High-Protein Foods for Your Vegan Diet

So my awesome cousin Sarah, who has been vegetarian for a few years, just decided to go completely vegan. When she did, she told me that she was feeling hungry all the time. This is a complaint I hear fairly often from people, and the best explanation I’ve found through research is simple: Not enough protein in your diet.

Now, I know everyone says that it’s impossible to get enough protein as a vegan, blah blah blah. That’s bullshit. There are plenty of tasty high protein foods you can eat, which will keep you feeling full and healthy. Trust me, I haven’t eaten meat since I was 10 years old. I went completely vegan sometime around my 14th birthday – and all through middle and high school I was a serious dancer. I had an athletically demanding routine of up to 5 dance classes per week – oh, and I was on the cross country team. And I’ve never had problems with being underweight or undernourished.

The thing is – you have to learn to cook, at least a little bit. But cooking can be fun! That’s totally what this blog is about! Going vegan involves changing a lot of your eating habits, but once you do, it becomes an easy routine. (Really.)

So anyway, here’s a list a came up with for Sarah of some protein-rich foods that would keep her feeling full. Then I realized it might be a good things to share in this space. So without further ado:

– Tofu

   I don’t know if you’ve cooked with it before, but it’s a life saver for me. It can be in anything, and it absorbs flavor really well. Admittedly, it does tak some practice cooking with. One of my favorite things to do is make tofu barbecue – you seriously just crumble up the tofu and mix with barbecue sauce on a pan on the stove until it’s hot. Most people don’t like the consistency of tofu, but there are a lot of things you can do to make it former.

First, buy extra firm tofu. Also, if you freeze and then thaw tofu before you’re ready to use it, it takes on a thicker texture. Also, tofu absolutely has to be drained if it’s going to be good. The way I do this is to put it on a flat surface on top of a dish towel or several layers of paper towel, put towels on top of it, then put a plate and something else heavy on top of that, (like books or a can of food) and leave it for an hour. When the water is out it cooks way better.

– Tempeh

   Tempeh has TONS of protein. You can buy it in health food stores and places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Unlike tofu, it doesn’t take any special preparation. It comes in a rectangle, all you do is slice it up and cook it. You can cut it in strips and saute it with some sauce to put on a sandwich, or chop it up in cubes and throw it in a stir fry. I like to put it in beans and rice.

– Beans

   Very filling. I don’t like to just eat straight beans by themselves, but I eat them in a lot of stuff. Black beans are my favorite. I like to make black beans and rice – if you use brown rice and tempeh or seitan, it’s a really filling meal, since all three of those things have lots of protein. (I usually throw in a red pepper, an onion and some garlic too.) Black bean soup is also good, and you can buy it in a can. Black beans are in tons of mexican recipes as well. Some other beans to try: Garbanzo (aka chickpeas), red, navy or kidney beans.

– Quinoa

   You can find this in health foods stores, or even those new healthy sections at the regular grocery. It’s  a grain, and you can use it in any situation that you would normally use rice. It has a lot more protein.

– Other Grains

  When you eat rice, brown rice has the most protein. If you combine brown rice (which is a second strain protein) with a green vegetable (which has iron) they make a whole protein. (For example, eat it with broccoli, asparagus, spinach or green beans.) Other grains like barley or millet have a lot pf protein, but honestly I don’t cook with them very often. Oats have protein, so oatmeal is a good choice for breakfast.

– Seitan

  I think this is the most meat-like of any meat stand-in. It’s made from wheat gluten, not soy. It’s kind of hard to find, but it is really really good. It’s pretty much only in health food stores, in my experience.

– Bagels

   Surprisingly, these generally have a lot of protein, if you buy a good brand. Also, whole-grain bread has more protein than white or wheat.

– Nuts

  Raw nuts especially are good. Oh, and if you ever get sick of peanut butter, try almond butter – it’s delicious.

– Faux meat and dairy products (that I actually like)

– Tofurkey slices

– Tofutti cream cheese (I think this is sooooo good)

– Tofutti soy cheese (There is no awesome vegan cheese. This is ok every once in a while on sandwiches, or grated on pizza. Of all the soy cheeses though, I think this is the nicest. Doesn’t melt very well though…)

– Smart Barbecue (You can find this in the produce section at the regular grocery store. It comes in a single-serve pouch. Tons of protein, pretty tasty.)

– Soy crumbles (Whatever brand is vegan – they’re good for chili.)

– Almond Breeze almond milk (If you ever want to change it up from soy milk)

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2 Comments »

  1. Laura Kozak said

    Thank you for this list. My family is always concerned about me not getting enough protien and I usually just mumble something about nuts and beans and sulk off. This will come in handy.

  2. Sarah said

    As the aforementioned Sarah, I would like to comment that this list has indeed solved my hunger problem and my mind and body are much happier. Oh and as a side note– I am very excited that I have gotten my neighbor to eat more vegan foods and less meat/animal products. One by one, we are going to change the world.

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