Going vegan and learning more about nutrition has lead me to cut other various ingredients from my diet, including soy and gluten. Yes, I’m one of those meat-, dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free eaters (but, no, I don’t “just eat leaves” either). How, then, do I get my protein, I am often asked. You see, many vegans get a good amount of protein from soy or gluten-based substances like tofu, tempeh, soybeans, and seitan. But as a soy and gluten-free vegan, all of that obviously doesn’t fly. Yet, I still understand that having protein in my diet is important, and, I’ve found that with a little bit of research and prep, you can easily meet your protein needs even on a diet like mine – no substitute meats or gluten required.
To start with, let’s review how much protein we really need: according to Reed Mangels, Ph.D. and R.D., “The RDA recommends that we take in 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh.” So, let’s say you weigh 175 pounds. You should then be aiming for around 63 grams of protein per day. Now, for some tips on how to achieve this feat, all the while staying plant-based, as well as gluten and soy-free.
Learn to love lentils.
Lentils are a protein powerhouse at around 18 grams of protein per cup. They’re also cheap and versatile. A triple win!
Hail the hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds weigh in at 16 grams of protein per 3-tablespoon serving. I like to add these seeds atop salads and throw them into smoothies whenever possible.
Beans are your friend.
Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans…all of them will give you, at minimum, 15 grams of protein per cup. Throw beans on or in to at least one of your meals, and you’ll get a good bit of protein. I like to sneak beans into my breakfasts to get a nice morning protein boost.
Pass the peas.
Other legumes, like chickpeas or black-eyed peas, are a great protein source that can be made into veggie burger patties or cooked in soups, placed on salads, and so much more! These will bring in from 13 – 15 grams of protein per cup.
Quick, eat quinoa!
The gluten-free eater’s go-to rice substitute, quinoa is a staple for me and so many other gluten-free vegans. I eat it probably once every day, either at lunch or dinner. Two cooked cups will add 16 grams of protein to your daily count.
Get those greens.
Even your greens can be a source of protein – especially if you eat them in abundance! Spinach totals at 5 grams per cooked cup, while broccoli will give you 4 grams of protein per cooked cup. If you’re a healthy vegan, you’re eating greens in copious amounts – so add these and other protein rich greens in throughout the day, and it’ll add up fast.
Now, let’s put some of this together to see how easy it can be. If you made a dinner of, for example, 2 cups quinoa (16 grams protein) + 1 cup of black beans (15 grams protein) + a sprinkling of 3 tablespoons hemp seeds (16 grams protein) + 2 cups each of spinach (10 grams protein) and broccoli (8 grams of protein), all stirred up with some delicious vegan stir-fry sauce, your lunch or dinner would be giving you 65 grams of protein – above what is recommended for one day for the average 175 pound person! And we did it with no gluten or soy too! See how easy that was?
There are so many multiple variations of this to explore – let us know how all of you gluten and soy-free plant-powered people out there get your protein fill!
Image source: Bella189 / Flickr