Happy new year, lovelies! I’m so excited to be moving into 2019 with you all, and I can’t wait to see where my blog and freelance writing/ design takes me.
This week we’re building on our series titled Plant-Based 101; I took a brief hiatus for Christmas to spend time with family – I hope you enjoyed the holidays as well!
I almost get as excited about plant-foods as my daughter gets about the song “Baby Shark”!
After a relaxing few weeks, and a plethora of Kenna tantrums, I’m ready to get back to the Plant-Based series grindstone!
Today we’ll tackle the age-old question: “How do you get your protein if you aren’t consuming meat or dairy?”
Why is this question so common?
First, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Most of us were raised on a typical Standard American Diet (SAD for short, unfortunately) which places heavy emphasis on animal products as a source of protein. Traditional “healthy” SAD meals are built around a serving of animal protein, and complimented by starches and other veggies. Because we were raised to view meat as the center of a meal, and the main source of protein, we naturally wonder how, when eliminating this focal piece, all that protein will be replaced.
So when someone asks you this question, prepare to hear it multiple times and don’t get offended – it’s merely due to a lack of knowledge about the wider scope of protein sources within nutrition.
How much protein do we need in a day?
This is a really important question to ask yourself before you continue through the article. Everyone’s protein needs are different, and may even differ day to day depending on the amount of exercise you tackle during the week (YES, running after a toddler and playing airplane counts, too!).
I like to think of this ‘macro’ as a weekly goal, rather than a daily goal. Why? There will be some days where you work out harder, and probably one or two days during the week where you rest. You will need more protein to rebuild damaged or stressed muscle tissue on the days you work out harder!
I simply keep a rough running tally starting on Monday to make sure I’m hitting a weekly goal.
For me the calculation to the right averages to about 48-49 grams of protein per day. That’s roughly 340 grams per week. I tally in tens, and when I have 34 tallies, I know I’m doing pretty well!
340 GRAMS A WEEK?!
That’s quite a bit when you take a step back and think about it!
When I first went Vegan, I drank a serving of this shake each day just to make things easier. Now, most weeks I find it isn’t necessary number-wise, but it’s nice to drink after my evening workout to make sure I’m not depleting my muscles too much.
A protein shake is a good way for beginners to feel comfortable when switching to a vegan diet. As you become more familiar with vegan proteins, you can choose to keep the shake or cut it out!
Okay, so where's the 'beef'?
I’ve copied this amazing chart from a fellow vegan over at Made By Luci. She’s also keenly aware of how common this question is! I, personally, eat a lot of items off of this list. Most weeks I exceed my minimum protein needs – it’s not hard to get the recommended amount of protein (even without a shake), you guys!
Protein needs and working out?
Depending on what kind of exercise you do – and how often you work out – you are going to need more protein than someone who is less active.
I work out about 75 minutes 5-6 times per week at night; I resistance cycle for 60 minutes and do weight and resistance band exercises for 15 minutes.
The days that I work out, I shoot to get an extra 10 grams of protein after my workout. Usually this is when I drink my protein shake, just to make those amino acids easily available (working out is hard on your muscles!).
Some protein-packed meal ideas
Oatmeal topped with a variety of seeds.
Stir fry with marinated tofu.
Pad Thai noodles with crispy sauteed tempeh, topped with peanuts.
Curried lentils and mushrooms over brown or black rice.
Smoothies with super-food powders – sometimes I use homemade pumpkin seed/almond milk.
Pulse pasta with cashew “cream” tomato sauce.
Veggie burger “steak”, baked potato, and roasted brussel sprouts with cashew “cheese” sauce.
What are your favorite protein-packed vegan meals? Link some in the comments down below! I’d love to check out your recipes and add them to my repertoire!
Until next time,