A common misconception is that it’s impossible to get enough protein when following a vegan diet. In fact, it’s entirely doable to get an adequate amount of protein on the vegan diet. It just may require a little more planning to ensure that you’re getting the type of protein you need. Having tasty, high protein vegan recipes on hand can make it easier to obtain the protein your body needs on a daily basis.
Read on to find out about high protein vegan meal ideas you should incorporate into your routine.
The Scoop on Protein
While getting enough grams of protein is important, so is the amino acid content of the protein you’re eating. In particular, essential amino acids are nutritionally required on a daily basis, since the body is unable to synthesize them. Getting optimal ratios of essential amino acids each day is vital for supporting overall health and well-being. The essential amino acids that we need in our diet are leucine, isoleucine, valine, histidine, methionine, lysine, threonine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan.
Getting optimal ratios of essential amino acids on a daily basis supports nearly all biological functions. The body requires essential amino acids to synthesize muscle tissue, connective tissue, hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. When we are recovering from injury or under stress, the immune system requires more essential amino acids than usual.
While all animal proteins like meat and dairy offer optimal ratios of essential amino acids, plant proteins are missing at least one essential amino acid. As a result, it’s crucial to combine vegetable proteins throughout the day, to ensure that your body is getting the essential amino acids it needs. Excellent sources of vegetable protein include nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and soy products like tofu and tempeh. Seitan is also a great source of vegetable protein made of wheat gluten, but it is not ideal for individuals who are sensitive to wheat gluten and require gluten-free food products.
Why Eat Plant-Based?
A diet that is primarily made up of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans is connected to a healthier metabolism, a lower risk of heart disease, and overall improved health and longevity.
High Protein Vegan Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Enjoying high protein vegetarian meals doesn’t mean you need to give up flavor and comfort foods! Here are a few vegan recipes that are both protein-rich and packed with flavor.
Tempeh Stir-Fry with Soba Noodles
Tempeh is a soy product that offers lots of protein. To create a tempeh stir-fry, combine tempeh, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and onions in a pan with a drizzle of sesame oil. Heat the mixture until the tempeh and vegetables are cooked. Add peanut butter, sweet chili sauce, ginger, and soy sauce to create a peanut sauce. Serve the stir-fry and sauce with soba noodles.
Veggie tacos are a quick and easy weeknight meal that also offers an abundance of protein. Use a variety of fillings to increase the protein and nutrient content as much as possible. First, prepare a ground beef substitute by sauteing crumbled tofu and crushed walnuts in a pan with chipotle chili, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add black beans and corn to the mixture.
Next, prepare a vegetable medley including sweet potatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, and chopped spinach.
Use whole-grain taco shells to create your tacos. Layer the shells with brown rice, tofu and bean mixture, and vegetables. Top with salsa, guacamole, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
Vegan BBQ Sandwiches
Looking for vegan lunch ideas? Try vegan BBQ sandwiches. It is possible to recreate a plant-based version of BBQ sandwiches. Prepare the filling using a slow cooker or crockpot. Place jackfruit in a slow cooker with your favorite BBQ sauce and navy beans. Serve the jackfruit and bean mixture with whole-grain buns, cabbage and carrot slaw, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes.
Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
Meatless veggie burgers are so satisfying, you won’t even miss the meat. In a large bowl, mash together black beans, ground flaxseeds, ground chia seeds, chickpea flour, ground walnuts, and shredded beets. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. If a little extra moisture is needed, add a drizzle of olive oil. Form the mixture into burgers and place them on a baking sheet. Bake the burgers until heated and slightly crispy on the outside.
Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber and complex carbs, making them the perfect vegetable to use for fries. Slice sweet potatoes into wedges and lightly toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Spread out the wedges on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through and crispy.
Assemble your burgers by layering the bean burger, lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, mustard, and ketchup on whole grain buns.
Italian-Inspired White Bean and Kale Soup
This bean soup recipe is perfect for a cold winter evening. First, saute all of your vegetables in a large pot with a drizzle of olive oil. Great vegetable options include onions, garlic, fennel, leeks, celery, carrots, zucchini, and chopped kale. Season the mixture with oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add whole-grain orzo or farro, white beans, and vegetable broth. Simmer until the grains are cooked through.
Pesto Pasta with “Meatballs”
Try making homemade pesto by blending cashews, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Toss the pesto with your favorite whole-grain pasta, such as whole wheat pasta or pasta made with chickpeas or lentils. Whole-grain pasta and pasta made with beans provide tons of protein as well as fiber.
You can prepare meatless meatballs by mashing together black beans, tofu, ground flaxseeds, and shredded zucchini. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, basil, and garlic powder. Form small balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake the meatless meatballs until warmed through and slightly crispy. Enjoy your pesto pasta topped with the “meatballs.”
A smoothie bowl works as a delicious, protein-packed breakfast. Prepare your smoothie by adding frozen bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and mango to a blender with your favorite dairy-free milk. Plant-based milk options include almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and oat milk. Add only a small amount of milk to keep the consistency of the smoothie thick enough to eat with a spoon. Add your favorite vanilla-flavored vegan protein powder and blend until smooth.
Spoon the smoothie into a bowl and flatten with the back of the spoon. Top the smoothie with a variety of toppings like pecans, shredded coconut, oats, cacao nibs, and hemp seeds.
Vegetable and Bean Chili
To prepare veggie and bean chili, create a ground meat substitute. Black beans, kidney beans, crumbled tofu, and crushed walnuts work together to provide essential amino acids as well as a hearty texture. Cook the mixture in a pan with olive oil and season with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Next, add tons of vegetables. Great options include onions, garlic, bell peppers, corn, cubed sweet potatoes, and chopped kale. Add a can of diced tomatoes as well as vegetable broth and tomato paste. Add more seasonings as needed and served over brown rice along with corn chips, cilantro, guacamole, and a squeeze of lime.
Protein pancakes are a perfect breakfast to fuel your morning. Plus, you can prepare protein pancakes ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator or the freezer. To make protein pancakes, mix together bananas, ground flaxseeds, vegan protein powder, almond flour, whole-wheat flour, and almond milk. Cook the pancake batter on a griddle and serve with blueberries, crushed walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Protein-Packed Pita Wrap
A pita wrap can be enjoyed on the go for lunch, or as an easy dinner. First, prepare your fillings for your pita wrap. Veggie falafel, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, and red onions are tasty fillings that offer protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Hummus is a hearty, high-protein sauce that you can use for your pita wrap. You can prepare homemade hummus by combining chickpeas, tahini, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. If you want to add even more protein and fiber to your hummus, add cooked and mashed red lentils and blend thoroughly.
Now, it’s time to assemble your pita wrap. I had a generous helping of hummus to a whole-grain pita. Next, stuff the pita with falafel and veggies. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
A Buddha bowl is an easy way to pack lots of healthy ingredients into one meal. Components of a Buddha bowl include whole grains, legumes, and veggies. Combine chopped carrots, red cabbage, chopped romaine lettuce, kale, red pepper, farro or quinoa, black beans, hemp seeds, baked tofu or edamame, and avocado in a bowl. Top with your favorite vegan dressing.
Tofu Scramble with Avocado Toast
A tofu scramble is an excellent replacement for eggs. Add firm tofu to a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Break the tofu into small pieces using a wooden spoon or spatula and season it with turmeric, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Enjoy your tofu scramble with a side of avocado toast made with whole-grain bread, avocado slices, and sundried tomatoes.
Though usually associated with lots of cheese and unhealthy oils, pizza doesn’t actually have to be unhealthy! Here we provide a high protein vegan pizza idea so you can enjoy a healthy version of your favorite comfort food. First, choose a whole-grain crust that’s high in fiber and protein. Next, prepare your toppings. Marinara sauce and meltable vegan cheese help make the pizza taste as familiar as possible. Next, layer the pizza nutrient-packed ingredients like onions, kale, bell peppers, mushrooms, and corn.
For a punch of protein, add chickpeas and crumbled tofu to your pizza. Bake the pizza in the oven until the crust is baked through and the cheese is melted. Before enjoying your pizza, sprinkle it with fresh basil.
Zucchini is a perfect vehicle for a variety of different toppings and flavors. First, slice zucchinis in half lengthwise. Hollow out the zucchinis using a spoon, leaving the hollow zucchini boats aside. Chop the leftover zucchini into small pieces and add to a pan along with firm tofu, onions, garlic, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, and oregano. Fill the zucchini boats with the filling and top with a drizzle of olive oil and vegan cheese. Bake on a sheet pan until the zucchinis are soft and the filling is cooked through. Enjoy your zucchini boats with a side of quinoa or couscous.
Dairy-Free Vegetable Lasagna
Lasagna doesn’t have to be filled with meat and cheese! Try this tasty vegan version of lasagna that’s packed with protein and veggies.
First, prepare the filling that you’ll be layering in between lasagna noodles. Prepare a high protein filling by sauteing tofu, white beans, and crushed walnuts with onions, olive oil, and garlic. In a separate pan, saute a vegetable medley of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots, zucchini, and kale. Make sure to chop the vegetables into small pieces so they cook evenly and fit into a lasagna well. Season both mixtures with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil.
For a creamy ricotta replacement to use in your lasagna, try this almond ricotta recipe by Minimalist Baker.
Now, it’s time to assemble the vegetable lasagna. Layer whole-grain lasagna noodles with almond ricotta, marinara sauce, the tofu and white bean mixture, and the vegetable mixture. Top the casserole with a sprinkle of vegan mozzarella cheese, if desired. Bake the lasagna in the oven until the noodles are tender and the dish is heated through.
Veggie Potato Bake
Casserole dishes are easy meals to throw together and to enjoy for leftovers the next day. Try this easy, veggie-packed dish that’s high in protein. In many ways, this potato bake is similar to a vegan version of a shepherd’s pie. Boil potatoes until soft and mash them or blend them using a food processor. Add a bit of olive oil, almond milk, salt, and pepper to make mashed potatoes.
Next, create a ground meat substitute using smoked tofu and crushed walnuts. Saute the mixture with chopped onions and garlic. Add vegan butter, vegetable broth, and a little bit of whole-grain flour to the mixture and season with salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme.
Prepare a vegetable mixture of chopped carrots, fennel, celery, spinach, and bell peppers. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme.
Assemble your potato bake in a large casserole dish. First, spread the tofu and walnut mixture along the bottom of the dish. Add your vegetables as the next layer, and top it with the mashed potatoes. Bake until the top layer of potato is lightly browned. Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.
Lentil stew is a perfect one-pot recipe that offers tons of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. First, add chopped vegetables of your choice to a large pot, such as onions, garlic, bell peppers, sweet potato, zucchini, kale, and eggplant. Saute the vegetable mixture with olive oil, until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Season with cumin, curry powder, oregano, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Add your favorite vegetable broth, lentils, and quinoa, and bring the stew to a boil. Simmer the stew until the lentils, quinoa, and sweet potato are cooked through and season to taste.
Making High Protein Vegan Meals Easier
To stay consistent on a plant-based high-protein diet, it’s important to have some strategies in place. Here are a few tips to make high protein vegan meals easier to prepare.
1. Meal Prepping
Meal prep is a key to successfully ensuring that you’re getting the protein you need from a vegan diet. Try creating a meal plan that includes what you want to eat for the week. Then, prepare the meals and pre-portion them into containers, making it easy to grab a meal on the go. Large pots of lentil soup and other one-pot dishes are easy and flavorful vegan meal prep ideas.
2. Delivery or Pick-Up Groceries
Going to the grocery store can take up a lot of time. Getting delivery groceries or setting a pick-up time for your groceries can save you a ton of time on a weekly basis. You can also set up scheduled deliveries for your groceries, so you don’t find yourself without the important items you need to prepare a healthy meal.
3. Buying in Bulk
In order to eat plenty of protein on a plant-based diet, it’s crucial to consume plenty of nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans. Try buying all of these items in bulk; it’s not only more convenient but also cheaper in the long run.
4. High Protein Vegan Snacks
During busy and stressful times, it’s easy to fall off track with healthy eating. Always having vegan snacks on hand that are also high in protein helps you make healthy choices and curbs hunger until mealtime. A few examples of healthy snacks include vegan protein bars, trail mix, pistachios, apples and peanut butter, half a peanut butter sandwich, and carrots and hummus.
On the days you don’t have time to plan out your meals and veggie protein sources, supplements can come in handy. Try adding vegan protein powder or essential amino acid powder to water and smoothies to ensure you’re getting the amino acids you need.
High Protein Vegan Recipes: Conclusion
Getting the protein you need on a plant-based diet may require a little more planning, but it is completely doable. It’s particularly important to make sure you’re getting the essential amino acids that the body needs. High protein recipes that are also vegan can help you meet your protein needs. Veggie burgers, tofu scrambles, smoothie bowls, and protein pancakes are a few examples of delicious vegan recipes that offer lots of protein. High-quality supplements can also be helpful tools for filling in any protein gaps.