If you're on a vegan diet, you've probably had to answer the question, "Where do you get your protein?" more times than you can count.
Yes, it's true that protein is a crucial part of any diet, but no, you don't need meat to get your daily protein needs. In fact, there are a plethora of delicious, high-protein vegan snacks that not only satisfy your taste buds but also your nutritional needs.
In this article, we're going to introduce you to seven of our favorites. Let's dive in!
What Is Protein’s Role in a Vegan Diet?
Protein is often called the building block of life, and for good reason. This macronutrient is involved in nearly every function in your body, from building and repairing tissues to making enzymes and hormones.
While animal products are often associated with protein, they are by no means the only source. Many plants are rich in protein too. And for those following a vegan diet, these plant-based proteins are not just alternatives, they are mainstays.
The key is to ensure that you are getting a good balance of the essential amino acids — the building blocks of protein — that your body needs. And, while it's true that most plant proteins are "incomplete," meaning they don't contain all essential amino acids, a well-planned vegan diet that includes a variety of plant proteins can easily provide all the amino acids your body needs.
How Do You Choose a High Protein Vegan Snack?
Not all protein snacks are created equal, and being a vegan snack doesn't automatically make that snack healthy. So, what should you look for in a high-protein vegan snack?
First and foremost, quality matters. Look for snacks that contain whole food ingredients and avoid those with a long list of unpronounceable additives. A good rule of thumb is to stick with snacks that contain ingredients you recognize and would use in your own kitchen.
Sugar content is another consideration. While a little sweetness can make a snack more enjoyable, you want to avoid snacks with added sugars — look for natural sweetness from fruits instead.
Carbs are not the enemy, but you want to focus on snacks that provide complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. Try to avoid snacks with refined grains and go for those with whole grains instead.
Calorie content matters too, especially if you're watching your weight. But remember, it's not just about the quantity of calories, but the quality. Calories from whole foods that provide a balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats will serve you much better than the same number of calories from processed junk food.
Speaking of fats, it’s best to go for snacks that contain healthy fats from sources like nuts and seeds. These fats are not only good for your heart but can also support your brain and just about every other bodily process too!
Lastly, fiber is your friend. It aids digestion, helps maintain healthy blood sugar, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Try to look for snacks that are high in fiber.
By keeping these criteria in mind, you can ensure you're choosing snacks that are not only high in protein but also contribute positively to your overall health and well-being.
High Protein Vegan Snacks
High-protein vegan snacks are not just for those following a vegan lifestyle. They can provide numerous health benefits, such as supporting muscle recovery post-workout, aiding in weight management by keeping you satiated, and supplying your body with steady energy.
Furthermore, these plant-based foods are typically packed with additional nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, that can support overall health. So without further ado, let’s dive into seven of the most delicious high protein vegan snacks out there:
1. Lentil and Nut Roasted Snack Mix
One of the best ways to increase your protein intake is by incorporating lentils into your diet. These small but mighty legumes pack a punch when it comes to protein content, and they also offer a hefty dose of fiber. Combined with a variety of nuts, you'll get a blend of plant-based protein and healthy fats that support overall health.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Cook a cup of lentils in boiling water until they are soft, usually about 15-20 minutes. Drain them well.
- In a bowl, toss the cooked lentils with a mixture of your favorite nuts — almonds, cashews, and walnuts are delicious, nutritious choices! Add a splash of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and your choice of spices. Paprika, garlic powder, and a hint of cayenne pepper can give a delicious flavor boost.
- Spread the mix out on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils and nuts are crispy. Let it cool before consuming.
This snack is not only rich in protein but also encourages overall well-being by offering essential nutrients that support brain health. Enjoy it at home or pack it up for a protein-rich snack on the go!
2. Vegan Protein Smoothie
Smoothies are an excellent way to pack a lot of nutrition into a single glass, and the great thing about them is that you can customize them to suit your taste and nutritional needs!
- Start with a plant-based protein powder. There are many options available on the market, so choose one that aligns with your taste preferences and nutritional goals.
- Choose a liquid base. This could be anything from water to almond milk or coconut water.
- Add fruits for a natural sweetness and extra vitamins. Berries, bananas, and mangoes all work great.
- Don't forget to add some veggies! Spinach and kale are fantastic choices that blend well and add a nutrient boost without significantly altering the taste.
- For an extra dose of healthy fats, add a spoonful of nut butter, or a handful of chia or flax seeds.
Blend all these together, and you have a vegan protein smoothie that's not just a treat for your taste buds but can also be a great sidekick for fitness goals!
3. Chickpea Hummus with Veggie Sticks
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are an incredibly versatile protein-rich food. One of the tastiest ways to enjoy them is by turning them into hummus — a creamy, flavorful dip that pairs perfectly with raw veggies.
- Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas. Reserve some of the liquid from the can.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the chickpeas, a couple of cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, a hefty spoonful of tahini (sesame seed paste), a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Blend until smooth, adding some of the reserved chickpea liquid as needed to achieve your desired consistency.
- Serve your homemade hummus with an assortment of raw veggies like carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, and cucumber slices for a snack that's as nutritious as it is delicious.
The infinite customization of this snack means that you can eat it for a long time and never get bored with it as it can always be different!
4. Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
Quinoa, often referred to as a "superfood," is a fantastic source of plant-based protein because it's a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Pair it with nutrient-rich bell peppers, and you've got a snack that's not just high in protein, but also loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Cook a cup of quinoa according to the package instructions.
- While the quinoa is cooking, slice the tops off of bell peppers and remove the seeds inside.
- In a bowl, mix the cooked quinoa with other ingredients for added flavor and nutrition. For instance, you could add diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, and some spices like cumin and chili powder.
- Spoon the quinoa mixture into the bell peppers, place them on a baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender.
- Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy!
These quinoa-stuffed bell peppers are not just a satisfying snack, but can also serve as a convenient light lunch or a side for dinner.
5. Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are another plant-based protein powerhouse. When combined with liquid, they form a gel-like consistency similar to pudding.
- In a bowl, mix together a quarter cup of chia seeds and a cup of your preferred plant-based milk, such as almond milk or coconut milk.
- Sweeten to taste with a natural sweetener like honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar.
- Stir well to make sure the chia seeds are evenly distributed, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid and formed a pudding-like consistency.
- Once the pudding is ready, you can top it with your favorite fruits, nuts, or seeds for added flavor and nutrition.
This chia seed pudding is not only a high-protein vegan snack, but it's also a fantastic source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids!
6. Tofu Scramble
Tofu, derived from curdling fresh soya milk, is an excellent source of plant-based protein. This tofu scramble is a vegan-friendly snack that can be eaten at any time of the day.
- Start by pressing a block of tofu to remove excess water.
- Once pressed, crumble the tofu and set it aside.
- In a pan, sauté some onions, garlic, and your favorite veggies (such as bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach).
- Add the crumbled tofu to the pan and cook until heated through.
- Season with turmeric, black salt (for an eggy flavor), and other spices to taste.
This tofu scramble not only provides a protein punch but also serves as a way to get in some extra veggie servings!
Edamame is a whole, complete source of plant-based protein. These green soybeans are typically served in the pod and are a staple in many Asian cuisines.
- You can buy fresh or frozen edamame. If frozen, follow the package instructions to prepare.
- Once cooked, sprinkle with a little sea salt or toss in a pan with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds for a delicious savory snack.
Don’t underestimate the flavor or nutritional value of this snack just because it’s a simple recipe. It will only take a few minutes of prep time which means you should have no problem incorporating it into your daily routine.
The Bottom Line
Embracing a diet rich in plant-based protein has never been easier or more delicious. By incorporating these high-protein vegan snacks into your daily routine, you're not just satisfying your hunger, you're also supporting your health and well-being in a holistic way.
Remember, each person's nutritional needs are unique, and it's important to find what works best for you.
If you want to try another high protein vegan snack, try a sample pack of MOSH protein bars! You’ll get plenty of protein and fiber with an array of delicious flavors to satisfy your taste buds and support your brain! Happy snacking!