A lot of people worry about their protein intake on a plant based diet. First off, I want to reassure you: there is plenty of protein in plants. Think about it for a moment: the huge cow you eat for your protein never had meat in her life. She ate grains or grass and yet she got big and strong.
Other large animals that are herbivores are: elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, gorillas. If all those animals can grow heavy and larger than life on plants then so can you. There are many people who are living proof of this. As a matter of fact there is a great movement in body-building and in sports where people move to a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet has many benefits and several athletes have transitioned to this way of eating to improve their performance and recovery.
I am excited about a documentary coming out in fall 2018 featuring vegan bodybuilders and ultra-athletes. It is called The Game Changers.
If you are looking for more information about plant-based athletes and bodybuilders check out these resources:
Rich Roll (from sick lawyer to plant-based ultra-athlete)
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
Plant-Based Muscle: Our Roadmap to Peak Performance on a Plant-Based Diet by Robert Cheeke
There are so many more but I think these are a good start.
People that are not intense athletes or are currently healing from a fracture / severe illness, are pregnant, nursing, old, frail as a rule do not require any additional protein supplementation. Eating a variety of plant foods will be sufficient.
Should you need a protein powder I would consider this one (clickable Amazon Link):
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Vega One All-In-One Plant Based Protein Powder as it contains fiber, omega 3, antioxidants and probiotics in addition to protein.
Surprisingly, nutritional yeast has more gram protein per 1 gram when compared to this protein powder! So, consider using nutritional yeast on your pasta, salads and sauces.
Other plant sources of protein are:
Legumes: Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Edamame, Peanuts
Seeds: Chia, Hemp
If you still can't shake the uneasy feeling then I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read Proteinaholic by Garth Davis, MD - an excellent, excellent book on the subject.
I have the following example from that book:
When you build a house you need a lot of bricks. A dump truck delivers a truckload to your front yard daily. Now you're done with the house - but the dump truck keeps on coming every day with the high load of bricks. Now these bricks are just disturbance, you need to put so much time, energy and effort into cleaning it out every day. When you are ready to remodel the house you might use some of the bricks but otherwise you have to dump them out.
The bricks represent our building blocks - the protein. We keep it coming every day in high doses and our kidney has to manage it and balance out pH levels. That is a lot of extra work. Overall, we are eating too much protein as a society and do not need to worry about protein deficiency. If you take in enough calories from plants then you take in enough protein.
We should be much more worried about fiber deficiency - but nobody talks about that, even though we are deficient as a nation. Fiber sounds boring but it really isn't... although that is another post entirely.