Health and Fitness: 10 Plant-Based Proteins

Shae Foudy credits her vegan diet for fueling her impressive SUP performances. Photo: Mike Muir

Shae Foudy credits her vegan diet for fueling her impressive SUP performances. Photo: Mike Muir

10 Plant-Based Proteins

By: Rebecca Parsons

When you think of a protein heavy meal what comes to mind? A big juicy burger? Charbroiled chicken? A rack of ribs? While these are all good sources of protein, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives that leave a smaller impact on the environment. Many think meat is essential to perform at a high level, but Shae Foudy is a shining example of a vegan who's killing it on a plant-based diet. So read on and discover ten plant-based proteins that will fuel your workout, while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint.

1. Lentils (1 cup cooked = 18g protein)

A member of the legume family, lentils are an excellent source of fiber, essential minerals, and of course, protein. This low-calorie, nutritious protein is easy to make and is ideal to add to salads in the summer or stews in the winter.

2. Hemp Seeds (3 tablespoons = 10g protein)

Hemp seeds are packed with heart-healthy fats, mainly omega-3 fatty acids. They can easily be added to salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and desserts for an extra protein boost.

3. Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked = 7-9g protein)

Quinoa is entirely gluten-free, contains all nine essential amino acids, and numerous vitamins and minerals. It's used as a carbohydrate, making it a healthy alternative to pasta when carb-o loading before a big race.

4. Chia Seeds (2 tablespoons = 4g protein)

These ancient seeds are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids, resulting in immense health benefits for both your brain and your body. Sprinkle some on your oatmeal or add a handful to your CamelBak for some extra protein on an endurance paddle.

5. Edamame (1 cup cooked = 18 g)

Edamame makes a perfect snack or appetizer, as it is packed with protein. Additionally, this young soybean is gluten-free, low calorie, contains no cholesterol, and is a good source of iron and calcium.

And some folks think vegan diets are bad for your health... Photo: Mike Muir

And some folks think vegan diets are bad for your health, Shae might disagree. Photo: Mike Muir

6. Nutritional Yeast (3 tablespoons = 12g protein)

Nutritional yeast comes in a powder/flake form, but when mixed with a liquid it creates a paste. It contains no dairy or active yeast, but has a naturally cheesy flavor, making it the ideal ingredient for dairy-free sauces or dressings. Mix with water or almond milk for a deliciously cheesy, protein-rich sauce.

7. Tempeh (3 ounces = 16 g protein)

This meat alternative is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and then pan-frying them. It contains significantly more protein than tofu and is easier to digest due to its fermented nature. Throw it in a stir fry or shape it into meatballs for a protein-rich meal.

8. Black Beans (1/2 cup cooked = 7.6g)

Like many other beans, black beans are a great source of protein. Additionally, they are chock-full of potassium, folate, heart-healthy fiber, vitamin B6, and a variety of phytonutrients. Add them to soups or stews, breakfast burritos or to satisfy your sweet tooth, black bean brownies.

9. Spirulina (2 tablespoons = 8g protein)

This superfood is 70% protein by dry weight and is a deep blue-green color. It detoxes heavy metals, eliminates candida, reduces blood pressure and boosts energy. With a sweet and nutty flavor, it's perfect to use in smoothies or dessert recipes.

10. Chickpeas (1/2 cup = 6 g protein)

Who doesn't love hummus? Chickpeas are the perfect blend of fiber and protein, making them a highly nutritious snack. Dip your veggies in hummus or spread it on a sandwich for some extra protein between workouts.

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