While plant-based eating has shown to be an incredibly healthy way of life and a wonderful avenue to support our planet, there are a few vitamins and minerals that are a bit of a challenge to find in the plant-based world.
One such nutrient are complete proteins.
Complete proteins refer to foods that contain “all nine essential amino acids required to build and repair protein tissues in the body.” Alright, hold up. What are amino acids? These organic compounds “combine to form proteins … [and are an essential component of the] … building blocks of life.” Amino acids have many functions in the human body including breaking down food, growth, repairing body tissue, providing energy, and performing essential bodily functions.
Basically, our bodies need a variety of protein in order to repair itself, energize, and function.
Why are vegans warned about getting these essential nutrients? Turns out that most complete proteins are found in “animal-based foods like eggs, dairy, fish, and meat … while most plant foods are incomplete — meaning certain amino acids are missing from the protein puzzle.”
Yet, the information regarding complete and incomplete proteins are somewhat misleading. While you need a few sources of complete proteins or a mixture of proteins to create complete proteins, it’s been discovered that “if a person consumes enough calories from a healthful, varied diet — even if those calories come exclusively from plant-based foods — [they] should get an adequate supply of essential amino acids.”
Well, that’s wonderful news!
Of course, it doesn’t come cheap. Now we know that plant-based foods can offer us adequate protein, but we have to make sure to get enough and from the right sources.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 10 vegan-friendly, complete protein snacks to keep in your pantry, in your desk at work, or tucked away in your purse to keep you full and energized all day!
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy!
Buckwheat is not only heart-healthy and protein-rich, but it’s also not wheat. Quite deceptive, I know, but it also means this is a wonderful gluten-free alternative. This Anthony’s Organic Raw Hulled Buckwheat Groats is not only USDA Certified Organic, but it’s verified gluten-free and contains zero preservatives or artificial ingredients. Buckwheat groats can be toasted, roasted, steamed, boiled, or ground into buckwheat flour for baking! A 5-pound bag costs $19.99.
CocoDeMer says “This buckwheat is excellent! Finally a perfectly delicious, organic, non-roasted product that doesn’t turn into mush during cooking! I grew up in Eastern Europe and “grechnevaya kasha”, which is cooked roasted buckwheat groats, was my favorite hot cereal (i know I am not alone on that). In this country, for many years I was completely unsuccessful in finding an American equivalent to that European buckwheat I knew and loved (the two main problems with the buckwheat grown here were complete lack of flavor and immediate disintegration of the grain on contact with water). So I had to buy my “grechka” in Russian stores, whenever I could find those; and what is sold there, although usually delicious, still is not organic (in fact you can never be sure of how it was grown) and it is, of course, roasted, which means some of the nutrients in this champion of all super grains get destroyed. …Well, to keep the long story short. If you are an Eastern Slav with love for buckwheat built into your genes, but also happened to be a health nut and a natural food connoisseur you may want to try this buckwheat. I am not sure if you will be ready to completely give up your roasted groats just yet, but, I swear, this product comes incredibly close in flavor and deliciousness and is identical in texture. Definitely, for my buckwheat pre-summer detox week, I am using exclusively Anthony’s organic raw buckwheat. So glad I finally found what I was looking for!”
By mixing yourself up some hummus and pita, you’re also getting a nice dose of complete plant-based protein! These Sabra Snackers Classic Hummus with Pita Chips are great to take on the road, in your purse, or have on hand in the pantry at home. Sabra is proud to offer a kosher certified, vegan-friendly, and plant-based product. Plus, each of these snack packs contains 11 grams of protein! A 4.56-ounce packet costs $1.71.
Amazon Customer says “I really like the way this Hummus and Pita chips taste. Lots of flavor and leaves you feeling full for a few hours. Good afternoon snack between lunch and dinner.”
It’s all in the name of this one! Kashi is a trusted brand that now offers this wonderful cereal that combines multiple plant-based proteins to give you that diversity necessary on a vegan diet. This Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs Breakfast Cereal contains zero sugars, — quite rare for a boxed cereal — 18 grams of whole grains, is non-GMO project verified, and sodium-free. What’s in this mix? You’ll get a simple puffed cereal treat complete with hard red wheat, brown rice, oats, barley, triticale, rye, buckwheat, and sesame seeds. Plus, it’s 100 percent plant-based and vegan-friendly. A 6.5-ounce box costs $3.99.
bonana says “I am 70 and have missed plain puffed wheat so much since g. mills stopped making it long ago. this Kashi puffed grain assortment includes puffed wheat. with 7 different puffed grains included it is even better tasting. I never put sugar on cereal – want to taste the grain. And it must be good for me – must go to the grocery store health dept. to find it. being able to order it on amazon is the way to go.”
Crackers are one of those must-have snacks. They’re great for dipping in your favorite plant-based hummus or salsa, plopping some nut-based cheese on top of, or simply snacking on when you need to munch. These Simple Mills Sprouted Seed Original Crackers not only offer an outlet for those munchies, but they’re also a great source of protein with a mixture of sprouted seeds including sunflower, flax, hemp, and chia. These crackers are also free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, corn, gums, and emulsifiers, plus they’re vegan-friendly, paleo-friendly, and non-GMO project verified. A 4.25-ounce box costs $4.99.
Amazon Customer says “These are so delicious. I eat them all the time.”
Lentils and legumes are truly where it’s at in the plant-based protein world! This 365 Everyday Value 7 Grain & Lentil Blend offers a vegan-friendly source of mixed proteins to create a complete protein meal. This product is free of added sugars (yay!), an excellent source of fiber and iron, and is super easy to make — just heat. What’s in this mixture? You’ll get long-grain white rice, wheat berries, white and red quinoa, red and white rice, bulgur wheat, and green lentils. Plus, this mix has a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. An 8.8-ounce bag costs $2.99.
AlexJouJou says “This is a perfect product for anyone who is trying to eat healthy. I am doing the 80 Day Obsession from Beach Body and this makes quick meals very easy. I just measure it out, throw it in a pan with eggs, tomatoes and spinach and voila! Breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three occasionally!). The flavor is fine, it heats up well, and there is not so much in it you are going to get bored with it. I love it!”
Just because it’s filled with protein doesn’t mean you can’t have a little sweet treat thrown in the mix. These Kashi Crunchy Chocolate Chip Chia Granola Bars offer a protein-packed dark chocolate rich treat to keep on hand. These bars are made with a blend of whole grain oats, rich chocolate chips, chia seeds, and coconut. They offer 23 grams of whole grain, 4.5 grams of fat, and three grams of fiber. A 5-pouch box costs $2.99.
Shelby says “I was a little bit hesitant about buying this. I do like Kashi but it tends to be a hit or miss with me. When I saw this it sounded good but also unsure about it. I decided to just chance it and ordered three-box (since it’s an add on item). I’m sure happy I did, tastes great and is definitely good for on the go when I don’t have time to make anything. It’s two thin bars that have a “line” so you can break them in half. It’s not a meal replacement obviously but it does tide me over until I can get something else to eat. My kids love them too! If I could eat them all I probably would right away but I do save them for the “on the go” trips. Definitely will be buying again.”
Get your tortilla chips on, while also getting a dose of plant-based protein! These Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips use only real ingredients — flax, sunflower, and sesame seeds — and are gluten-free, vegan, kosher, non-GMO, and contain zero artificial flavors or preservatives. A 5.5-ounce bag costs $2.99.
Gottaread says “A family member has Celiac and must eat Gluten Free. These were great with the hummus I made. I enjoyed them even though I am used to foods that are not GF. The person I bought them for started eating them as you would as crackers but then quickly progressed to eating them as chips. I had to take the bag away since 1/2 of the bag was gone before I knew it! If you don’t eat GF, they are a quickly acquired taste, but that passes after the first couple of chips. If you eat GF, they are a delight. I will order more.”
If you haven’t discovered the magic of Food for Life, then this is the perfect time to get started. Food for Life offers a wide variety of 100 percent sprouted grain products. This Food For Life Organic Sprouted 7 Grain Bread is not only sprouted — meaning you get a double dose of those nutrients — but it’s also 95 percent organic — meaning none of those pesky pesticides. Keep in mind that these bread varieties perish quite quickly, so keep it frozen! A 24-ounce loaf of bread costs $6.39.
Bee says “I have wanted to try this bread for a while, but have always past it up in the store. I decided to go ahead and try it, and I was really glad that I did. I really enjoyed it. I took two slices out of the freezer and popped them in the toaster. Made perfect toast without having to worry about thawing out the whole loaf.”
Seeds offer a wonderful source of complete protein, especially when you diversify the variety in any given product. This Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Seed + Flax Granola is the perfect item to snack on or even enjoy as a meal with some plant-based milk or yogurt. This product is certified USDA organic, non-GMO project verified, and each serving features 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein, plus it’s an excellent source of ALA-Omega 3’s. The blend features crunchy whole grain rolled oats, pumpkin and flax seeds and a touch of sea salt and cinnamon. An 11.5-ounce box costs $2.98.
Kristi R. says “I get this every month on my Prime Pantry order. My son eats most of it and I am happy that he likes it because it is so much better than the sugary cereals he likes. This summer my favorite way to use this cereal was to make a parfait with fresh blackberries or strawberries from my garden, a layer of greek yogurt and top it with this granola. It really is delicious and is a simple dessert. I highly recommend this granola at this price!”
Peas are someone demonized because they happen to be a bit more starchy than other vegetables. Yet, everything in moderation is the key! They happen to be a great source of protein. This 365 Everyday Value Lightly Salted Organic Pea Crisps are certified gluten-free, certified organic, certified kosher, and are certified vegan! Plus, they offer a wonderful source of fiber without all that added sodium. A 3.3-ounce bag costs $1.99.
Laurie Grigsby says “Preferred to the similar but decidedly different as well, I anticipated basically the same quality of snack that I purchase in the store in the past years…fortunately for me and for you, they stopped making my previous brand of baked green beans. Initially, I was discouraged, and uncertain about what to replace the previous brand with for snacks. I tried the green beans above, and with the first snack, I was GRATEFUL that my old brand was no longer available! Even baked green beans can be oily, and sometimes chewy in certain brands. But these beans are light, crunchy, and the flavor reminds you that you are having a delicious and healthy snack….try at least two bags, and you will never need chips again.”
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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