8 Tasty Plant-Based Diet for High Protein
You’ve decided to go plant-based but are worried about getting enough protein. Don’t fret – there are plenty of delicious plant-based sources of protein that will satisfy your needs. A plant-based diet can provide all the necessary nutrients, including protein, without relying on meat. The key is focusing on whole foods like beans, nuts, seeds, and grains. Whether vegan, vegetarian, or want to add more plants, these seven tasty plant-based protein sources will boost your protein intake and fuel your body. Get ready to discover protein-packed recipes and meal ideas featuring foods you already love. Going plant-based for protein has always been more complex and satisfying.
What Is a Plant-Based Protein Diet?
A plant-based diet for high protein focuses on getting most of your protein from plant sources rather than animal products. This means eating more:
Foods like beans, lentils, and peas are packed with protein. A cup of most legumes contains 15-20 grams of protein, similar to a few ounces of meat. Some options to try:
-Add Black beans to burritos, salads, or rice bowls.
-Lentils: Simmer them with veggies and spices to make a hearty curry or stew.
-Edamame: Steam the soybeans, season with salt for a snack, or add to stir-fries.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are nutritional powerhouses. Just a small handful contains 6-10 grams of protein.
-Almonds: Spread almond butter on bread, fruit, or snack on raw almonds.
-Pumpkin seeds: Toss pumpkin seeds on salads for extra crunch, or blend into pesto.
-Chia seeds: Add chia seeds to oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies. Two tablespoons contain about 5 grams of protein.
Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
Meat alternatives made from plants, like veggie burgers, meatless chicken nuggets, and soy-based sausage, provide a similar texture to meat without high saturated fat or cholesterol. Look for options with at least 10 grams of protein per serving.
Whole grains provide fiber, B vitamins, and a few grams of protein per serving. Some ideas:
-Quinoa: Cook quinoa and add to salads, stir-fries, or eat as a side dish. A cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein.
-Oats: Choose steel-cut or rolled oats and top with nuts, seeds, and fruit for a balanced breakfast with 10 grams of protein per cup.
Following a plant-based high-protein diet can provide health benefits like lower heart disease and diabetes risk. Focus on eating various foods above and aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein each meal. Your body and the planet will thank you!
For more information on nutrient-rich plant-based foods, you can explore the comprehensive guide on plant-based nutrition provided by the American Heart Association.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet High-Protein
A plant-based diet for high protein benefits your health and the planet.
Improved Heart Health
Eating more plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and nuts can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. This reduces your risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Plant proteins contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, unlike meat and dairy.
Lower Risk of Disease
A diet high in plant-based protein and low in meat may help prevent or manage diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Many studies show vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower disease rates and live longer. Plant foods’ fiber, vitamins, and minerals promote health and longevity.
Better for the Environment
Industrial meat production strains natural resources and contributes to deforestation, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, most plant foods are sustainable to produce and eco-friendly. By eating more plant protein, you’ll do your part to conserve land, water, and energy.
Weight Loss and Management
Plant-based diets tend to be lower in calories, especially when you avoid highly processed meat substitutes. The fiber in beans, lentils, and vegetables helps you feel full, so you eat fewer calories. This can aid weight loss and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight long-term.
A diet focused on plant-based protein sources offers nutritional, health, environmental, and weight management benefits. Adding more beans, lentils, nuts, and meat substitutes to your diet can help you live well while promoting sustainability and compassion. Finding plant-based proteins you enjoy may take some experimenting, but the rewards are well worth it.
Did you know that a plant-based diet has been shown to reverse heart disease? Research and studies have demonstrated the incredible benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle in improving cardiovascular health. By incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, you can take proactive steps towards promoting a healthy heart.
Tasty Plant-Based Diet for High Protein
Tofu: A Complete Plant-Based Protein
Tofu is a complete plant based deit high protein made from soybeans containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. It’s a perfect plant-based substitute for meat.
Tofu comes in different textures, from silky soft to extra firm. Soft or silken tofu works well in desserts, dips, and smoothies. Firm or extra-firm tofu holds up better in stir-fries, grilling, and baking. No matter the texture, tofu needs flavor help. It readily absorbs sauces and marinades, so take your pick of Asian-inspired, Mexican, Italian, or whatever cuisine you like.
- Marinate extra-firm tofu in your favorite sauce or dressing before baking, grilling, or adding to stir-fries. Baking or grilling helps give tofu a meaty, chewy texture.
- Add soft or silken tofu to smoothies for a protein boost. Its creamy texture works great in desserts like chocolate mousse, cheesecake, or ice cream.
- Press tofu before cooking to remove excess moisture. Place tofu between two plates or in a tofu press. Weight it down with heavy objects like books or cans and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Pressing improves the texture and allows it to absorb more flavor.
With its mild flavor and texture, tofu works well instead of meat in many dishes. And at about 10 grams of protein per half cup, it provides an easy way to add protein to your plant-based diet. Try it in stir-fries, sandwiches, salads, chili, and more. Your options are endless with tofu.
Beans and Lentils: Packed With Protein and Nutrients
Beans and lentils should be staples in any plant-based diet high protein . They’re packed with protein and nutrients to keep you satisfied and energized.
- Black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans contain 8-10 grams of protein per half cup. Lentils have 9 grams per half cup. That’s more than an egg! Add them to salads, burritos, or chili for a protein boost.
- Beans and lentils are high in fiber, iron, and magnesium. Fiber keeps you full and aids digestion. Iron carries oxygen in your blood. And magnesium helps convert food into energy.
- They’re budget-friendly. Dried beans and lentils cost pennies per serving. Stock up, cook a big batch, and freeze portions for six months.
- Try bean-based pasta and lentil soup. Many brands now offer high-protein pasta made from beans and lentils. And lentil soup is a cozy, comforting meal.
- Ease into eating more beans and lentils. They can cause gas for some. Start with 1/2 cup a few times a week and drink plenty of water. Your body will adjust.
Beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses that deserve a spot on your plate. Whether mashed in a burger, tossed in a salad, or simmered in a curry, they satisfy like meat at a fraction of the cost. A plant-based diet high in protein has never been so delicious and nutritious. Dig in!
Seitan: Made From Wheat Gluten and High in Protein
Seitan, made from wheat gluten, is a popular plant-based protein used as a meat substitute. Gluten is the main protein found in wheat. When wheat flour is washed with water, the starch is removed, leaving behind gluten. This gluten is then cooked in broth to make seitan.
High in Protein
Seitan contains about 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, comparable to a similar serving of ground beef. The protein in seitan is considered a “complete protein” because it contains all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. For those on a plant-based diet, seitan can be an excellent source of protein to include in your meals.
Versatile and Easy to Cook With
Seitan has a texture similar to meat and works well as a substitute in many recipes. It can be grilled, baked, stir-fried, or braised. You can find seitan pre-made and flavored in many grocery stores or make your own at home using vital wheat gluten flour and vegetable broth. Homemade seitan allows you to control the flavorings and spices. Many people marinate or season seitan to mimic the taste of chicken, beef, or pork.
Low in Fat and Cholesterol-Free
Unlike meat, seitan is very low in fat and cholesterol-free. Three ounces of seitan has only about 2 grams of fat and no cholesterol. This makes it a heart-healthy source of protein for plant-based diets. However, some commercial seitan products may contain coconut oil or other fats, so check the nutrition label.
Seitan can be a nutritious part of a balanced plant-based diet. Look for low-sodium varieties and season them yourself to control the amount of salt. Seitan may not suit everyone, such as those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. But for many, seitan provides an easy plant-based protein option.
Tempeh: A Cultured Soybean Cake for Protein
Tempeh is a plant-based protein powerhouse made from cultured soybeans. Originally from Indonesia, tempeh
is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with Rhizopus oligosporus mold. This process binds the soybeans into a cake-like patty and creates natural probiotics for gut health.
A Complete Protein
Tempeh contains all nine essential amino acids our bodies need, making it a complete protein. A single 3-ounce serving of tempeh has about 20 grams of protein, comparable to meat. For plant-based eaters or those reducing meat consumption, tempeh is an excellent protein source.
In addition to protein, tempeh contains many nutrients like manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. It’s also high in prebiotics like oligosaccharides that feed the good bacteria in your gut. The fermentation process also increases the bioavailability of nutrients like zinc and iron.
Easy to Cook With
Tempeh has a mild nutty flavor and firm, chewy texture that works well in many recipes. You can grill, bake, stir fry, or braise tempeh. It absorbs marinades and sauces very well due to its porous nature. Tempeh can be used as a substitute for meat in dishes like kebabs, chili, sloppy Joes, tacos, and more. Look for marinated or smoked varieties for extra flavor, or make your own marinade with soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and chili peppers.
Whether you’re a lifelong vegetarian or want to add more plant-based protein, tempeh is a delicious and nutritious option. Give tempeh a try in your next meal and enjoy all the benefits of this wholesome soybean cake.
Nut Butter: High in Healthy Fats and Protein
Nut butter is a perfect plant-based source of protein and healthy fats. Whether you prefer peanut, almond, or cashew butter, these spreads pack a nutritional punch.
Peanut butter is likely the most popular nut butter. Just two tablespoons contain 8 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat. Peanut butter is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and contains antioxidants like vitamin E, magnesium, and niacin.
- Look for natural peanut butter with no added sugar and hydrogenated oils.
- Peanut butter works great as a spread on bread, in smoothies, or by the spoonful.
Almond butter has a mild, nutty flavor and creamy texture. It’s chock full of vitamin E, magnesium and riboflavin. Two tablespoons provide 7 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat, most of which are monounsaturated fats.
- Almond butter can be pricier, so look for options with minimal ingredients like almonds, salt, and sometimes sugar.
- Use almond butter as a dip for apples, in oatmeal or yogurt, or in place of peanut butter in recipes.
Cashew butter has an irresistibly buttery and slightly sweet flavor. It’s high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Two tablespoons pack in 5 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat.
- Cashew butter tends to be the creamiest nut butter, with a consistency similar to peanut butter.
- Spread cashew butter on pancakes or waffles, or use it in place of peanut butter in Asian-inspired dishes like cashew chicken.
Nut butter satisfies your hunger and provides lasting energy. Keep a variety on hand for a quick, nutritious snack or meal. Just enjoy them in moderation, as the calories can add up quickly. Around two to three tablespoons a few times a week is a good target.
Seeds: Tiny but Mighty Sources of Plant-Based Protein
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain about 4.4 grams of protein. They’re also high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
Chia seeds have a mild nutty flavor and can be sprinkled on yogurt or oatmeal, added to smoothies, or used as an egg replacement in vegan baking. When chia seeds are soaked in liquid, they develop a gel-like coating that can be used as a vegan egg substitute. Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes. Use three parts chia gel to replace one whole egg in a recipe.
Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, are the shelled seeds of the hemp plant. Despite coming from the same plant as marijuana, hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of THC and will not cause a high. They are considered a perfect protein as they contain all 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain about 10 grams of protein.
Hemp seeds have an earthy, nutty flavor and creamy texture. They can be eaten raw, sprinkled on foods, or blended into hemp seed butter, milk, or oil. Hemp seed butter can be used as a substitute for peanut butter on bread or in recipes. Hemp seed milk can replace cow’s milk in smoothies, cereal, and baking. The oil has a grassy, nutty flavor and can be used for low-heat cooking or as a salad dressing.
Flax seeds are small, flat brown, and high in protein and fiber. Two tablespoons of ground flax seeds contain about 4 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. They’re also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and minerals.
Flax seeds have a mild nutty, earthy flavor. They should be ground before eating to unlock their nutritional benefits. Ground flax seeds can be sprinkled on yogurt or oatmeal, added to smoothies, or used in place of some flour in the muffin, cookie, and bread recipes. One egg can be replaced by mixing one tablespoon of ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of water. Let sit for 15 minutes, then use in place of one whole egg.
Quinoa: A Protein-Packed Whole Grain
Quinoa is a protein powerhouse. This ancient whole grain is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. Just one cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein.
Easy to Cook
Quinoa is also gluten-free, easy to cook, and ready in about 15-20 minutes. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer, then combine one part quinoa and two parts water or broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the grains are tender and have absorbed all the liquid, about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season to taste.
Versatile and Nutritious
Quinoa can be used as a side dish or added to salads, breakfast bowls, and veggie burgers. It has a mild nutty flavor and a texture similar to couscous. Quinoa is also high in fiber, iron, and magnesium. The fiber will keep you full, while the iron and magnesium provide energy and help maintain bone health.
Ways to Eat More Quinoa
- Add cooked quinoa to your morning yogurt or oatmeal for extra protein.
- Toss a hearty salad with roasted or steamed veggies, beans, and a light vinaigrette.
- Use in place of rice in stir-fries or as a side for curries and stews.
- Make quinoa porridge by simmering quinoa in milk or a milk alternative until thickened.
- Add to muffins, cookies, or pancakes for a protein boost.
- Make quinoa burgers by mixing cooked quinoa with mashed beans, chopped veggies, and spices. Form into patties and bake or pan-fry.
Quinoa deserves a regular spot in your diet. This wholesome whole grain is affordable, sustainable, and one of the healthiest plant-based protein sources. Try some recipe ideas above, or create your quinoa dishes. Your body and the planet will thank you!
Nutritional Yeast: Cheese-Like Flakes High in Protein
Nutritional yeast is a plant-based source of protein that adds a cheesy, savory flavor to foods. This deactivated yeast is grown on molasses, harvested, washed, and dried to produce yellow flakes. ### Nutrition
Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain 60 calories, 5 grams of protein, and many B vitamins, including B12. It’s also a good folate, selenium, zinc, and magnesium source. Since nutritional yeast is inactive, it will not increase bread or beer like active dry yeast.
Nutritional yeast has an umami-like, cheesy flavor and is often used as a cheese substitute. It’s delicious sprinkled on:
You can also use it in cheese sauces, scrambles, kale chips, and casseroles. Nutritional yeast helps provide a savory, cheesy flavor without dairy.
Buying and Storing
Look for nutritional yeast in the bulk section of health food stores or buy pre-packaged flakes. Store an unopened package in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 months.
Nutritional yeast may become bitter if overheated, so add it at the end of cooking or use it as a garnish. A little goes a long way, so start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste.
Nutritional yeast is a versatile ingredient that adds nutrition, flavor, and cheesiness to plant-based diets and recipes. Keep a shaker on hand to sprinkle on snacks and meals for an instant protein and flavor boost. Discover how this yellow flake can enhance your favorite foods.
Plant Based Diet for High Protein: FAQs
What are good plant-based sources of protein?
Some of the best plant-based for high protein sources include:
- Tofu: Tofu is made from soy and contains about 10 grams of protein per half cup. Tofu can be grilled, baked, stir-fried, or blended into sauces and smoothies.
- Lentils: A cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein. Lentils work well in soups, stews, salads, and veggie burgers.
- Seitan: Seitan is made from wheat gluten and contains about 30 grams of protein per half cup. Seitan can be cooked in many of the same ways as meat and has a chewy, meaty texture.
- Nut butter: Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 8 grams of protein. Nut butter is great to spread on bread, fruit, or as a sauce or dip.
- Quinoa: A cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein. Quinoa can be used as a side dish or added to salads, breakfast bowls, and veggie burgers.
Do you need to combine plant proteins to get all essential amino acids?
Combining different plant-based diet for high protein sources is a good idea to ensure you get all the essential amino acids your body needs. Some good combinations include:
- Rice and beans: Rice is low in lysine but high in methionine, while beans are high in lysine but low in methionine. Together they provide a complete protein.
- Hummus and pita: Chickpeas are high in lysine but low in methionine, while pita bread provides methionine.
- Peanut butter on whole wheat bread: Peanuts provide lysine but are low in methionine, while whole wheat provides methionine.
By eating a variety of plant-based high protein sources each day, you can ensure you get all the amino acids you need for good health. Focus on whole foods like beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, and you’ll be well on getting enough protein from plants.
So there, you have delicious plant-based diet for high protein sources to boost your diet. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or want to cut back on meat, these options prove you can get plenty of protein from plants. Try swapping in one of these foods for meat in your next meal. Your body and the planet will thank you. Eating more plant-based protein is better for your health and the environment. You’ll feel good knowing you’re doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint and support sustainable food systems. And, of course, your taste buds will be happy too. Plant-based protein can be just as satisfying and flavorful as meat. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring all the tasty plant-based protein options out there. Your new favorite dish is waiting to be discovered.