What a Vegan Dietitian Eats for Protein


On Thursday, I posted a look at my food intake to show how I get enough protein even though I’m a vegetarian.

But I don't always eat animal protein. Here’s what I ate on another day, following a vegan diet….

I started off with a nutrient dense, high calorie, high protein breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

Breakfast:
2 slices bread, toasted (130 Calories, 5 g protein)
2 Tablespoons peanut butter (190 Calories, 7 g protein)
2 Tablespoons chocolate nut butter (200 Calories, 2 g protein)
2 clementines (80 Calories, 2 g protein)
1/2 cup coconut milk (20 Calories, 0 g protein)
1/2 cup coffee (0 Calories, 0 g protein)
Total for meal: 620 Calories, 19 g protein

Lunch: 
1 cup leftover vegan chili (170 Calories, 8 g protein)
1 cup vegetable broth to turn chili into soup (10 Calories, 0 g protein)
32 wheat crackers (280 Calories, 4 g protein)
Total for the meal: 460 Calories, 12 g protein)

Afternoon snack: 2 cups stove popped popcorn (80 Calories, 2  g protein)

Dinner:
¾ cup coconut milk (30 Calories, 0 g protein)
2/3 cup cooked black rice (150 Calories, 4 g protein)
11 baby carrots, roasted (45 Calories, 2 g protein)
7 vegan “shrimp” made from elephant yam (240 Calories, 4 g protein)
Total for meal: 465 Calories, 10 g protein

Total for day: 1625 Calories, 43 g protein

I just barely met the minimum protein goal of 42 grams protein, which is okay. Even if I hadn't, my body wouldn't have self-imploded at the end of the day.

The body doesn't count nutrients in a 24 hour period. The focus should be more on an average intake.  Our body can store nutrients because it knows some days we'll eat less than others.

Not to mention, I could easily have gotten more protein simply by eating more. I ate about 400 fewer calories on this day than on the day I shared on Thursday. 

Some Reminders
1. The nutrition info I provided is just an example using the products I have in my house. Chances are the nutrition info won’t perfectly match the brands you like to eat.
2. This is not meant as a meal plan for you to follow. You may need more or less protein to maintain your health depending on body size, physical activity, and medical conditions. (If you are looking for a meal plan, you can get a one-day free trial of Living Plate, which offers meals plans created by Registered Dietitians, including a vegan meal plan that is available for $29/month.)

Conclusion
Both days show that it’s possible to meet your protein needs following a vegetarian or vegan diet without using protein supplements.

They also show you may want to  be careful choosing a nondairy milk.  I took in more protein on the day I drank soymilk than the day I drank coconut milk. Unlike soymilk, coconut milk and rice milk do not contain protein.  Many nut milks also don’t contain much protein even though whole nuts do. If you don’t like soymilk or are allergic to it, compare the nutrition labels when selecting a nut milk. Different brands of almond milk contain different amounts of protein, depending on how the milk was made.

Tell me: Now that you know you can get enough protein, are there other nutrients you're concerned about?

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