8 High Protein Low Calorie Vegan Meals
You know you want to eat healthier and get more protein in your diet, but don’t want to pile on the calories. As a vegan, your options can seem limited. Don’t worry, there are plenty of tasty plant-based meals that will fill you up without weighing you down. We’ve rounded up 8 high protein low calorie vegan to keep you satisfied all day. Whether you’re craving breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a snack, we’ve got you covered. These recipes are super easy to make, budget-friendly and packed with good-for-you ingredients. Ready to get cooking? Keep reading for protein-packed vegan meals under 500 calories that will fuel your body and satisfy your taste buds.
1: Black Bean Burgers
Black bean burgers are a perfect high protein low calorie meals. They’re hearty, satisfying, and packed with flavor. Here’s how you can make your own:
Grab a can of black beans, drain and rinse them, then mash them up a bit. You want them mashed but still chunky. Mix in chopped veggies like bell peppers, carrots and corn for extra flavor and nutrition.
Bind it all together with ingredients like rolled oats or quinoa, nut butters like peanut or almond butter, and spices such as cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder. A little maple syrup or agave nectar also helps create a nice texture.
Form the mixture into patties and bake them in the oven at 400 F for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, or pan-fry them in a little oil for a few minutes per side until browned and heated through.
Serve your black bean burgers on buns with your favorite toppings like guacamole, salsa, lettuce and tomato. They’re also delicious in a lettuce wrap or on their own.
These burgers are super satisfying, with nearly 10 grams of protein and under 300 calories each. They’re also budget-friendly, using ingredients you likely already have on hand.
Black bean burgers are a perfect meatless meal for Meatless Mondays or any day of the week. Your whole family, vegan or not, will surely enjoy this delicious and nutritious dish. Why not double the recipe and stock your freezer so you can enjoy these burgers anytime?
2: Lentil Sloppy Joes
Lentil sloppy joes are a delicious vegan alternative to the classic beef version. Lentils provide nearly 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, so you’ll still get your fix.
To make lentil sloppy joes, sauté some diced onion and bell pepper in olive oil until soft. Add a cup of cooked lentils, a cup of tomato sauce, and your favorite spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes.
You can also add extras to boost nutrition like diced carrots, zucchini or spinach. Mix in a tablespoon of maple syrup or molasses for a touch of sweetness. For a kick of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Serve the lentil mixture on whole wheat hamburger buns with your favorite toppings like avocado, lettuce and sprouts. A side of oven-baked french fries or a fresh salad completes the meal.
Lentil sloppy joes are budget-friendly, freezer-friendly and kid-friendly. The flavor grows on you the more you eat it! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
This protein-packed, plant-based dish proves that vegan food can be satisfying and delicious. Your whole family will love this hearty, healthy meal. And the next time you have a potluck or barbecue, lentil sloppy joes are sure to be a hit!
3: Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sandwich
A chickpea “tuna” salad sandwich is a delicious vegan alternative to the classic tuna salad sandwich. Chickpeas provide a healthy dose of plant-based protein to keep you satisfied.
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Just Mayo or Vegenaise)
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 2 tablespoons diced onion (such as red onion)
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bread of your choice for serving (such as whole wheat)
- Mash the chickpeas with a fork, potato masher, or pulse a few times in a food processor. Leave slightly chunky.
- Transfer the mashed chickpeas to a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, celery, onion, relish, lemon juice, dill, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For extra flavor, stir in more relish, lemon juice, or herbs.
- Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
- Spread the chickpea salad on bread, in a pita or on a bed of lettuce. Enjoy!
This protein-packed chickpea “tuna” salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The lemon juice helps prevent oxidation and maintain the bright color. Serve this on bread, in a lettuce cup or on its own. Your taste buds won’t know the difference from the real deal!
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are naturally high in plant-based protein and fiber while being low in calories. Combined with the vegetables and vegan mayonnaise, this sandwich filling provides a balanced mix of nutrients to satisfy any appetite.
4: Vegetable Stir Fry With Tofu
A vegetable stir fry with tofu is a perfect high protein low calorie meals. Tofu provides plant-based protein, while the abundance of veggies add volume, nutrients and flavor without a lot of calories.
For a single serving stir fry, you’ll need:
- 1/2 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen beansprouts
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- Rice or noodles for serving
- Drain the tofu and wrap in paper towels or a clean dish towel. Place a heavy object like a cast iron pan on top to press out excess moisture, at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and broccoli and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots, beansprouts, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger and stir fry until heated through, about 3 more minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup water and the cornstarch and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Cube the pressed tofu and add it to the skillet. Gently stir to combine and heat through, about 3 minutes more.
- Serve the stir fry over rice or noodles. Top with sesame seeds, scallions, chili oil or chopped peanuts if desired.
A vegetable stir fry with tofu provides a balanced mix of nutrients to keep you satisfied for hours. Experiment with different vegetables and spices to make every meal unique. Most of the ingredients can be prepped in advance for an easy, healthy weeknight dinner.
5: Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie
A peanut butter banana protein smoothie is a delicious way to get a boost of energy and nutrition. Packed with protein and healthy fats, this creamy treat will satisfy your hunger without weighing you down.
For a single serving, you’ll need:
- 1 banana, peeled
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (look for natural peanut butter with no added sugar)
- 1 scoop (about 30 grams) vanilla protein powder
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of your choice
- Optional: 1 tablespoon honey (for extra sweetness), 1/2 cup ice (for a frostier smoothie)
- Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Taste and add a bit of honey if desired. Blend again briefly to combine.
- Pour into glasses and enjoy! This smoothie is best served immediately.
This protein-packed smoothie provides healthy fats, natural sugars, and a good dose of plant-based protein to keep you satisfied for hours:
- Calories: 350
- Protein: 20 grams
- Carbs: 35 grams
- Fat: 16 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
The peanut butter provides healthy monounsaturated fats, while the banana adds potassium, fiber, and natural sweetness. For extra nutrition, use a plant-based protein powder with added vitamins and minerals. This satisfying smoothie can work as a meal replacement or post-workout snack. The possibilities for variation are endless – you can use different nut butters, milks, fruits and protein powders to change up the flavor. A peanut butter banana smoothie is a simple, wholesome treat that will boost your energy and fuel your day.
6: Hummus and Veggie Wrap
A hummus and veggie wrap is a perfect light, protein-packed meal. Hummus is made from chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which provide nearly 10 grams of protein per half cup. When paired with veggies and a whole grain wrap, this meal comes together in minutes for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
Look for a medium-sized, whole wheat wrap, lavash bread or pita. Whole wheat options have more protein and fiber than regular flour tortillas. Warm the wrap briefly in the microwave to make it more pliable.
Commercial hummus comes in a variety of flavors, from original to roasted red pepper to sriracha. For extra protein, choose a chickpea-based hummus. Spread 1/3 to 1/2 cup of hummus evenly over the wrap.
Load up your wrap with a variety of chopped or sliced fresh veggies:
- Bell peppers (any color): Peppers are low in calories but high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
- Cucumbers: Cool, crisp cucumbers provide hydration and a fresh taste.
- Carrots: Shredded or sliced carrots add nutrition, texture and natural sweetness.
- Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes provide lycopene, a beneficial plant compound.
- Sprouts (optional): Alfalfa or broccoli sprouts contribute extra protein and enzymes.
Roll up the wrap tightly, slice in half and enjoy! You can also top the wrap with extras such as avocado, lettuce greens, or a plant-based cheese before rolling it up.
A hummus and veggie wrap made with one whole wheat wrap, 1/2 cup of hummus and 1 to 2 cups of assorted chopped veggies provides an easy, delicious meal with around 15 to 20 grams of protein and 300 to 400 calories. Add a piece of fruit and you have a balanced, satisfying plant-powered lunch. Hummus and veggie wraps are also great for meal prep since you can make a batch of hummus and wash and chop veggies ahead of time.
7: Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos
For delicious quinoa and black bean tacos, you’ll need:
-1 cup quinoa, rinsed
-1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-1/2 cup diced red onion
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 teaspoons chili powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
-12 taco shells or tortillas
-Salsa, avocado, lime wedges, cilantro for serving
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spices – chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne (if using) and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for 30 seconds while stirring frequently.
- Add the corn and black beans and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cooked quinoa. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Warm the taco shells or tortillas in the oven or microwave, then fill them with the quinoa and black bean mixture. Top with your favorite toppings like salsa, avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
- Alternatively, you can serve the quinoa and black bean mixture on its own, or on top of salad greens. Either way, these fiber-filled tacos are delicious, satisfying and guilt-free. Give them a try – your taste buds and body will thank you!
8: Pasta Primavera
Pasta primavera is a delicious, protein-packed vegan meal. By loading up your pasta with fresh veggies, legumes, and nuts, you’ll feel satisfied without the extra calories.
- 1 lb whole wheat pasta (penne, linguine, etc.)
- 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the asparagus, bell pepper, and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cashews and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 2 minutes more.
- Add the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to create a sauce that lightly coats the pasta. Serve immediately.
This hearty yet healthy pasta dish provides over 15 grams of protein and lots of nutritious veggies in each serving. The chickpeas and cashews add protein, healthy fats and a satisfying crunch. Using whole wheat pasta boosts the fiber, which helps keep you feeling full. Leftovers can be enjoyed for up to 3 days – simply reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until the pasta is warmed through. Buon appetito!
FAQs: Vegan Meals With Protein and Low Calories
Do vegan meals have enough protein?
Yes, vegan diets can absolutely provide enough protein. Some of the best plant-based sources of protein include:
- Tofu: Contains about 10 grams of protein per half cup. Tofu can be grilled, baked, steamed or added to stir fries.
- Lentils: A cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein. Lentils are great in soups, stews and salads.
- Nut butters: Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein. Almond and cashew butters also have protein and healthy fats.
- Seitan: Made from wheat gluten, seitan contains about 30 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving. Seitan can be used as a meat substitute in many recipes.
- Quinoa: A cooked cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein. Quinoa can be used as a side dish, or added to salads for extra nutrition.
Are vegan meals low in calories?
Vegan meals can absolutely be low in calories. Some tips for creating low-calorie vegan meals include:
• Focus on non-starchy veggies: Build your meals around veggies like leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. These are low in calories but high in nutrients.
• Choose healthy fats: Use fats that are naturally low in calories but high in nutrition like olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil. Limit high-calorie fats like coconut milk.
• Watch your portions: Even healthy vegan foods like nuts, nut butters, tofu, etc. are high in calories if eaten in large amounts. Pay attention to recommended portion sizes.
• Bulk up with broth-based soups: Vegetable-based soups made with broth provide extra nutrition and volume to meals without a lot of calories.
• Avoid sugary and processed vegan foods: Many vegan meats, cheeses and snack foods are highly processed and high in calories, fat and sodium. Choose whole foods instead.
What are some examples of high-protein, low-calorie vegan meals?
Some examples of balanced vegan meals that are high in protein and low in calories include:
• Tofu vegetable stir fry over zucchini noodles: Tofu, veggies and zucchini noodles provide protein, fiber and nutrients for under 350 calories.
• Lentil soup: A bowl of lentil soup with veggies has about 300 calories and 15 grams of protein.
• Burrito bowl with rice, beans, salsa and guacamole: A burrito bowl with rice, beans, salsa and guacamole has 400-500 calories but provides at least 15 grams of protein.
• Quinoa salad with chick
Conclusion : High Protein Low Calorie Vegan Meals
So there you have it – 8 high protein low calorie vegan meals that won’t break the calorie bank. With a little creativity and an open mind, you can craft delicious plant-based meals that keep you satisfied. A common myth is that vegan diets lack protein but as you’ve seen, that simply isn’t the case. With ingredients like tofu, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, you have more than enough options to keep your protein intake up and your taste buds happy. Why not give a couple of these recipes a try this week? You might just find a new favorite meal and discover that vegan food can be healthy, hearty and downright delicious. Eating more plant-based meals is good for your health, the planet and the animals. It’s a win-win-win in my book!