My vegan friend is tired of getting the third-degree about not eating meat. If she had a seed for every time she gets asked the question “How do you get your protein?,” she’d be able to plant her own garden of frustration.

Here’s the raw truth: Vegans and vegetarians are capable of packing as much protein into their diet as the most avid meat-eater.

Torre Washington, a vegan professional bodybuilder, is living proof. He’s been following a vegan diet for almost 20 years and his strong and fit physique hasn’t been compromised. Instead, he attributes his success and growth to this vegan diet and lifestyle.

“I’m looking for nutrients and focused on variety,” he tells the Washington Post.

Take beans and legumes, for example. There are endless options: black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and you can’t forget the lentils. Incorporate a cup of any of these and you’re getting 18 grams of protein—that’s about as much protein as a chicken breast.

Then there’s the beloved quinoa, currently one of the shining stars of healthy, delicious eating. Not only is it easy to cook, it’s also a go-to ingredient for a well-balanced meal. One cup will give you nine grams of protein.

There are also ways that vegans and vegetarians can incorporate protein into their diet more subtly, like with chia seeds. Chia seeds are like the finishing garnish on a restaurant dish that doesn’t do anything but make the dish look prettier, except the seeds are actually doing something. Just adding two tablespoons to an açaí bowl or yogurt will provide six grams of protein.

Worth mentioning is also the lesser known spirulina, a powder that can be added (in small quantities) to your morning smoothie. Two tablespoons of this nutritious powder will give you the protein and energy-boost you need for the day.

Here are more examples of ways to pack protein into a no-meat diet:

Easy Lentil Soup

Chowhound

Lentils can be just as wholesome and tender as any cut of meat. They’re the perfect ingredient to add flavor and richness to your soup, and this recipe also adds tomato and spinach to make for an even more delicious, hearty meal. Get our Easy Lentil Soup recipe.

Pressure Cooker Vegan Black Bean Chili

Chowhound

Usually bean chili takes hours, but with this recipe you can let your pressure cooker do the hard work in half the time. Black beans may be the star of the show, but the additional combinations of peppers, tomatoes, and spices like cumin make this dish the ultimate comfort food. It also freezes well for the days you don’t feel like cooking. Get our Pressure Cooker Vegan Black Bean Chili recipe.

Buddha’s Delight (Jai)

Chowhound

Mushrooms are a main ingredient of this vegetable stew, and the perfect meaty addition. You also can’t go wrong with all the other veggie goodness going on in this Asian dish, which incorporates traditional Asian ingredients like bamboo shoots and ginkgo nuts. Get our Buddha’s Delight recipe.

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Chowhound

Everyone deserves to have mac and cheese in their lives, and nutritional yeast provides the creamy, cheesy flavor that replaces actual cheese. What makes this dish even better is the addition of broccoli —a great source of protein and the cherry on top to this meal.  Get our Vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

— Head photo: Pixabay.

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