Proteins are the machine of life – literally. An adequate protein intake is essential for any balanced diet, and increasing your protein intake has a multitude of benefits. However, it may seem difficult to prioritize protein eating plant-based or as a vegan. We’re here to tell you that it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems. In fact, it’s as easy as 1-2-3, or, in this case, 1-2-3-4-5. Read on for our 5 tips for prioritizing protein while eating plant-based.
Why is Protein Important?
We’ve all heard about the importance of protein, but why is it so important? Put simply, every cell in your body contains protein. Protein is key in processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen throughout your blood. You NEED protein! We all do. And if we’re talking numbers, women need about 50 grams of protein per day, and men need about 60.
But why should we pay closer attention to our protein intake? The reasons are endless. High protein diets are great for bone development, metabolic function, and are even linked to lowering blood pressure and enhancing glycemic regulation.
A study concluded that, of those Americans not meeting their protein intake, one third were up to a whopping 30 grams of protein short per day. So, let’s take this opportunity to reflect on our diets, our patterns, and our lifestyles so that we can all lead healthier and happier lives.
Busting the Myth: Plant-Based Protein
“You can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet.”
Wrong! This may be one of the most common and popular myths about eating plant-based. And it’s entirely untrue. Today, we’re going to bust this myth and share our favorite tips for prioritizing protein for any consumer.
In fact, The American Dietetic Association agrees that well-planned diets that limit or exclude animal products are healthy and nutritionally as adequate as those that don’t. Moreover, plant-based diets are also associated with lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
According to a survey conducted by BBC Radio, the most common reasons people adopt a vegan lifestyle are animal cruelty, sustainability, and overall health. So, you certainly don’t have to compromise your values for nutritional benefits. The two can – and absolutely should – exist in harmony.
Knowing the Six Types of Plant-Based Protein
Knowing that the Recommended Daily Allowance for protein for most people is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of healthy body weight, let’s focus on the 6 major types of plant-based protein. Knowledge is power, and, with that power, you can unlock a wide range of new meals and culinary experiences. Also, please note that very active adults or those trying to gain muscle mass will require more protein – and that’s possible while eating plant-based, too!
- Soy-based plant protein. This includes food like tempeh and tofu. Looking for a hearty, high protein lunch? Look no further than this vegan tempeh burrito bowl recipe! Dinner’s up and we’re recommending this sticky sesame tofu, with an incredible 34 grams of protein.
- Bean- or legume-based plant protein. This one has got to be our favorite. From bean burgers to lentils and chickpeas, the possibilities are endless. Check out this recipe for vegan and gluten free jalapeño black bean burgers!
- Pea protein-based. Have you heard about pea protein? You can actually use it to create your own protein powder (keep reading for some new and creative uses for protein powder). Here’s a recipe to make your own at home.
- Grain-based plant protein. This category includes foods like Ezekiel bread, whole wheat flour, and seitan. But we think the superstar is teff. It’s an Ancient Ethiopian grain and one of the most nutritious on Earth. We haven’t tapped into breakfast just yet, so check out this recipe for a teff grain marathon breakfast bowl.
- Nut- and seed-based plant protein. Oh, the options! And who doesn’t love pudding? For this category, try out this high protein chia seed pudding recipe. It’s a delicious and nutritious choice for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert. Don’t forget to dress it up with your favorite toppings.
- Veggie-based plant protein. We all know that “gorgeous gorgeous girls” (and guys!) eat their veggies. They also get their protein in. Check out this super simple roasted sweet potato salad with feta and pesto. 25 grams of protein? Yes please!
Power your Day with a Protein-Packed Breakfast
A protein-rich breakfast will help your brain function at its optimal level, while increasing your energy expenditure, and curb the desire to snack all day! And, lucky for us, there are tons of options for high protein, vegan breakfasts. That being said, breakfast is a great opportunity to fulfill a great chunk of your protein intake.
Here’s a link to 11 satisfying and delicious ideas. We’re especially loving the scrambled tofu breakfast burrito, baked oatmeal, and triple berry quinoa breakfast bake. Now those are some great reasons to get up in the morning and jumpstart your day!
When in Doubt, Meal Prep it Out
For a vegan who wants to prioritize protein, meal prepping is your new best friend! It’s already a great resource for those with busy schedules. For those with busy schedules who are on track to meet specific nutrition goals, it’s a lifesaver. Some may say it’s a necessity.
It’s true that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. But, don’t worry! We’ve got your back with this 3-Day High Protein Vegan Meal Prep. This is a great way to ensure that your meals are nutrient-rich, delicious, and, most of all, convenient!
Get Creative with Protein Powder
For anyone looking to prioritize protein, a quality protein powder is a great investment. And, now, it’s never been easier to find delectable plant-based protein powders. We love Orgain’s Organic Plant-Based Protein Powders. They come in a wide array of flavors like Creamy Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt, (Chocolate) Peanut Butter, Vanilla Bean, and even Iced Coffee!
Gone are the days of simply mixing protein powder with water. Now, you can use it to add a boost to nearly any of your favorite meals, sauces, or baked goods. We especially love protein overnight oats, protein pancakes, protein iced coffee, and even salted caramel protein blondies.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless – and delicious! Soon enough, you’ll be a confident, creative cook. In this case, it certainly starts with the powder.
Pack your Lunch Box with High Protein Snacks
Now is the time to learn how to hack your snacks!
Swapping your snacks is a great way to sneak some extra protein into your day. Today, there is such a great variety of healthy, high protein snacks right off the shelves. By replacing a bag of chips with a vegan protein bar, you’re well on your way to prioritizing protein and feeling amazing!
Here’s a list of our top five favorite vegan protein snacks of the year!
- Kodiak Birthday Cake Protein Balls
- Aloha Chocolate Espresso Protein + Caffeine Bar
- Misfits Speculoos Health Bar
- Bobo’s Raspberry Toaster Pastries
- Enjoy Life Mint Chocolate Enjoy Bites
Remember to download our free mobile app and shop with Makeena to save on protein-packed items like these!
Thanks for reading our 5 tips for prioritizing protein while eating plant-based or vegan. It’s definitely something to consider if you are looking for ways to improve your health! It can be a little tricky to reimagine your favorite meals, but with a little creativity you can easily hit your daily protein target. What’s your favorite plant-based protein source?