Expert Answer: How can I meet my protein needs through plants?
Written by Jason S. Ewoldt, M.S., RDN, LD. Jason is a registered dietitian for the Division of Endocrinology and the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.
When following a plant-based dietary pattern, the focus is primarily on plants and plant foods. This should include minimally processed whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, legumes whole grains and oils. It doesn’t necessarily mean animal products are off limits, but that the foundation of the dietary pattern is plants. If you are following a dietary pattern that reduces or removes animal products, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, a concern might be getting enough protein. Though by eating a well-planned and balanced plant-based diet getting adequate protein does not have to be a barrier.
The recommended daily allowance for protein is about 0.36 grams per pound. This means a 200-pound adult should be aiming for around 70 grams of protein a day. With a little bit of planning, an individual following a plant-based diet should be able meet this recommendation consistently. Below are some of the top plant-based proteins along with their protein content. What are your favorite plant-based protein sources?
Tofu - 1 cup: 20 grams
Lentils - 1 cup: 18 grams
Beans - 1 cup: 15 grams
Peas - 1 cup: 9 grams
Quinoa - 1 cup: 8-9 grams
Soy milk - 1 cup: 7 grams
Nuts and nut butter - 1 ounce: 5-7 grams