Adopting a plant-based diet doesn't have to mean you'll be eating little to no protein. In fact, if you set a daily goal and stick to it, it can be quite easy to get the amount of protein you need every single day.
Typically, people should aim for 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight daily, according to Catherine Perez, a registered dietitian with a focus on vegan and plant-based nutrition.
But if you're on a plant-based diet, Perez recommends going a step further.
Here are three ways you can get more protein in your diet, even if you aren't eating dairy, meat or seafood.
1. Eat a little more than the recommended amount of protein each day
Vegans and vegetarians should aim to eat 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight each day, says Perez.
"That slight difference is there to help adjust for differences in terms of the digestibility of a lot of these proteins," she says.
"When it comes to plant-based proteins, they have a lot of fiber [in] them, and sometimes that fiber attaches to some of the protein, which prevents us from digesting it fully."
Adding the extra 0.1 grams daily can help to assure that you're meeting your protein needs, Perez adds.
2. Aim for at least 3 servings of these foods a day
There are certain plant-based foods that are high in protein, and Perez encourages you to have at least three servings of one or more of them daily if you're vegan or vegetarian.
Perez recommends these high-protein foods:
- Legumes: beans, chickpeas and lentils
- Peanut butter
- High-protein beverages like soy milk and pea protein milk
"I always recommend tofu or tempeh [because] usually they will have slightly more protein compared to things like beans. And they're the foods that are more highly digestible," says Perez.
She suggests incorporating seitan and vegan meats, crumbles and sausages, as well.
3. Try these 3 meals
Now that you know which foods can help you meet your protein goals, you'll need some quick and easy ways to put it all together.
To get you started, Perez created this simple meal plan for plant-based eaters:
- Breakfast: Tofu scramble – sauté crumbled tofu with spices you enjoy, and if you like, add turmeric for a color change to mimic the appearance of eggs.
- Lunch: Pita bread with falafel inside – consider adding crushed chickpeas and a sauce you can't get enough of.
- Dinner: Stir fry – choose your favorite vegetables, add a protein of your choice like tempeh or tofu and either make your own sauce or toss in your go-to. This meal can be paired with a rice you love.