You know that you need protein to build and repair muscle. But when you’re on a vegan diet, you can’t lean on the old standbys like chicken, fish, and beef to satisfy your protein needs. Instead, you have to get a bit creative and look to plant-based foods like beans, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and soy products to get your protein fill throughout the day.
While it might seem easier to meet your protein needs by just downing a vegan-friendly smoothie packed with protein powder and call it done, “it’s important to spread out your protein intake throughout the day,” says Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., author of Plant-Powered for Life. Studies have shown that those who space out their protein intake throughout the day yield higher protein synthesis than those who consume their entire intake in one sitting. What’s more, vegans and vegetarians actually may need slightly more than the than meat eaters because digestibility of plant-based protein is slightly lower than animal protein.
With the help of Palmer and Ginny Kisch Messina, M.P.H., R.D., we came up with ten easy and delicious plant-based hacks to increase your protein intake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and we threw in a couple snacks in for good measure.