One of the most common questions we hear about a vegan diet is “Where do you get your protein?” While protein deficiency is incredibly rare, it’s still important to know how to get protein on a vegan diet. If you’ve recently gone vegan or you want to transition to a vegan diet, you may be wondering the same thing. Worry not! Here’s everything you need to know about protein on a vegan diet.
What is Protein?
Protein is an essential macronutrient that the body uses to build, maintain and repair various tissues, including your muscles, bones, skin, hair and other organs. Protein also gives your body energy, keeps your immune system strong, and keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Protein is made up of 21 amino acids. Your body can make 12 amino acids, which are known as non-essential amino acids. You must get the other nine, known as essential amino acids, from the food you eat.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Americans are obsessed with protein. Adults, on average, eat more than 100 grams of protein per day, which is more than the recommended amount of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Most people don’t realize that the adage “the more, the merrier” doesn’t necessarily apply to protein. If you consume more protein than your body needs, it’s converted to fat or eliminated through your kidneys. This can contribute to osteoporosis, kidney disease and kidney stones. Research also shows that diets high in protein, specifically animal protein, are associated with higher rates of cancer and heart disease.
Of course, the amount of protein you need depends on a variety of factors including age, weight, fitness goals and overall health. Generally speaking, as long as you eat a variety of whole foods, you’ll meet your daily protein needs eating a vegan diet.
Animal Protein vs. Plant Protein: What’s the Difference?
If meat and plants both contain protein, you may be thinking “Does it really matter? Protein is protein, right?” Not all protein is created equal. And where you get your protein does matter, especially when it comes to your health.
Hundreds of studies show the benefits of eating plants and plant-based protein. At the same time, there are just as many studies that show that eating meat increases your risk of chronic disease. Plants also contain more nutrients than meat. For example, meat is completely devoid of any dietary fiber, which is a nutrient most Americans don’t get enough of in their diet.
And if you still think animal protein is superior to plant-based protein, here’s something to think about: How do animals like cows and gorillas get big and strong? It’s not because they eat meat.
The Top 8 Vegan Protein Sources
Still worried about how to get protein on a vegan diet? Here’s a look at some of the top vegan protein sources:
Seitan (pronounced SAY-tan) is made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. This meat substitute has some serious protein content—46 grams of protein per ½ cup to be exact! Thanks to its meat-like texture, seitan can be sliced thin like deli meat for sandwiches, diced for stir-fries or even made into meatballs or “steaks.”
Curious about seitan? Try Beyond Sushi’s Chipotle Seitan Sandwich or Chipotle Seitan Skewers. Order now!
Tofu may not look like much, but don’t let that fool you! This unassuming white block is actually a protein powerhouse. In one cup of tofu, you’ll find 20 grams of plant protein. Because tofu is made from soybeans, it’s also a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that you need to get from food.
Get your tofu fix with Beyond Sushi’s Mighty Mushroom Sushi, Fun Guy Dumplings, or Nutty Buddy Wraps. Order now!
Tempeh is another popular meat alternative. With 16 grams of protein per ½ cup, this traditional Indonesian food can be used in stir fries or to make tempeh bacon. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, which makes it a complete protein. In addition to its high protein content, tempeh is fermented and contains probiotics, which means it’s good for your gut.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, nut butters and seeds, including hemp, chia and sunflower, are all rich in protein. The great thing about nuts and seeds is how accessible they are and how easy they can be added to dishes or as a snack.
Lentils are another plant-based protein heavyweight. One cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein. Lentils come in many varieties—or colors, like brown, green and red. They can be used in everything from burgers, loaves, soup, curries, taco “meat” and dips!
Also known as garbanzo beans or the main ingredient in hummus, 1 cup of chickpeas contains 16 grams of protein. Try adding chickpeas to soup or salad for a protein boost. Or you can make your own hummus!
Want to increase your gains? Then add quinoa to your diet! This gluten-free grain, which is technically a pseudocereal, contains 9 grams of protein in 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Bonus: It’s also a complete protein! You can easily swap quinoa for rice in any dish.
Thanks to the rising trend in plant-based eating, food companies, like Impossible Foods, are redefining what meat alternatives look and taste like. A 4oz serving of the Impossible Burger, which mimics the texture and taste of real meat, contains 19 grams of protein—the amount of protein found in ground beef. You also get the added benefits of no cholesterol, antibiotics or hormones.
Beyond Sushi proudly serves Impossible meat. Try our Impossible Sliders or Pasta and “Meatballs.” Order now!
Visit Beyond Sushi in NYC
We hope this answers your question on how to get protein on a vegan diet! Beyond Sushi is New York City’s leading vegan restaurant chain best known for our innovative plant-based offerings. On the menu, you’ll find globally inspired dishes that will leave a lasting impact on both your palette and the planet. Dine in with us or order takeout or delivery today!