There’s generally one prime question people have when making the switch to a more plant-based diet: “How do I get enough protein?” The good news is it’s not very hard—at all. Experts say you can get more than enough protein from eating a variety whole, plant-based foods. No animal products needed.
According to Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a New York City-based registered dietitian and the owner of Plant-Based Eats, there are a multitude of high-protein vegan foods you can easily add into your meals. So if you’re struggling with choosing the right options at the grocery store, have no fear: We have her top five picks below.
5 RD-Backed High-Protein Vegan Foods
Edamame are whole, immature soybeans you can often find in the frozen section of the grocery store. They may be small, but they’re definitely mighty when it comes to protein.
“Edamame is an excellent source of plant-based protein. In one cup, you get 19 grams of protein, as well as an excellent amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin C and iron,” says Gorin. “Plus, edamame is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids.”
Gorin likes to add frozen edamame to vanilla smoothies for a boost of protein. “You can add cooked shelled edamame to a stir-fry or pasta dish, too,” she says.
2. Nutritional Yeast
You may have already heard of nutritional yeast for its cheesy flavor that’s used in many plant-based dishes. On top of being the key ingredient in vegan mac and cheese, it’s also packed with protein.
“I love adding nutritional yeast to everything, from pasta to roasted veggies and even popcorn,” Gorin says. “Two tablespoons provide 10 grams of plant protein, and you also get minerals like iron. You will also find nutritional yeast fortified with B vitamins, such as vitamin B12.”
While Bragg is a popular choice (shown above), you can also find nutritional yeast in most bulk sections of the grocery store alongside the nuts and grains. Bring a glass jar and fill it up to keep a waste-free stash in your pantry.
3. Hemp Seeds
When it comes to high-protein vegan foods, hemp seats are super underrated. They’re a quick and easy way to add a boost of protein to a variety of meals.
“They’re another complete protein that include all nine essential amino acids. In three tablespoons of hemp seeds, you get nine grams of protein,” says Gorin. “I like to add them to a salad, energy balls, and as a topping to smoothie bowls.”
While tofu and tempeh are pretty well-known high-protein vegan foods, seitan deserves some attention, too. The meat substitute is primarily made of gluten. You can find it in most grocery stores or make it yourself with these instructions.
“This plant protein has a really nice texture that’s similar to meat. It’s a low-calorie, high-protein vegan protein source,” says Gorin. “Per two ounces, you get 15 grams of plant-based protein. You also get a good amount of iron—a nutrient people following a plant-based diet need to be especially mindful of.”
Chickpeas are a pretty common ingredient in many plant-based dishes, from curries to sandwiches. They’re not only protein-packed, but also a great source of fiber and other nutrients, like iron and manganese.
“These are one of my favorite plant proteins. In a cup of cooked chickpeas, you get 15 grams of plant protein,” Gorin says. “I really like to make crunchy roasted chickpeas. Chickpeas are also great in a salad or added to pasta.”
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