Plant-Based Protein: A Guide

"But where do you get your protein from?" 

Anytime you mention that you are eating a vegan or vegetarian meal, you will probably be asked this question so often that even if you know the answer you may start to question it yourself.

In any diet these days, especially a vegan diet, people want to know exactly what and where the protein is coming from. I am Alex from Faba, and I am here to take you on a guide through plant based proteins.

So first of all, the short answer to the question, Where do you get your protein from in plant based food?

Don't worry about it, you probably don't need as much as you think, and it's easy to get all you need from nuts, grains, seeds, beans and yes, even greens.

The long answer, is worthy of a book if you want to get really in depth. If you are eating a 100% plant based / Vegan diet there are preferred sources, amino acid considerations and many recipes for cooking with more protein. Like any diet you can get very in depth, we aren't even talking here about carbohydrates of fat, as they are just as important!

Which leads us to the medium answer: this blog post.

How much protein do I need on a plant based diet?

Not as much as you would think. We don't live in a time when the average person is not getting enough protein. If you look at the government recommendations for daily allowances, they're really not that high. For example, in the U.S. the recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8g per KG of bodyweight for the general population.

Now, if you are a very athletic person, it is a little different as you will have greater needs for tissue repair and will require more protein and amino acids in general. But even amongst athletes there is a difference. On one end, endurance athletes can get as little as 5% of their calories from protein sources, and on the other, vegan bodybuilders aim for much higher amounts of protein, often at about 25 to 30% of their calories. This is quite difficult to achieve purely from whole plant foods and so usually supplement with plant based protein supplements.

What are my Daily Recommended Protein Requirements on a Plant-Based Diet?

Alright, let's take that number we discussed previously that on average, a healthy adult should eat at least 0.8g of protein per KG of bodyweight. For example, if someone weighs 60KG, this means that they should aim to consume a minimum of 48g of protein a day (60KG x 0.8g = 48g).

Now, this is a general recommendation. Your requirements may change depending on individual circumstances such as your physical activity, your health status or if you are pregnant/breastfeeding. If in doubt, go see a doctor or nutritionist!

What are the best sources of plant based protein?

I hate to dump more science on you, but let me just introduce the concept of bioavailability of protein. The bioavailability of any protein source refers to the amount of protein that your body can digest from a given quantity of that food. So for example, a cup of soybeans contains 31g of digestible protein. This sounds complex but don't worry, it's very easy to meet the recommendations we discussed earlier, as nearly all plants contain some and often much, protein. So by eating a varied diet that includes vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, as long as you are meeting your energy requirements (calories) to maintain weight, you will rarely struggle to get enough protein.

But that doesn’t answer the question of what the best sources for protein are. Here is a great resource for sources of plant based protein. There are many many sources, but here are some of my favourite sources based of how often I like to eat them:

  • Firm Tofu - 12g protein per cup
  • Tempeh - 30g of protein per cup (that’s a lot!)
  • Black Beans - 15g protein per cup
  • Lentils (I like green the best) - 18g protein per cup
  • Chickpeas - 12g protein per cup
  • Peanut Butter - 8g protein per cup
  • Spinach - 5g protein per cup
  • Broccoli - 4g protein per cup

I do also like to add some vegan protein powder to a smoothie after I have been doing an exercise session. Generally, smoothies can be a great way to increase consumption of high protein ingredients like seeds or nuts such as walnuts or flaxseeds.

What is the easy way to consume plant-based protein?

Okay I weigh around 67KG, so around 54g of protein is what is about right for me. So how do I get 54g of protein in a day?

My approach is simple:

Just eat a little bit of a decent protein in every meal or snack

That’s it. Nothing to complicated, just avoid eating things that are super high in carbs without any protein. But what does that actually look like? Try these food ideas:

  • Eat a piece of toast with some peanut butter on it (15g protein)
  • Add protein powder to a smoothie (10-15g protein)
  • Eat some pasta with some beans (~15g protein per cup of beans)
  • Have a handful of nuts (5-8g protein per handful)
  • Chuck some grilled tempeh on a dish (30g protein per cup!)
  • Lots of lentils (18g per cup)

It’s not that hard to hit your protein targets, no huge numbers but just mix in some of these options and you’ll get there. Every other bit of food you eat has protein in as well so once you start mixing in some better options, you’ll see how easy it is to eat more plant protein.

Or better yet, as part of your diet, eat a Faba meal where we do try to think about this things when we design our dishes. If you do want something with a bit more plant based protein, try our Smoky Chili Bowl which has a whopping 24.3g of protein!

Until next time.



Looking to try a new way of eating amazing vegan food? Look no further!

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