Registered Dietitians suggest including more sources of plant-based protein in your diet. Research has linked eating less meat with a lower risk of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. Plus, it’s a more sustainable choice for the environment.
Switching to more plant-based proteins doesn’t have to be intimidating! You don’t have to go fully vegan or vegetarian to experience the benefits. Just including more plant-based protein and a little less animal protein can help reduce risk.
How to Get Started with Plant-Based Proteins
Are you worried that going plant-based will mean you aren’t getting enough protein? Don’t be! It’s an old myth that it’s difficult to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. There are plenty of ways to pack in protein. Start by including the plant-based protein sources below, but don’t forget that there are small amounts of protein in most vegetables. If you’re using a nutrition tracker, you’ll see that the protein from vegetable sources adds up throughout the day.
If you aren’t fully sold on the veggie lifestyle, consider adopting a “flexitarian” diet by shifting to more plant-based foods, while still including lean animal proteins. A great way to get started is to reduce the amount of meat on your plate by half, substituting it with one of the sources of plant protein below.
Here are some nutritious and tasty sources of plant-based protein you can include:
Chickpeas, Beans, and Lentils
With 10-20 grams of protein in a ½ cup serving, the legume family is a great source of protein while also being a source of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. Try pasta made with chickpea flour, swap half the ground meat in a recipe for lentils, or fill tacos with pinto beans and a little bit of baked chicken. You can also try this amazing Mediterranean inspired grilled cod recipe, which uses beans to pack in the plant-based protein!
Did you know that quinoa is actually a seed? It’s true! While it’s usually treated like a grain, quinoa is a protein-rich seed that originated in the Andes of South America. Try swapping 1/4 of the ground meat in a meatball or meatloaf recipe for cooked quinoa, or swapping out rice for quinoa in your favourite rice bowl recipe.
Tofu and Tempeh
Tofu is probably the most well known vegetarian protein source, but don’t overlook it’s cousin, tempeh! Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans, and when crumbled, has a consistency similar to ground meat. Use chopped tofu or tempeh in place of half the meat in your favorite stir-fry recipe.
Nuts and Seeds
A handful of nuts and seeds, such as peanuts, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds, can give your meal a quick and easy protein boost. Sprinkle cashews on lettuce wraps for a nutty crunch, or mix chopped nuts and seeds into your favourite salad.