Wanna Eat More Plant-Based, But Worry About Protein?
So, while I'm not 100% vegan or rather, whole foods/plant based, it is my go-to default position when at all possible. Why? I've found it to be the most sustainable, helpful way for me to manage my health, blood pressure, and weight maintenance. I'm certainly not subscribing that everyone hop on board. But for me, it's been a game-changer. I'm not going to delve too deeply into that here. However, if you'd like to learn more see my previous article here.
At the moment, I just want to address a common concern people have about not getting enough protein on a plant-based diet. You might be surprised to learn that, based on the research, the incessant panic over protein consumption may be unfounded.
Along the way, we've been taught that if you don't eat animal products, you will become crazily protein-deficient. On top of that, with the focus over the last few years on the low-carb obsession which has manifested in different ways over the years from Dr. Atkins to South Beach to Paleo to Keto, etc., having as much protein as possible has become an uber-focus of many trying to keep pounds off.
I tried the Dr. Atkins diet back in the day and I did lose weight. However, for me, I started to miss carbs so bad it actually depressed me a little. I also noticed I looked a little sick (to me) when I looked in the mirror. I just didn't feel right. So, I stopped. And, when I did, guess what happened? Yep, all those pounds came back in full force. Fast forward several years and through other low carb experiments and I found myself delving into the whole food plant-based realm. That's a long story and a post for another day. Let's just say, it works for me. I know people have vastly differing opinions on this, and I'm not trying to convert anyone.
However one of the most common questions anyone who leans toward a plant-based diet will hear is "but where do you get your protein?"
Answer: Where to begin?
Again, as mentioned earlier I do eat meat selectively. However, you don't have to because there are many plant-based sources of protein. Here are just a few:
Legumes. This is a big one. It includes beans of all kinds of protein-rich foods including lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts. Healthline has a helpful list of some of the most nutritious legumes you can eat here.
Almonds. Medical News Today reports that "almonds offer 16.5 g of protein per ½ cup. They also provide a good amount of vitamin E, which is great for the skin and eyes."
Quinoa. This is a grain that I love to use in all kinds of dishes. Sometimes I use it as a sub for rice, pasta, or in soups. You can also sprinkle it on salads or just stir-fry it with veggies and nuts and it becomes a main course. Yum. It also has 8 grams of protein per cup and also contains other nutrients like magnesium, fiber, iron, and more.
But that's just the first few that come to mind. Want a more comprehensive look? I found this to be a helpful article.
Bottom line? As long as you're eating a nutritious variety of plant-based foods, you can get plenty of protein.