When eating a plant-based diet you might ask yourself “what are the best plant-based protein sources”? No matter the kind of diet you follow, protein is essential. Protein is a component of every cell in the human body, from your hair to your toenails. What makes protein even more important is the fact that the body does not store it in the way it stores carbohydrates and fat. That means you need a steady intake to meet your needs. The good news: Most foods contain some protein and we don’t need that much of it. Most adult women need about 46 grams of protein a day, on average, and men need about 56 grams.
Check out our favorite protein-packed Wicked meat alternatives here. Have a look at our recipes too. We’re always making vegan food for meat lovers so you’ll find plenty of protein there, including in our Vegan Steak Pie, Grilled Sausages With Peppers And Onions, and Vegan Moroccan Meatballs. Eating this kind of plant-based food gives you all the protein you need to help build muscle, repair tissues, and produce enzymes and hormones so your body functions optimally. Here are some other foods that pack in a lot of plant-based protein.
Soy / Tofu
For those of you seeking complete proteins, you’ll be happy to know that soybeans and other soy foods are complete proteins. That includes tofu, which contains all nine essential amino acids and about 20 grams of protein per cup. Tofu is made from the curds of condensed soy milk (which is just soybeans and water) that are pressed into white blocks. You can saute, fry, scramble, and bake tofu, making it a versatile option for replacing meat and eggs in dishes. Try a tofu scramble for breakfast. Or give our Tofu Stir Fry with cashews and veggies a go for dinner tonight!
Beans / legumes
These staples of plant-based eating are solid sources of protein that have less saturated fat and cholesterol than animal protein. Cooked chickpeas supply about 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup while cooked brown lentils provide about 9 grams per 1/2 cup serving. Beans and legumes are also full of fiber that aids digestion and helps reduce your risk of heart disease. From chickpeas and black beans to lentils and fava beans, there’s a wide world of beans and legumes out there. Enjoy them in everything from dips and spreads to stews and chilis and burger patties. Try our Chocolate Chili Pepper Lentils in tacos. Amazing!
Peas are legumes, and when dried and ground they can be added to lots of foods for a big punch of protein. Just a 1/4 cup of pea protein powder contains 24 grams of protein. In fact, pea protein forms the basis of our Wicked plant-based meats like Jalapeno Burgers, Chorizo Bangers, Wicked Little Brats, and Spiced Amazeballs. Sprinkle some pea protein powder into a smoothie or shake for an extra protein boost. Either way, pea protein claims a formidable spot on the list of top plant-based protein sources.
Nuts are a convenient and healthy source of plant-based protein as well. Peanuts contain about 10 grams of protein per 1/4 cup. Almonds have about 7 grams per 1/4 cup and pistachios 6 grams. Nuts make a quick snack, and you can add them to many dishes to boost your protein intake. Sprinkle slivered almonds onto steamed veggies, top Asian noodles with crushed peanuts, or sprinkle pistachios onto a salad. Toast them first for even more flavor! The nut family also includes one of the secret weapons of plant-based cooking: cashews. They boost your protein intake and make a fantastic creamy Vegan Cheez Sauce. Enjoy nuts at breakfast and dessert, too (think pecans in pancakes or oatmeal, and hazelnuts sprinkled onto vegan ice cream). Try our recipe for plant-based Chocolate Hazelnut Granola!
With 8 grams of quality protein per cup, quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source. Our fellow plant-pushing friend Margaret, over at The Plant Philosophy, has made a satisfying option for protein-packed and fully stacked Cauliflower Quinoa Tabbouleh. Do you cook a lot of rice? Try using quinoa instead for more protein. Or give plant-based tacos a big protein boost with both quinoa and black beans.
Quinoa is one of many whole grains that pack in a fair amount of protein. Farro and brown rice are others. Each of those whole grains supplies about 5 grams of protein in 1 cup cooked. A cup of cooked oats gives you about 6 grams of protein. Like beans, there’s a huge array of whole grains out there. In fact, grains and beans form the basis of many of the world’s cuisines, from India and Mexico to Italy and Japan. Just make sure they’re whole or “brown” for the highest amount of protein.
While it may be classified as a fruit, this favorite boasts an impressive 4 grams of protein per avocado. We all know it makes a great topping on tacos and toast, but did you also know that avocado can hold its own as a meal? Yep, the proof is in this Baked Stuffed Avocado recipe.
There you have it: Plenty of delicious foods to fill your protein needs–and your belly! If you ever get stuck, just remember that most meat mimics like plant-based burgers and sausages are very high in protein. Dig into our Wicked plant-based meats to see just a few of the options!