10 protein-rich vegan recipes | VegNews

Current marketing trends put too much emphasis on protein. The fact is that the vast majority of Americans get plenty of this macronutrient, regardless of what diet they follow. However, there are situations that may require certain people to pay a little more attention to their protein intake. Athletes need more protein than those who lead sedentary lifestyles: about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight compared to the average of 0.8 grams/kilogram. Other conditions or health goals can also increase a person’s daily protein quota over a period of time. Vegan meals can contain protein just as well as animal-based meals, and these meals can be more varied than adding plant-based protein powder to everything (although that works, too). Here are all the answers to your plant-based protein questions, plus 10 high-protein vegan recipes to hit your macros every day.


Can vegans get enough protein?

Most vegans don’t have to worry about getting enough protein. All whole-grain foods naturally contain protein, so if you eat a mostly whole-food, plant-based diet and consume enough calories for your needs, then there’s no need to crunch any numbers—you’ll get enough protein without thinking. For those who enjoy the quantitative aspect of nutrition, protein requirements are fairly easy to calculate. The USDA Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. To calculate your protein needs, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 and the result is the number of grams of protein you need each day. For example, a 130-pound woman should aim for 46.8 grams of protein per day and a 170-pound man should aim for 61.2 grams of protein per day. Note: This formula is designed for the “average” individual, someone who can exercise occasionally but not at high intensities or most of the week. Those who are more active, who exercise at least four days a week at a moderate to high intensity, should aim for 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Here’s a general guideline: To truly optimize performance, a plant-based dietitian can help you tailor your exact protein needs based on your activity level.

Given these average daily protein requirements, between 47 grams and 61 grams, it’s not difficult for vegans to consume enough protein naturally. Let’s say you enjoy a bowl of oatmeal every morning with a tablespoon of nut butter. The soy or pea milk you use to cook the oatmeal contains eight grams of protein. A half cup of oatmeal contains five grams of protein. And the tablespoon of peanut butter will provide an additional four grams of protein. In total, that’s 17 grams of protein for just one morning meal. Throw in lunch, dinner, and snacks, and you’re in the protein comfort zone.

Where to get vegan protein

It bears repeating: all whole grain foods contain some amount of protein. Yes, there are drastic differences in protein content between foods, but technically speaking, there is protein in all foods. In fact, if one only ate 2,000 calories of broccoli every day, he would still get 146 grams of protein. (Please don’t try to eat 2,000 calories worth of broccoli; we use this example just to prove a point.) Vegetables also have protein, and there is no need to rely on animals for their protein content.

Common sources of vegan protein include nuts and seeds, grains, beans and legumes, seitan, plant-based protein powders, soy or pea milk, and plant-based meats. There is a wide variety to choose from, making the vegan diet anything but boring and bland.


High protein vegan food

First, let’s define what high protein means. There is no technical or legal definition for high protein, which is why you’ll see it in virtually any food product, but for our own good, we’re setting the standard at eight grams per individual serving. Why? The dairy industry promotes cow’s milk as a high-protein food, and one cup of cow’s milk (as well as pea or soy milk) contains eight grams of protein. So anyone who argues that eight grams isn’t high protein can argue with the dairy marketing giants.

Plant-based meats have set a new standard for protein-rich plant foods. Conventional vegan burgers and other beef alternatives provide up to 20 grams of protein, and plant-based butchers are outperforming store-bought options with protein counts in the high 20s. For example, The Very Good Butcher’s Ribz boasts a whopping 27 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. At just 150 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, this nutritional profile is unmatched when compared to beef or pork ribs, which have over 230 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 18 grams of protein.


Vegan protein powder can also offer a significant protein boost. Most brands range from 18 grams to 30 grams of protein per serving. In a pinch, adding a scoop to a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal can virtually guarantee you hit your protein quota.

Whole plant-based protein sources include tofu, quinoa, lentils, soy and pea milk, and peanut butter. Yes, while other nut butters contain moderate amounts of protein, old-school peanut butter reigns supreme with this macronutrient.

10 vegan recipes rich in protein


1 Protein-Rich Vegan Quinoa and Hemp Tabouli

Combine a protein-rich grain like quinoa with an equally robust seed like hemp and you have a protein-packed grain and herb salad like tabouli. Serve this over warm pita bread or spoon it over a Mediterranean-inspired Buddha bowl for added texture, flavor, and nutrition.
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two Vegan & Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

Dessert shouldn’t be the meal you rely on to reach your protein goals, but a high-protein treat doesn’t hurt. These chocolate brownies provide a moderate amount of protein by incorporating not only black beans, but also quinoa flour and a healthy dose of chia seeds and walnuts. Wash one down with a glass of cold soymilk and your modest dessert contains the protein equivalent of a small meal.
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VegNews.CharSiuTofuJeeca oops

3 Vegan Sticky Sweet Char-Siu Tofu

The protein content of tofu varies depending on the variety of tofu: silken tofu weighs around four grams, while extra firm tofu is around nine grams. Choose a high-protein tofu, such as Wildwood, and you’ll consume more than 14 grams per serving. The point is that tofu is naturally high in protein, but sometimes we crave a preparation outside of our daily scramble or fryer technique. These slabs of seared tofu are bold in flavor and high in protein. Go ahead, have seconds.
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VegNews.ProteinSmoothieBowlJackie Sobon

4 Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl

Very active? Dilute this protein-rich smoothie bowl of banana, chocolate plant protein powder, and creamy peanut butter with a little more soy or pea milk for a sippable breakfast or post-workout pick-me-up. No matter how you take it, the protein count will be in the double digits.
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5 Vegan Protein Pancakes with Spinach and Chia

Sweet and healthy enough for breakfast, this morning staple relies on spinach and chia seeds to provide a powerful protein boost. You don’t like chia? Use vegan mini chocolate chips instead or add a sprinkle of your favorite plant-based vanilla protein powder to your batter.
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VegNews.SnickerdoodleBitesCarina Skrobecki Photography

6 Two-Step Vegan Snickerdoodle Energy Bites

These easy, healthy, cookie-inspired energy snacks are made with almond butter for a high-protein, slightly sweet, and nutty snack perfect for busy days. Enjoy on long walks, summer beach days, or between Target runs.
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VegNews.BeefyTempehIsa Chandra Moskowitz

7 Vegan tempeh with beef and broccoli

While we wait for chains like Panda Express to provide a plant-based beef and broccoli option, this meaty version of tempeh will do just fine. Tempeh is a long-standing vegan protein source made from fermented soybeans. A three-ounce serving clocks in at 18 grams of protein. Combine that with a hefty serving of broccoli and you’ve got a high-protein meal that will also take away your craving for takeout.
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VegNews.PumpkinSagePastaamy angel

8 Vegan Pumpkin Sage Pasta with Blackened Tempeh

Yes, tempeh provides a solid amount of plant-based protein, but to really kick up the nutrition, choose a bean-based pasta like Banza. A sensible two-ounce serving packs an impressive 11 grams of protein thanks to the chickpea flour base. Think of this comfort food as a grown-up version of mac and cheese with hot dog slices.
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VegNews.SweetPotatoChili.jpgHanna Kaminski

9Vegan Sweet Potato Chili

After you’ve been vegan for a while, you’ll realize that the main course doesn’t have to provide most of your protein. Side dishes can be more than enough to provide essential nutrients and satiety. Pair these savory, slightly sweet and meaty baked beans with steamed cabbage and blackened corn on the cob for a tempting meal made with the best sides.
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VegNews.Seitan PozoleTerry Hope Romero

10 Vegan White Beans & Green Pozole

Seitan replaces traditional animal products in this belly-warming pozole. Meaty bits made from vital wheat gluten provide the necessary texture and chew to this hearty stew plus 18 grams of protein. Combine that with a can of creamy, high-protein navy beans, and this soup is eaten as a meal.
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For more information on vegan nutrition, read:
How to Get Calcium on a Vegan Diet
How to get iron on a vegan diet
I Tried Plant-Based Whole30 and Here’s What Happened

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