Sustainable Eating / Wellness

Power-Up with Plant Protein

Healthy fresh cauliflower and squash salad

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps our bodies build and maintain muscles, keeps hair, skin, and nails healthy, and shuttles nutrients to our cells.

Protein is found in a variety of different foods —  both plant and animal. Plant proteins offer both health and environmental benefits. (Turns out what’s good for our bodies is also good for the planet!) Whether you follow an entirely plant-based diet, are aiming to reduce your total meat consumption, or would like to simply add more plants to your diet, it’s easy to get all the protein you need from plant sources.

How much protein do you need?

Healthy adults*:

0.37 x weight (in pounds) = daily protein needs (in grams).

For example a 150 pound person needs approximately 55g of protein/day.

*Active people, particularly athletes, as well as people with certain health conditions may need more protein.

Plant Source Serving Size Protein (g)
Beans (e.g. kidney, black, pinto) ½ cup cooked 7-10
Pulses (eg. lentil, chickpea, peas) ½ cup cooked 8-9
Nuts 1 oz. kernels 6-8
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons 8
Quinoa ½ cup cooked 4-5
Seeds 1 oz. kernels 6-9
Tofu, firm 4 oz. raw 10
Tempeh 3 oz cooked 15
Dark green vegetables ½ cup cooked 2-4
Whole grains (e.g. farro, wheat berries, bulgur, barley, brown rice)                  ½ cup cooked;

1 oz. dry

2-4

As you can see, with a little planning, you can easily meet your daily protein needs with plant sources. Even making one to two meals per day entirely plant-based can have a significant impact on your health and the environment.  Here is what a day might look like:

Breakfast:

  • 2 slices whole wheat toast with 2 tbsp peanut butter (16g, including toast) OR
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal with 1 oz walnuts and ½ cup blueberries (13g)

Lunch

  • Lentil, vegetable, and whole grain bowl (17g, including ½ cup lentils, ½ cup farro and 1 cup vegetables) OR
  • Salad with chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and mixed vegetables (22-24g, including ½ cup chickpeas, 1oz seeds, 2 cups vegetables)

Dinner

  • Lentil quinoa burger on whole wheat bun (20-24g including bun) OR
  • Grilled tofu over quinoa, black bean, and vegetables salad (20-22g including 4oz tofu, ¼ cup beans, ½ cup quinoa, 1 cup vegetables)

Total for the day: 50g – 62g

Portion sizes are based on the serving size recommendations for the average adult, and may need to be increased or decreased depending on size, activity level, and age. Snack on a handful of nuts, chia seed pudding, or a bean salad for a filling and protein-packed pick-me-up between meals.