Protein-Rich Vegan Diet: A Guide for the Busy Nurse

Protein-Rich Vegan Diet: A Guide for the Busy Nurse

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Written by Amanda Marten FNP-C, MSN

Are you a nurse who wants to switch to a vegan diet? Or are you already a vegan nurse and incorporate enough protein into your diet? Let’s discuss the health benefits of a vegan diet and protein-rich vegan foods that are delicious and easy to add to your busy schedule.

Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

Besides positively impacting the environment, switching to a vegan lifestyle has many health benefits. For example, a protein-rich vegan lifestyle can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol levels. A vegan diet also diversifies the bacteria of your gut microbiome, improving your overall health and immunity. Vegans who eat mostly nutrient-dense foods are more likely to have stronger appetite control, reducing food cravings, especially for carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important for energy, but eating too many can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease or weight gain. Also, processed or refined carbs can raise blood sugar and lack nutritional value. These are a few of the many health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

Protein-Rich Vegan Foods

Incorporating high protein and nutrient-rich foods into your diet can be difficult, especially when working a 12-hour shift in your favorite scrubs. Meal planning is a great way to ensure you have a balanced, healthy diet. Protein is one food group that you should not be lacking, since it gives you energy and supports muscle and bone growth. Let’s discuss some protein-packed vegan foods to add to your shopping list. 

1. Nuts/Nut Butters

If you’re in a hurry, pack a quick snack of your favorite nuts. Unsalted or raw nuts are typically healthier than the salted and roasted varieties. Or try one of these vegan peanut butters to pack alongside an apple, celery, or any healthy food you desire.

2. Spirulina

Smoothies are a great way to add servings of fruits and vegetables to your diet by adding vegan protein powder to smoothies. Next time, consider adding spirulina to your smoothie. It's nutrient-rich, has four grams of protein per serving, and has many proven health benefits.

3. Tofu/Soybeans

Tofu is another protein-packed food made from soy. It contains 10 grams of protein per serving. The internet has plenty of great vegan tofu recipes to try, including tofu tacos and buffalo wings. It requires some meal prep, but you can always cook ahead and heat the leftovers.

Edamame is another great snack to try that can be prepared in many different ways. Most grocery stores even offer edamame dip.

4. Beans 

Beans are full of protein and are a favorite protein alternative for vegans. Prepare a bean salad for lunch or snack; it lasts three to four days in the refrigerator.

Roasted chickpeas are another delicious, convenient snack that's high in protein. You can roast them with your favorite flavors and seasonings, to diversify your tastebuds. 

5. Hemp/Chia Seeds

Hemp seeds are not only protein-packed but also are a great source of vitamin E. You can eat them raw or cooked. 

Add chia seeds to your morning breakfast routine or afternoon snack. They make a wonderful main ingredient in chia pudding or homemade granola bars.

6. Quinoa

Quinoa has all the essential amino acids found in animal protein. Besides its high protein content, quinoa has five grams of fiber per serving. There are several tasty quinoa dishes available on the internet to try, like kale quinoa salad.

7. Wild Rice

Wild rice has more protein than regular white or brown rice. One cup of wild rice contains seven grams of protein. So next time you prepare a rice dish, opt for wild rice instead.

8. Ezekiel Bread

Usually found in the freezer section of the grocery store, Ezekiel bread is another protein-rich vegan food. Ezekiel bread is also rich in fiber and B vitamins. To add an extra serving of protein, spread some vegan nut butter over your bread.

Always make sure that you are consuming your daily requirements of nutrients and protein when you make the switch to a vegan diet. As mentioned before, there are several vegan protein alternatives to animal meat. So try some of these tasty vegan foods today!

About the Author:

Amanda Marten FNP-C, MSN has been a certified nurse practitioner for over three years. With eight years of nursing experience, she has worked in a variety of specialties including urgent care, travel nursing, post-surgical, and intensive care.

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FDA. Daily Value and Supplement Facts 

Healthline. 10 Health Benefits of Spirulina 

Healthline. 6 Benefits of Hemp Seeds 

Healthline. Why Refined Carbs are Bad 

Health Research Institute. All About Carbohydrates 

Mayo Clinic. Are You Getting Too Much Protein? 

National Library of Medicine. Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health


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