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How to meet your protein intake goals

Exploring some vegetarian and vegan food options
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ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY
ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY

Anyone who is looking to gain muscle mass needs to take in large amounts of protein. As a benchmark, even if you’re not trying to actively build muscle, some nutritionists recommend eating at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For people who consume meat, it’s not very hard to do, as meat products tend to have large quantities of protein in them. However, for people who are vegan or vegetarian, such as myself, it can be extremely hard to meet this goal. In this article, I will highlight a list of plant-based, protein-rich foods and supplements that vegetarians and vegans can refer to!

Protein shakes are one of the first supplements people may think of, as they can contain 20 or more grams of protein per scoop. While some powders are made from whey, there are also alternative products made from almonds and soy for vegans. 

Many types of beans, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans, are also a very good source of protein. Chickpeas, for example, contain over seven grams of protein per half cup. If you like the taste, lentils are another alternative you can try. However, it is important to acknowledge that beans are high in carbohydrates, so these foods may not be for those trying to stick to a high protein and low carbohydrate diet.

To stick to this sort of diet, some foods that may help are tofu, tempeh, and seitan. Seitan, for example, can contain up to 21 grams of protein for every third of a cup, with only four grams of carbohydrates. Tofu and tempeh are typically made from soy, mycoproteins are fungus-based, and seitan is made from wheat gluten and spices, all of which may be viable options for vegans. 

All in all, there are a variety of foods that vegetarians and vegans can consume to achieve their protein intake goals. In my experience, it’s best to stick with one source of protein and then mix it up occasionally to minimize meal preparation time. I would encourage you to try out all of these foods and then determine what combination works best for you and your health journey.