Non-Meat Based Proteins

By Sporty Afros
    I am asked quite often,  “How do vegetarians and vegans get their daily amount of protein?” The answers is … We simply eat a variety of grains and vegetables! It’s actually easy, affordable and very healthy. . As long as you eat whole foods, you will get protein. In fact, you could eat nothing but potatoes all day and still meet your minimum protein needs. All foods, like carrots and tomatoes,  have some form of protein. I remember this quote from the movie, Forks over knives ” You can’t be protein deficient unless you are calorie deficient.” Ha! It’s so true! The average person needs the following amount of protein per day.
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day
  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day
With so many options for food, protein intake and supplementation is not a major issue if you are vegetarian or vegan. Below are a few options for a vegetarian or vegan’s daily source of protein. None of these are animal based and great to incorporate into any diet.  You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to enjoy these.  

Quinoa: 8-15 g protein

A grain like seed, quinoa is a high protein alternative to rice or pasta. Because of its high protein and fiber content, eating a little bit of quinoa goes a long ways. Try eating ½ cup served alone or over vegetables and beans for a great low calorie and nutritious meal. Below are a few of our favorite recipes with quinoa.    

Tempeh: 24g Protein

Think of Tempeh as the cousin of tofu. I am a fan of tempeh meatballs in pasta or crumbled up in spaghetti and stir-fry. Tempeh is very similar to tofu as it takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked in.  I haven’t posted any recipes on Sporty Afros yet. I am going to attempt to make the Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh (pictured above.) Wish me luck!!  

Seitan: 24g Protein

One of my favorite proteins and “meat substitutes,” seitan is a great source of protein. Seitan is derived from the protein portion of wheat. One serving provides about 25% of your RDA of protein. Unfortunately, gluten free folks will have to skip this. We have a few recipes that include seitan    

Beans & Peas : 12-28g Protein

From black, kidney to mung and green,  I love beans and peas. Both beans and peas are a great source of protein and are very affordable! Here are some of our Sporty Afros’ recipes with beans and peas. Tips about beans …
  • Remember to cook beans thoroughly to avoid intestinal discomfort and its sometimes socially undesirable symptom (hahaha)
  • Here is a list of beans and peas with the highest amounts of protein
  • Kidney, northern, navy, lima and other starchy beans  contain a higher amounts of carbohydrates and are lower in protein
  • Did you know, a cup of soy beans (edamame) contains almost 30g of protein!
  • Try cooking with raw or frozen peas and beans instead of canned.
  • Soybeans contain complete proteins by themselves, all beans have a fair amount of protein in every serving; some beans are higher in protein than others. Read below for a quick explanation of what a complete protein is.
A complete protein (or whole protein) is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals.[1] Some incomplete protein sources may contain all essential amino acids, but a complete protein contains them in correct proportions for supporting biological functions in the human body. Complete proteins can also be obtained through certain plants, such as soy, spirulina, hemp seed, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. Foods can be combined to make complete proteins like pairing beans with rice or corn. There are other combinations as well. Beans and seeds, beans and nuts, and beans and grains will form a complete protein. When you eat hummus and pita bread, nut butter on whole grain bread, pasta with beans, veggie burgers on bread, split pea soup with whole grain bread, and tortillas with re-fried beans, you are eating complete proteins.


Eggs: 5-9g Protein

I am sure you know by now, Whitney and I  love eggs. Bi-weekly we hit the farmers market for a mixture of organic brown and white eggs.  Eggs are affordable and pure protein. While most people consume white chicken eggs, their are a variety of other eggs such as duck, turkey, quail and goose. A store bought egg is very different than free-range  chicken egg.   Free-range chickens eggs 2/3 more Vitamin A. It doesn’t stop there, free-range chickens also has over 3 times more  more carotene and 7 times more vitamin E. Eggs also have twice as much omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain one-fourth less saturated fat and one-third less cholesterol. Leslie Garcia, Health and Fitness journalist for the Dallas Morning News, has a great article all about the incredible edible egg. “Making the case for a good egg.” contains information and clarification on several myths about eggs. One note in the article: Garcia uncovers the concern around egg yolks. For those concerned about cholesterol, egg yolks have less than ever, Rew says. When she was in college, she remembers each contained around 250 milligrams. Now, thanks to different feed for the chickens, she says the count is closer to 185. … Yolks are packed full of nutrients that, for starters, benefit sight and brain health. After reading about eggs, try a few recipes below with eggs!  

Nuts: 6-8g Protein 

Nuts are great source of protein. They are tasty, easy to eat, and can be added into any meal, dessert, or salad. The downside to eating nuts is that they can be high in calories and unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat is the “good” fat compared to saturated fat, which is found in red meats; though high amounts of either fat is bad for you. Brazilian nuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, macadamia nuts are nutritious sources of protein, amino acids and minerals. Almonds, are rich in iron, calcium and vitamin E, cashews are rich in vitamin A, and peanuts offer zinc. Walnuts, flax seeds and hemp seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids like oily fishes. Below is a list of the most common nuts along with the amounts of protein in each.
  • Peanut butter, 2 Tbs- 8 grams
  • Almonds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
  • Peanuts, ¼ cup – 9 grams
  • Cashews, ¼ cup – 5 grams
  • Pecans, ¼ cup – 2.5 grams
  • Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup – 6 grams
  • Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
  • Flax seeds – ¼ cup – 8 grams

Plant Based Protein Supplements  5 – 30g Protein

For those who need an extra kick after working out or a meal replacement, check out a few plant based protein powders.
  1. Pea protein – Pea Protein is a 100% gluten free protein source that is a great alternative for vegetarians. As with wheat protein, pea protein is lactose free and does not contain any cholesterol. It is very easy to digest and is rich in amino acids.
  2. Wheat Protein. Wheat protein is a healthy and natural alternative to dairy and egg-based proteins. It is lactose and cholesterol free, and is perfect for vegetarian bodybuilders and athletes.
  3. Soy Protein- Soy protein is generally very low in or free of fat, cholesterol, and lactose. Soy protein is approved for those who are lactose intolerant, and can be used by vegetarians as a meat substitute. More than just a protein powder, soy protein can be used as a flour replacement to make high protein, low fat foods!
  4. Hemp Protein – Hemp seeds are one of nature’s best sources for plant-based protein. Containing all of the essential amino acids the body needs, our hemp protein powder is a perfect boost to your morning. Try adding hemp protein powder to your smoothies, shakes and yogurt, or use hemp protein to replace up to 25% of the flour in a baked good.
  5. Many more…. There are other plant based proteins such as Spirulina, brown rice and cranberry. Many companies such as Sunwarrior and Garden of Life blend a variety of plant based proteins in their products. I recommend a blend of proteins to ensure you have a the right amount of amino acids, nutrients and minerals in each scoop.
Just in case you are wondering… Both Whitney and I, are fans of Sunwarrior Protein powders. I asked for a few samples from the company last year, and found which one worked for me. You can pick up Sunwarrior Protein online here and here. I also like Garden of Life Raw Protein powder when making smoothies. We purchase a majority of our supplements and vitamins from My Natural Market online and Natural Grocers in Dallas. Tell them Sporty Afros sent you!  
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