Many people are apprehensive to switch to a plant based diet because of false facts, inaccurate information, and widespread misconceptions of what a plant based diet is. One major reason that many give when trying to justify not transitioning to a lower carbon plant based diet is: not being able to get enough protein without meat. This idea, that a meat centric diet is the only way to get enough protein, has been perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries for decades and is so pervasive that most never question it. However, it is simply not true.
To prove how inaccurate this ideology is, we have compiled this guide for how to switch to a plant based diet and go above and beyond your daily protein targets. For this exercise, we are going to be using the recommended daily protein requirement for a 25 year old man, who exercises regularly (4-5 times a week), is 5ft 10inches, and weighs 180 lbs. For this man, the American Dietetic Association recommends that he gets between 82 and 147 grams of protein per day. The CDC recommends 65-226 grams/day, and the World Health Organization recommends at least 68 grams/day. As you can see, the recommendations vary widely, but to show just how much protein you can get on a plant based diet, we will go with getting 180 grams of protein in a day, much more than you’d actually need. We are breaking down some facts on protein, providing meal and snack ideas, some swaps for a meat centric diet, and demonstrating how you can transition to a plant based diet and still get tons of protein.
Most Americans actually get too much protein. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, males 14-70 are most likely to over consume protein. You should get between 10-35 percent of your daily calories from protein, so on the average 2,000 calorie diet this means 200-700 calories of protein. This would be anywhere from 50-175 grams of protein. Dietitians recommend that you spread protein intake out throughout the day, but to be sure that you are following intense workouts with a protein packed balanced meal/snack. It is important to remember that research shows that eating over 40 grams of protein per meal is no more beneficial than consuming 15-25 grams per meal because of the way your body processes proteins.
Many people start their day with a protein packed breakfast of eggs and maybe a side of meat (think sausage or bacon). Luckily, there are many vegan egg substitutes. Our favorite (and one of the cheaper more protein packed options) is a tofu scramble. Crumble a whole block of extra firm tofu into a pan, add spices/seasonings (we love nutritional yeast for extra flavor and B vitamins), and some turmeric for that yellow color. You can add in some veggies for extra nutrients and serve with a side of tempeh bacon (or other plant based breakfast meat alternative). The tofu scramble alone packs in around 40 grams of protein.
For lunch, we love protein packed sandwiches and buddha bowls. Highly approachable, adaptable, and quick to prepare, these lunch options provide us with tons of protein and nutrients to keep us powered through our day. Some favorite sandwich fillings include chickpea “tuna” salad, tofu, or chocho falafel. These sandwiches can pack in up to 25 grams of protein depending on bread choice and sandwich filling. Instead of standard mayonnaise, spreading a Protein Rich Sauce adds more protein and more flavor. We love to pair our sandwiches with some protein packed sides, like a chocho shake, some nuts, or carrots and hummus. These sides can add another 10-20 grams of protein.
Dinner options on a plant based diet are endless. Substitute your favorite meat for a plant based alternative or ditch the meat and potatoes/chicken and broccoli lifestyle and dive into a bowl of protein packed goodness. Think lentil soups, plant based protein packed bolognese sauce, burrito bowls, stir fries and more. For your next taco night, try switching it up with our Tacos de Chocho recipe. You can even use chickpea pasta or protein packed rice alternatives to really up the protein content. These dinners can easily pack in another 40 grams of protein.
Between breakfast and lunch, we love to snack on an apple with some tablespoons of nut butter. This snack provides upwards of 14 grams of protein per serving. We also love to drink chocho shakes between meals and after workouts, which provide a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving. These snacks add upwards of another 40 grams of protein to our day.
Everyone needs a little evening treat! We love to go for something nutrient dense yet delicious, because you shouldn't have to compromise health for taste. We love baking with chocho, you can make protein packed brownies with our Cacao Chocho Superfood Protein, cookies with our Vanilla Chocho Supefood Protein, and anything in between. We also love to make banana ice cream for dessert, adding in a scoop of our Chocho Protein depending on our cravings. These deserts can easily add in another 10-20 grams of protein to our day. After a full day of eating a plant based protein packed diet with these meal ideas, you will have eaten around 180 grams of protein.