Help! I'm Vegan and Can't Eat Soy. How Do I Get Enough Protein?
Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 6:00PM
jenny in Chef Tip, Recipe, Recipe, black beans, protein, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, vegan


Getting Protein from Veggies, Seeds, & Fruit

Are you following a vegetarian or vegan diet and have found that you cannot tolerate soy products? Don’t worry--while soy products are high in protein and often considered a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, you can absolutely get enough protein and variety without soy as part of your diet. 
The thing to keep in mind is that all foods, even fruit, contain a certain amount of protein. The key is to choose the foods that are highest in protein per serving in their category.

Here are 3 ways for a vegan to get enough protein without using soy products:

  1. Beans are your Friend: With all of the soy products out there, it can be difficult to remember that soy is just a little ol’ bean. And just like soy, starchy beans, like pinto are a wonderful source of protein. While soy is the bean highest in protein content, fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans are very close in their protein content per serving.
  2. Go for High Protein Vegetables: Vegetables also contain protein. Peas, Broccoli, Spinach, Artichokes and Potatoes (yes, potatoes—isn’t that the best news?) all have a decent amount of protein per serving.
  3. Hurray for Seeds: Some of the highest protein ‘grains’ aren’t grains at all—they are seeds. Quinoa, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Millet and Teff. All of these seeds have more protein per serving than rice.


Quinoa Pumpkin Seed Salad

Serves 4-6

This delicious, high-protein salad featuring quinoa and black beans is one of my most requested recipes. 
1 cup dry red quinoa, rinsed well (or 2 cups cooked red quinoa)
2 cups water
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 scallions, sliced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
In a saucepan, boil water and add quinoa, lower heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool at least to room temperature before continuing (or use precooked quinoa and skip this step).
In a bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, cumin, and chili powder. Pour over quinoa and stir in cilantro, scallions, beans and peppers, mixing thoroughly.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until service.  Right before serving, stir in pumpkin seeds.

About Chef Jenny Brewer

Jenny Brewer is a nutritionist and chef who teaches people how to cook healthy foods that taste delicious. Visit her site at for delicious healthy recipes, meal plans and cooking inspiration.






See More of Jenny's Posts

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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup (Vegan, DF, GF, Soy-free, Nut-free)

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Article originally appeared on The Tender Palate. For Foodies with Food Allergies. (
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