Flat lay of bowls of ingredients such as dried lentils, dried chickpeas and cubed firm tofu.
Centr Team

Vegan foods that bust the protein myth

Centr Team

High protein? Vegan? Now those are a few words that don’t get thrown around together often. While getting enough protein on a plant-based diet can be harder, the claim that a diet devoid of animal products is delivers absolutely no protein is a myth.

The actual facts

People who choose to exclude meat and animal-derived products from their diet may do it for any number of reasons, including ecological responsibility, ethical reasons, religious beliefs, or even taste. A vegan lifestyle is no fad, nor are its potential health benefits.

We’re not saying there aren’t some challenges that vegans face when it comes to nutrition. The main vitamins and minerals that could be lacking in a vegan diet are iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin B12. Protein also comes under this umbrella, but with some basic knowledge of quality and quantity, your protein needs can be met.

Now let’s separate protein fact from fiction, shall we?

Quality vs. quantity

You may have heard the term 'high quality' or 'complete' protein. This refers to the composition of amino acids within a protein. Some proteins contain all of the essential amino acids (i.e. amino acids that can only be supplied by diet). These are the ones considered to be higher quality; in other words, complete proteins.

The quality of protein in plant-based foods is not as high as those of animal origin. But with planning, and a balance of different ingredients and food combinations, you can ensure that your protein needs are met.

According to Advanced Sports Dietitian Lisa Middleton: “The recommended dietary intake (RDI) for protein is, on average, 0.8-1.0g per kilogram (0.01 oz per lb) of body weight.” To put that into perspective, an adult woman weighing 70kg needs around 56-70 grams a day (that’s 1.5 oz for a 150lb woman), which is about two servings of meat, or three to four servings of beans or soy. But as Lisa points out, you'r protein needs will be higher if you train regularly – "potentially up around 1.5g of protein per kilogram (0.02 oz per lb), per day”.

Protein is an important structural component for many body systems and is the building block for muscle. “If you are training regularly then you are in a state of constant muscle breakdown and synthesis,” Lisa explains. “Having the right variety and timing of protein is essential to see results from your hard work.”

Following a carefully formulated, dietitian-approved meal plan in this case is very helpful. The vegan meal plan on Centr takes into consideration your fitness goals, whether it be weight loss, fitness or muscle gains, while doing all the calculating for you. This is a simpler way to meet your body’s nutritional needs while still hitting your goals – minus the steak dinners and bacon breakfasts.

Now for the protein

When creating plant-based recipes on Centr, we always include at least one of these delicious, protein-rich plant foods in each meal:

  • Tofu or tempeh – delicious in stir-fries or as a substitute in traditional meat recipes.

  • Legumes – think curries, falafels, salads and fritters.

  • Nuts – sweet or savory, nuts are versatile and the perfect on-the-go snack.

  • Nut butters – delicious in baked goods, and even better on toast.

  • Seeds – the missing ingredient in your weeknight salads and breakfast oatmeal.

  • Plant-based milks like soy, rice, oat, coconut and hemp – because there's no way we're giving up our smoothies.

  • Nutritional yeast – kind of nutty, some say cheesy, even creamy; it’s high in B vitamins so try adding it to stir-fries, soups, sauces and more.

  • Plant-based protein powders – a useful addition to a vegan diet to ensure your high-quality protein intake is up to scratch, especially if you’re active. Check out our guide to choosing the best vegan protein powder for more information.

Whole grain carbohydrates, such as oats, seed and grain breads, brown or wild rice, pasta and quinoa will also provide small amounts of protein. So don’t underestimate them – your protein intake from these foods can add up throughout the day.

Sign up to unlock your full potential

All your tools in one place

Expert-training to fuel your fitness, nutrition and mindfulness.

Limitless ways to fuel your mind & body

Access to over 3,000 workouts, recipes, and meditations – all tailored to your goals.

Tech that keeps you moving

Download Centr on all your devices to level up and track your results live.