Whether you are a life-long vegan or trying out meatless Mondays for the first time, the question always comes up: “How am I going to get enough protein?”  Vegan meals do not have to be boring, repetitive or difficult to create! The beauty of vegan cuisine is that it draws influences from every part of the world. There are a number of high-protein vegan foods that contribute to a well-balanced meal!

Here are 9 vegan diet foods high in protein!

1. Beans: Have on hand a can or two of any or all of the following beans: chickpeas (garbanzo), kidney beans, canellini, black beans or any other bean that interests you. One half cup of black beans provide 7 grams of protein, which is equal to one ounce of meat.

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2. Pasta: There are many fortified whole grain pastas that provide six to eleven grams of protein per serving, depending on the serving size and brand. There are white, whole grain pastas that taste great and will surprise your family!

3. Dry-roasted edamame (soybeans): This is the number one choice for a protein blast, because it can add 68 grams of protein for every cup consumed! Keep a container ready for quick snacks or a go-to-food after a long day of work.

4. Nuts: Peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter can boost a sauce or dressing by adding texture and flavor. Two tablespoons of peanut butter add eight grams of protein to a luncheon sandwich. Store slivered almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and pistachios in the freezer for salads, baked desserts and stir-fry. One quarter cup of pistachios adds six grams of protein to a salad.

5. Lentils: A warm lentil salad (one cup of lentils) adds 18 grams of protein to a meal. Think about adding to vegetable soup for a complete meal.

Vegan diet foods high in protein

6. Tofu: I prefer the shelf stable packages in a variety of textures. It can instantly add protein in a main dish, salad dressing or pureed soup. One twelve ounce package provides 24 grams of protein. Once opened, it does need to be stored in the fridge.

7. Nondairy milk: Whether you choose rice milk, almond milk or soy milk, check the label for protein content and watch out for extra sugar that the manufacturer may add. Typically, one cup of soy milk has seven grams of protein. Pick one that is fortified with calcium to help build strong bones.

8. Tempeh: A fermented soybean product that might not look appealing, but in the right recipe, can shine. One half cup has 15 grams of protein.

9. Veggie Burgers: For a quick meal, buy fresh or frozen – they can easily be packed for lunch. Again, check the label as protein content can vary. Let taste be your guide.

Finally, if you are just getting started in preparing vegan meals, invest in an inspiring cookbook or two. One of my favorites is Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Be adventurous!

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