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Monday, September 2, 2013

How Do You Get Your Protein? From Plants, Of Course!

A commonly-asked question for most vegans and vegetarians is, "How do you get your protein?" This inquiry is fueled by a misconception that animal products are the main (or only!) source of protein in the diet, thanks to the governing agencies that control the messaging of nutritional information.  For a veteran vegan or vegetarian, this can be beyond frustrating.

For a person new to a vegan or vegetarian diet, knowing where to get protein from plant sources can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if people continue to question what you're eating. If you're not sure about where to get plant-based protein, you may end up eating the same thing over and over, which can get tiring after a while.

I've been asked a few times about good sources of plant-based protein, so here's a list that might be helpful to those of you on a vegetarian or vegan diet, or those of you considering trying it out for yourself. Quite honestly, the possibilities are endless and very tasty!  This list below is also gluten and soy-free, for those of you with those dietary allergies.  I will never advocate anyone eat anything with soy in it, as it's really not healthy to consume, unless it's fermented (miso, soy sauce), so you won't find any soy milk, tofu, edamame or other soy-substitutes in my list!

Lentils – 18 g per cup
Refried beans - 15.5 g per cup
Chickpeas (or hummus) - 14.5 g per cup
Pinto, kidney or black beans - 13-15 g per cup
Peas – 9 g per cup
Quinoa - 9 g per cup
Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter – 8 g per 2 tablespoons
Almond milk - 7 g per cup
Peanuts - 6.5 g per 1 oz
Sesame seeds - 6.5 g per 1 oz (or 8 g in 2 tablespoons of tahini)
Sunflower seeds – 6 g per 1/4 cup
Oatmeal - 6 g per cup
Pistachios - 5.8 g per 1 oz
Sunflower seed butter – 5.5 g per 2 tablespoons
Brown rice – 5 g per cup
Cooked broccoli – 5 g per cup
Sweet potato - 5 g per cup
Cooked kale - 5 g per 2 cups
Cashews – 5 g per 1/4 cup
Chia seeds - 5 g per 2 tablespoons
Walnuts - 5 g per 1/4 cup
Cooked spinach – 5 g per cup
Almonds - 4 g per 2 tablespoons
Avocado – 4 g per cup (or 10 g for a whole avocado)
White rice – 4 g per cup
Flax seeds – 4 g per 2 tablespoons
Baked red potato – 3 g per cup

I hope this list is helpful.  If you have any other plant-based protein sources you include in your diet, let me know and I can add it to this list.