Do you whip up vegan smoothies for breakfast and hummus six ways for lunch, only to lose your love of plants when dinnertime rolls around? Understandably, it can be harder to get excited about another pasta or rice bowl. Not only does the idea of eating all those carbs after 3 p.m. fly against well-worn diet advice, you might worry that you’re not getting enough protein to fuel your body, especially after a long evening run.
Fear not! That’s the advice of Joel Kahn, M.D., a Detroit cardiologist who’s been vegan for the last 40 years. He tells his patients that they can get plenty of protein from plants. “If you eat the colors of the rainbow, there’s no need to monitor protein grams,” says Kahn, who’s also the clinical professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “But I’m talking about whole plant-based foods, not Skittles or Pringles.”
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For the record, the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance for protein intake is your weight multiplied by 0.36, which comes out to 54 grams for a 150-pound person. (You can calculate your own on their website.)While a cooked boneless skinless chicken breast has about 24 grams of protein, many vegan staples will help you meet your daily totals pretty quickly. “Just eating nuts, seeds, beans, and greens provide more than enough protein for you to flourish,” says Kahn. “And you don’t need to add protein powders to your diet, unless you’re an endurance athlete burning 6,000 calories a day.” Some examples: A cup of cannellini beans has 15 grams of protein. A serving of tempeh (fermented soy) adds 19 grams. Even a sprinkling of some chopped almonds and roasted hemp seeds on your salads or quinoa can add 10 more grams. Don’t forget soy milk and vegan yogurt.
Check out these nutritionists’ go-to ideas for dinners bursting with flavor and protein: