enjoy beans or lentils instead of meat in a chili or taco filling. I personally love using hummus and incorporate beans, and lentils as a substitute. Speaking of meat substitutes, did you know that bulgur wheat is another great option to substitute for meat. It has a meat texture and perfect as a replacement. I use it in my sloppy joes, chili, stuffed peppers, even in a breakfast tofu scramble.

Beans and lentils pack a nutritional punch, with meaningful levels of important minerals, like potassium, magnesium, folate and iron. These are often in short supply in our diets. Though you can buy them dried, canned beans make eating these foods really easy. Buying canned speeds up cooking in your Instant Pot. One of the beauties of plant proteins, like canned beans, is that you don’t have to do much prep. Making a plant-based lunch or dinner can often be much faster than waiting for takeout to arrive,

Love Hummus? For instance, 1 cup of canned chickpeas has about 11 grams of protein, while a cup of lentils has closer to 18 grams. A cup of black beans clocks in at 14 grams of protein. There are so many ways to enjoy these foods, but some of the easiest are:

  • On top of salads or veggie-grain bowls
  • Folded into tacos or quesadillas
  • As the base of vegetarian burgers
  • Blended into snack-size energy balls or roasted into munchable snacks

No matter what substitute you choose for your protein-packed meal, you will always come out ahead. Below is a great chart showing that shows how much protein you can get. Be sure to check out my recipes for:

Plant-Based Protein Chart - A Plant-Based Revolution
Plant-Based/Vegan Protein Chart

Michele Wallace

Entrepreneur and author of A Plant-Based Michele has also earned her Plant-Based Nutrition Certification from eCornell University. The book is an easy and complete guide for those wanting to get healthy and offers step-by-step instructions, including over 85 delicious and healthy recipes.
A Plant-Based Revolution is dedicated to whole food plant-based nutrition.

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