Whether you're trying to lessen your carbon footprint by eating less animal-based products or you want to eat healthier, plant-based proteins are abundant and have amazing benefits to the body.
I have been vegan for almost 2 years (that went by quick!) and my acne-prone skin has cleared up, I get to eat more filling, satisfying foods, while simultaneously reducing my carbon footprint (do you know how much water it takes to make 1 pound of beef?!).
“It takes 441 gallons of water to produce one pound of boneless beef—or about 110 gallons for a quarter-pound hamburger.” – UC Davis Study
Although I did go vegan for animal cruelty reasons (my dog was actually the reason why I went vegan – long story), it has had amazing effects on my entire body.
I do believe veganism has progressed in ways many of us didn't think as imaginable. Since going vegan, I've had many friends and family transition for either health, the environment, or for their love of animals.
You'd think to live in a small town in Texas there would be no vegan options available, but almost all of the restaurants in the area have at least one vegan option, and we even have 100% vegan restaurants in town. We also have a 100% vegan fast food joint opening up here!
We actually spend the exact same (or a little less) on our food than when we were eating meat and dairy. I also use Ibotta to save money on produce. You can get $10 in your account for signing up with my link here.
The reality of the animal agriculture industry:
Animals and meat will always be around, but we cannot live sustainable with our current practices. The world is suffering, our animals are suffering, and in many ways, humans are suffering. Our kids and their kids will be the ones suffering the consequences.
Therefore, I encourage incorporating plant-based foods into your diet. As a vegan, we often get asked where we get our protein. Luckily, protein is found in so many foods that are also filled with minerals, vitamins, and other amazing components that benefit the body. Also, by eating plant-based proteins, you're also filling up on fiber and meat has zero of that and also has a ton of cholesterol.
How much protein do I need?
The recommended intake is 0.36 grams per pound.
So for me, I'd want about 45 grams of protein a day. However, that amount can change depending on many factors (exercise, age, goals, etc.).
Since I am active, my protein intake is double that, around 90 grams a day.
A good rule to follow is multiplying grams by how active you are.
Sedentary – lbs x .4
Active – lbs x .6
Very active – lbs x .75
If you aren't sure what to eat on a plant-based diet and want to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, you can check out the Lean and Clean ebooks that are packed with helpful information as well as a 14-day meal plan. You also get access to a private FB group where you can talk with actual people who have totally transformed their lives because of the meal plans.
Below are 15 plant-based proteins to incorporate into your diet.
There are several different plant-based protein options available. You can use milk in oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, and many other meals to provide both a filling and satisfying meal. A few different plant-based milk options include soy milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, almond milk, and rice milk.
Protein: Ranges between 1 g – 8 g per cup
- Often has more calcium
- Lower in calories
- Easily digestible
- Free from hormones
Potatoes are some of the cheapest foods out there. When eating potatoes, you want to make sure you aren't eating fries or baked potatoes covered in oil and cheese. Potatoes are one of the healthiest foods in the world, but they're often made in a way where the potato is drowning in excess oil and dairy.
Protein: 4 g in 1 medium white potato
- Loaded with vitamin b6, potassium, copper, vitamin c, and more
- Good source of fiber
- Great for bone health
- Helps control blood sugar
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3. Black Beans
Black beans and any other bean for that matter are a great addition to many meals. Add them to soups, salads, rice bowls, or burritos for a healthy, filling, and protein-packed meal.
Protein: 7.6 g per ½-cup serving
- Aids in maintaining healthy bones
- Low in sodium (get the no salt added can or cook your own beans at home)
- Assists in promoting regularity
- Packed with protein
Lentils are packed with protein and fiber per serving. Not only that, lentils are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to run healthily. Some of these vitamins and minerals include manganese, phosphorus, copper, thiamine, and tons more.
Protein: 9 g per ½-cup serving
- Great source of fiber
- Very low saturated fat and no cholesterol
- High in folate (supports metabolism)
- High in iron (produces red blood cells)
Edamame is a great appetizer to have when you're at a sushi bar or at home and wanting to fill up on some protein and fiber. They're low calorie, super filling (seriously, 18 grams per 1 cup!), and they have no cholesterol.
Protein: 18 g per 1-cup serving
- High in iron and calcium
- Aids in energy levels
- Provides all essential amino acids
- Aids in lowering cholesterol
6. Vegan Protein Powder
I easily get my recommended protein intake with my daily breakfast smoothie using Garden of Life's chocolate protein. It's loaded with 20 grams and 6 grams of fiber per scoop.
- aids in post workout recovery
- protein with 44 superfoods included
- includes various vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
7. Peanut Butter or peanuts
Nuts are high in protein and are a healthy and nutritious source of fat. They're also delicious. 'nuff said.
Protein: 7 g per ¼-cup serving
- Packed with antioxidants
- Can aid in lowering cholesterol
- High in fiber
- Aids in lowering inflammation
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Oats are packed with vitamins and minerals. Instead of giving your kid cereal every morning, feed them a yummy bowl of oatmeal instead. Sprinkle some seeds, stevia, almond milk, and a sliced up banana.
Protein: 5 g in ¼-cup serving (dry)
- Rich in antioxidants
- Filling and satisfying
- Keeps digestive flowing properly
- Aid in blood sugar control
Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods out there as they contain all essential amino acids and are packed with vitamins and minerals. They're also delicious in burritos, salads, and soups!
Protein: 8 g in 1/2 cup cooked
- Really high in fiber
- Aids in controlling blood sugar levels
- High in minerals
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10. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is seriously one of the tastiest foods out there. It has a delicious cheesy flavor without all nasty parts of cheese. Side tip, I also sprinkle nutritional yeast over dog food to give my dogs extra vitamins and minerals!
Protein: 12 g in 3 tablespoons
- Great source of b12 and folic acid
- High in fiber
- Aids in digestion
- Contains antibacterial properties
Tempeh is one of my new favorite foods because of how tasty it is in sandwiches and stir fry's. It's an excellent source of protein, and although I'm still figuring out how to cook it, I always get it whenever a restaurant offers it.
Protein: 16 g per 3 oz serving
- Complete protein
- Low in fat
- Contains probiotics
- Incredibly high in protein
12. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals that make it a great addition to any smoothie bowl or shake.
Protein: 6 g per 2 Tbsp
- Contains Omega 3 fatty acids
- Great source of fiber, iron, and calcium
- Raises HDL (good cholesterol)
- High in bone nutrients
Tofu is great for any kind of meal you're preparing. There are several different textures of tofu and the texture used should be used in certain meals. For example, if you're trying to add protein to your smoothie, you would throw in silken (soft) tofu. For vegan “eggs”, you'd use extra firm crumbled tofu.
I always buy extra firm tofu for my stir fries and silken tofu for smoothies. Also, tofu has mixed reviews on whether it is healthy or not, but keep in mind that people in Asia have been eating tofu since 950 AD and they are known as the healthiest people in the world. My grandma is almost 100 and has been eating tofu regularly. Make sure to always purchase organic tofu.
Protein: 8 to 15 g per 3 oz serving
- Contains all essential amino acids
- High in iron and calcium
- Linked to reduce cancers
- Can improve skin elasticity
Broccoli is a food rich in nutrients. You might think you don't like broccoli, but you simply need to learn how to season it properly. I love sprinkling nutritional yeast or liquid amino acids on my broccoli.
Protein: 2 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
- High in dietary fiber
- Cancer-fighting properties
- Aids in bone health and digestion
Avocados are incredibly nutritious and not only, they're delicious and can be prepared with a variety of meals. Avocados are great on sandwiches, smoothies, salads, burritos, and even by itself.
Protein: 2 g per ½ avocado
- Rich in vitamin k, folate, vitamin c, and many other vitamins
- Loaded with potassium and fiber
- Can lower cholesterol
- May aid in preventing cancer
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As you can see, there is a huge variety of plant-based proteins that you're most likely already eating. Eating more of these types of foods can be beneficial to the body as well as reduce your carbon footprint. If you're interested in learning more about veganism and the positive effects it has, I recommend watching Cowspiracy and What The Health. They're both on Netflix. A couple of my favorite plant-based recipe books are, “But I Could Never Go Vegan“, and “Thug Kitchen“.
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