How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet (For Building Muscle)

Vegans are generally bad mouthed pretty hard among the muscle building and weight training fans. If you go up to them and say you’re a world class champion athlete and you don’t eat meat, they’ll think you’re either crazy or you’re lying.

People typically assume that it’s difficult to impossible to build muscle on a vegan diet given it’s lack of animal-based protein. But what they don’t realize is that plant protein works just as well for building muscle, and that it’s freaking easy to get enough protein as a vegan. Beans, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds… just to name a few.

Protein Builds Muscles NOT Meat

Protein are essential amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. The body doesn’t distinguish where the protein comes from, and meat is not the only source. A 4-ounce piece of beef or ground beef has about 30 grams of protein, this can easily been obtained from vegan sources such as 2 cups of cooked edamame, or 1 cup of almonds. Unlike the beef, the plant-based protein doesn’t come with unhealthy saturated fats and cholesterol. 

And people will say that plant-based protein is low quality and that it won’t get you big and strong like animal protein, and that’s just lies. If that were true, these people wouldn’t exist:

Read More: Champion Pro Vegan Athletes

The fact of the matter is there are many successful big and strong athletes who are vegan, Patrik Baboumian is a great example of this. Named “Germany’s Strongest Man,” Patrik Baboumian is a vegan strongman who gets all his size and strength eating only plant-based foods, absolutely no animal proteins needed at all.

How Much Protein?

The USDA recommends that average men eat at least 56g of protein a day, and 48g for women. Athletes would need at least double that, 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight is recommended by some experts.

Top 4 Vegan Protein Staples:

You may be surprised but almost every vegan food has protein, even fruits. It’s true, there’s about 1g of protein in a banana. But for building muscle, we need like 100g of protein a day, and obviously nobody is gonna eat 100 bananas a day.

We need staples that are easy to find and have protein levels that can rival that of meat. Here are the top 4 contenders:

1. Nuts and Nut Butters

When it comes to building muscle, you cannot go wrong with nuts. Just 1 cup of almonds will give you 30g of protein, unlike beef, the fats in almonds are healthy fats which help lower your bad cholesterol and improve your heart health. If you’re sick of eating almonds, try brazil nuts or something else, there are so many nuts out there.

There are many ways to eat nuts too. Pour a handful for a snack, or add nuts to your salads. You can also use nut butters such as peanut butter, spread them on whole grain toast, use as veggie dip, or put in a high protein smoothie shake. 

2. Beans & Grains

Beans such as pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, and black-eyed peas as well as lentils should be your staple protein source if you’re vegan and trying to build muscle. They’re not a complete protein source on their own, but they can be if you eat them alongside grains such as rice, corn, or wheat. 1 cup of legumes contain 15g of protein and only 1g of fat, great if you’re doing low fat.

3. Tofu and Tempeh

Tofu is probably the most well-known meat substitute suitable for vegans. It’s made from soybeans, they curdle soy milk and then form it into white blocks of tofu. It’s very popular in Asian cuisine, and it’s quite tasty if you pair it with the right sauce. Tofu is tasteless and bland on it’s own, but it soaks up juices so well. Another food made from soybeans is tempeh.

Tempeh is fermented soybeans that are formed into pieces or strips. They are salty and sour, and has a nutty and earthy flavor. 1 cup of tempeh has just over 30g of protein and 18g of fat. These fermented soy proteins contain the exact essential amino acids as beef.

4. Plant-Based Meats

These are the so-called “fake meats” which are usually made with high protein sources such as soy protein, wheat gluten, and various grains. My favorite brand is Gardein Meatless Products, although not the healthiest they satisfy any meat cravings you may have and also just like real meat are very high in protein.

Try Variations of the Top 4

These top 4 staples can easily provide you with over 100g of protein a day.

If you’re worried about getting bored eating the same 3 things over and over, why not kick it up a notch? Bean burgers. Naco chips with bean dip. Tofu cake. Chocolate coated nuts. You know, mix it up? You don’t have to just eat plain ol’ beans and rice every meal.

I hope you get the idea. If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts, let me know down below in the comment section.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet (For Building Muscle)

    • Kent says:

      I think people should go vegan and not buy any steak at all, grass fed or not. I do believe its healthier and more ethical, but still I believe we should aim better than that, and the better alternative is to go plant-based completely.

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