Vegan Diet and Protein

How can vegans get adequate protein?

Vegans do not eat animal-derived foods, including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. If you are a vegan, educate yourself on ways to get enough protein in your diet. Protein can be categorized into two types—animal-based and plant-based.

  • Animal-based proteins (meat, milk, and eggs) are sources of complete protein. They have all the essential amino acids (building blocks of proteins) that our bodies need.
  • Plant-based proteins are incomplete. Incomplete proteins do not provide all the essential amino acids that we need to be healthy. Because they do not have all the essential amino acids, it makes it necessary to combine different plant sources to help cover the gaps that each one has.

Combining plant protein sources

There are many good sources of plant proteins. These sources include wheat, nuts, peas, beans, corn, rice, and soy. Although it is not required to combine these sources in the same meal it is important to include a variety of plant protein sources in your diet over time. The table below provides some healthy and delicious ways to combine incomplete plant protein sources to optimize the amino acids that vegans need.

Cereal grain Legume Plant Protein Food Combinations
Wheat Peanut Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Corn Beans Vegan burrito or taco on corn tortilla
Rice Soy Stir fry with brown rice and tofu

Tips for vegans to get adequate protein

  1. Top granola or non-dairy yogurt with your choice of nuts and/or seeds.
  2. Add hummus or another bean spread to sandwiches or wraps.
  3. Add grilled tofu or crumbled tempeh to salads.
  4. Choose high protein snacks such as a nut butter sandwich or a handful of roasted chickpeas.
  5. Vary your protein sources to keep your diet healthy and sustainable over time.