When I first started eating vegan, I got a ton of questions about where I got my protein from. Once I transitioned to vegetarianism, my protein was still from the same places. And even now that I am (technically) a pescetarian, I still eat mainly vegan proteins. As a new vegan, it was hard at first for me to develop a rhythm of eating and making sure that I was getting enough calories and protein (especially more difficult when I was mostly raw vegan for awhile.) However, just like the saying goes, practice makes perfect. I don’t even think about protein in my diet anymore. I have learned to plan my meals around foods that will provide me with enough protein and nutrients to satisfy my body.
When I first started dating my husband, he was a meat eater. He had been like that for his whole life. I never once pressured him to give up meat and become a vegetarian like me. However, after doing some research on the food industry, and once he realized how good he felt eating vegetarian, he decided to go all in. Being a vegetarian can be a commitment, but even more so in his situation. My husband’s job is outside work, so he is constantly moving and burning calories. On top of that, his hobby is ultra running. He runs between 30-50 miles a week! He is pretty much eating constantly and always has an appetite. He will be the first to admit that when he became vegetarian it was difficult at first. However, now it’s like second nature to him. He doesn’t even think about it! And he always gets enough to eat and enough fuel to run ultra marathons!
For the sake of usefulness, I’m going to list 5 of my favorite proteins that are vegan. If you’re vegetarian, you may add things like cheese and eggs to make your meals, but here are 5 basic staples that I eat in my everyday life.
May sound obvious, right? At 60 cents to a dollar a can, beans are one of the most economical foods to eat. Not only are they cheap, but there are so many ways that you can use them! One of my most frequent uses of beans is taco night. Just take a look at all my mexican themed recipes. Other ways you could use beans include chili, veggie burgers, chickpea salads, chickpea (instead of chicken) salad sandwiches, roasted chickpeas as a snack, or teriyaki roasted chickpeas instead of meat in a stirfry. There are so many things you can do with beans! I like making sure my pantry is fully stocked for easy meals.
2. PEANUT BUTTER
But wait, peanut butter is high in fat right?! You’re not supposed to eat a lot right? Not necessarily. Many people do not realize that the peanut butter they buy has extra crap in it. The only two ingredients in your peanut butter should be roasted peanuts and salt. That’s it. Peanut butter is a great source of healthy fats and protein. I love adding peanut butter to my smoothies, or having it with apples or celery.
I love buying Ezekiel bread, and keep it on hand for easy snacks and meals. Ezekiel bread has 4 grams of protein per slice. That’s a ton! I love eating mine topped with peanut butter and honey, or as garlic bread with pasta, as croutons for a salad, or for PB & J, etc. I also buy millet based bagels at my local health food store, and they have 8 grams of protein in one bagel. A lot of mornings I’ll just have a millet bagel and some fruit for breakfast, it’s so filling!
We have pasta at least once every few weeks. You may be thinking, well that doesn’t sound healthy. We love enjoying a loaded veggie pasta for dinner. It is such a comfort food. But it doesn’t have to be unhealthy. We buy whole wheat or gluten free pasta (for the protein), and have tons of veggies with it for the nutrition. So good, filling, and cheap!
Last, but not least, veggies! Some people do not realize that veggies have protein too. Some veggies high in protein include peas, brussel sprouts (so good roasted!), broccoli, spinach, and potatoes. These veggies can be the star of your meal and still get you enough protein to leave you feeling satisfied!