A Guide to Amping Up Your Protein Intake on a Plant Based Diet

Rohit Panwar

Wondering “how to increase protein intake for vegans?” As a nutritionist, I got you covered. 

I am sharing with you some of the best tips to increase protein in your plant based diet.

How to Increase Protein Intake for Vegans: 14 Actionable Tips 

Most vegans who consult me are often worried about their protein intake. Here are some tips that will help you boost your protein on a plant based diet:


Identify Sources of High Quality Vegan Protein

You first need to start by identifying sources of high-quality vegan protein. This is specially beneficial if you are new to veganism.

Complete/ Nearly Complete Vegan Proteins

Complete proteins are those that contain all the eight essential amino acids that the body does not produce.

  • Quinoa
  • Soy Products – Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Spirulina
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Nutritional Yeast

Other High Quality Protein Rich Vegan Foods 

While these may not have all the essential amino acids, but when eaten in a well balanced diet, they can be excellent foods to include in your diet to boost protein intake.

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Spelt and teff
  • Oats
  • Wild Rice
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Protein rich veggies: Watercress, alfaalfa sprouts, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts
  • Protein Rich Fruits : Guava, avocado, jackfruit, kiwi, apricot berries, and bananas


Incorporate A High Quality Protein Source in Every Meal

Incorporating a high-quality protein source in every meal is a key strategy for ensuring that you meet your protein needs on a vegan diet. Here are some practical tips for doing so:

  • Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast by adding ingredients like chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut butter or a scoop of plant-based protein powder to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.
  • Opt for whole grain toasts  and a sprinkle of seeds for a nutrient-packed and protein-rich option.
  • Include legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, or black beans in your lunch and dinner. They add both texture and a substantial protein boost.
  • Consider tofu or tempeh as protein sources. These soy-based options absorb flavors well and can be easily incorporated into various dishes.


Choose Protein Rich Snacks

Instead of that bag of chips opt for protein rich vegan snacks that not only maintain energy levels but also support your overall protein intake. Some of my favourite protein-rich snack ideas for vegans are:

  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Trail Mix
  • Nut Butter with Apple Slices
  • Hummus and Veggie Sticks
  • Steamed or Roasted Edamame
  • Homemade Protein Bars
  • Chia Seed Pudding
  • Vegan Yogurt Parfait
  • Vegan Jerky


Use A Vegan Protein/ Plant Protein Powder in Your Smoothies

If you love smoothies and shakes, try to include a vegan protein source to make the smoothie more nutrient dense. Some of the best sources to include are:

  • Nut Butter
  • Tofu – I perefer Silken
  • Plant-Based Protein Powder
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Soy Milk Yogurt
  • Spirulina
  • Cooked Quinoa


Try to Get Most Of Your Protein in Breakfast

Getting a significant portion of your daily protein intake at breakfast can set a positive tone for the day, providing sustained energy and helping with satiety. Having majority of  the protein for breakfast has many benefits specially if you wish to maintain your weight.

Do try out some of my most recommended vegan high protein breakfast ideas.


Use Protein-Rich Spreads & Dips 

Instead of mayo, try high protein vegan spreads. Incorporating protein-rich spreads and dips into your meals is a tasty and convenient way to boost your protein intake. Some of the top options you can try are:

  • Hummus & Tahini
  • Edamame Spread
  • White Bean Dip
  • Nut Butters
  • Tofu and Herb Dip
  • Guacamole
  • Soy Yogurt Dip
  • Vegan Pesto
  • Spiced Lentil Dip
  • Vegan Cheese Spread


Choose Your Plant Milk/ Yogurt Wisely

If you’re relying on plant based milks and yogurts for upping your protein intake, make sure you choose the right options. Here are some tips:

  • Choose milks that are naturally high in protein. Some of the best options are soy milk, pea milk and hemp milk. They naturally contain more protein than others. Plant milks are super easy to make at home, you can try them out.
  • Choose plant-based milks and yogurts that are fortified with essential nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, and sometimes even omega-3 fatty acids. This ensures that you’re not missing out on vital nutrients commonly found in dairy products.
  • If you are buying your plant milk, carefully read labels to understand the ingredient list and nutritional content. Look for options with minimal additives, preservatives, and stabilizers.
  • Rotate between different plant-based milk and yogurt options to ensure a diverse nutrient intake. This also prevents potential nutrient imbalances from relying solely on one type.


Explore Meat Alternatives

To keep things interesting, try out the different kinds of meat alternatives available. However, I would recommend going for the least processed options. Other than the commonly known options, some of the popular meat alternatives are:

  • Tempeh
  • Mushroom Based Meats
  • TVP
  • Soy Chunks
  • Seitan


Make Smart Vegan Swaps to Up Your Protein Intake

Making smart vegan swaps is an effective way to increase your protein intake while maintaining a plant-based diet. Here are some handy substitutions to boost protein:

  • Replace white rice with quinoa in your meals.
  • Choose pasta made from lentils or legumes instead of traditional wheat pasta.
  • Use chickpea flour (besan) in recipes for pancakes, crepes, or omelets. It’s higher in protein compared to regular flour and adds a nutty flavor.
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, pasta, or salads. It not only adds a cheesy flavor but is also a good source of protein and B vitamins.
  • Use chia seeds mixed with water as an egg substitute in baking or as a base for puddings. This not only boosts protein but also adds omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
  • Swap almond or peanut butter for sunflower seed butter. It’s a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Sprinkle hemp seeds on salads, yogurt, or oatmeal. They’re a great source of protein and healthy fats


Be Mindful While Grocery Shopping 

This is crucial for ensuring that you make choices that align with your goal of increasing protein intake on a vegan diet. Here are some tips to help you make nutritious and protein-rich choices while shopping:

  • Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. This allows you to identify the protein sources you need and create a shopping list accordingly.
  • Focus on incorporating a variety of plant-based protein sources, such as lentils, legumes, beans, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and nuts, into your meals. Ensure these items are on your shopping list.
  • Be open to trying new protein-rich ingredients like seitan, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, and plant-based protein powders.
  • Pay attention to product labels to check the protein content and other nutritional information. Look for items fortified with additional nutrients, including protein, especially in plant-based milk, yogurt, and cereal.
  • Opt for whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, farro, and bulgur. These not only provide protein but also offer additional nutrients and fiber.
  • Purchase protein-rich staples like beans, lentils, quinoa, and whole grains in bulk. This can be more cost-effective and ensures you have a constant supply on hand.


Include More Sprouts in Your Salads

This is a fantastic way to enhance both the nutritional content and texture of your meals. Sprouts are rich in essential nutrients, enzymes, and provide a satisfying crunch.

Experiment with different types of sprouts, such as alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, or radish sprouts. Each variety offers a unique flavor profile and nutritional benefits. You can also sprout at home.


Combine Protein Sources For Rounded Nutrition

Do not stick to one kind of vegan protein source thinking it can be enough. Instead opt for different food combinations and all kinds of foods ranging from vegetables, beans to tofu and miso.

By thoughtfully combining different plant-based protein sources in your meals, you ensure a well-rounded intake of amino acids and essential nutrients.


Inculcate Habits that Ensure Proper Absorption of Protein

Ensuring proper absorption of protein is crucial for maximizing the benefits of a protein-rich diet. Here are some habits to help enhance protein absorption:

  • Stay adequately hydrated. Water is essential for digestion and nutrient absorption. Aim to drink water throughout the day.
  • Practice mindful eating and chew your food thoroughly. Chewing initiates the digestion process by breaking down food into smaller particles, making it easier for enzymes to work.
  • Incorporate fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your meals. Fiber supports digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut environment, enhancing nutrient absorption.
  • Include vegan probiotics and fermented foods in your diet, such as kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These promote a healthy gut microbiome, which plays a role in nutrient absorption.
  • Distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day. Instead of consuming a large amount of protein in one meal, divide it into smaller, balanced servings throughout the day to optimize absorption.
  • Engage in regular physical activity. Exercise promotes blood flow and can support overall digestive health, potentially enhancing nutrient absorption.


Consult a Nutritionist or a Dietician

For personalized guidance on optimizing your vegan diet, consult a nutritionist or dietitian. We can assess your individual needs, offer tailored advice, and ensure you meet nutritional requirements while enjoying a well-balanced plant-based lifestyle.

Feel free to reach out to me for professional guidance on understanding of vegan nutrition and its impact on your long-term health goals.

Rohit Panwar

Hi! I'm Integrated Nutrition Coach Rohit Panwar. I hold twin Certifications from IIN, New York & SAFM, Massachusetts. I am a passionate vocalist of holistic lifestyle and have fully committed the past several years to educate & empower people towards their wellbeing. Despite a successful yet hectic corporate stint of 21+ years, I have prioritised nutriment in my life. I truly hope my personal journey from illness to wellness helps everybody reading this forge their own path.