For many people, low carb, high protein means lots of meat, cheese, fish, and eggs; easy low carb protein sources that are generally tasty and satisfying. The only issue is that many of these typical low carb, high protein foods are not an option for vegans or vegetarians. Adequate protein consumption can be difficult with these types of diets in general, and especially difficult for those attempting to follow a high protein, low carb diet. With that being said, there are plenty of great vegan and vegetarian protein sources that either are or can be made low carb.
The most commonly used protein substitute in vegan and/or vegetarian diets is tofu. Tofu is a great low carb, high protein meat alternative – one half cup contains approximately 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, and bonus, a ton of fiber. Tofu can be incorporated into meals in a variety of creative ways – in smoothies, stir fry, a breakfast scramble, and on top of salads or soups. It can also be baked, fried, blended, or served raw.
Yoghurt is a great protein source for breakfast or snacks. Greek yoghurt is especially high in protein, and there are lots of yoghurt options in stores with added protein. Some single serving yoghurts have up to 20 grams of protein with very little sugar. Add some nuts or low carb granola for a more complete meal. Vegans could consider coconut, cashew, or almond milk yoghurts, and even add some vegan protein powder for some extra protein as an alternative to dairy yoghurts.
Another high protein food that is often not considered as a protein source, is cheese. Although this is not an option for those following vegan diets, for vegetarians, it can be a great quick high protein snack or way to bump up protein content of meals. Feta, goat cheese, and cottage cheese are lower calorie options, whereas hard cheeses and higher fat cheeses like brie are higher calorie and also extremely high protein.
Beans/legumes are hit or miss, they often have plenty of protein but also lots of carbs. If beans are your protein source for a meal, have them also be the only carb (for example, skip the rice). Edamame are lower carb, and lentils are high in protein. Nuts are another one to watch out for, because although high in protein, they are also often higher in carbs. Peanuts and almonds are going to give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to nuts and protein. Seeds are another great way to boost protein without a ton of extra work. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled on top of salads or put into smoothies, with 25 grams of protein and 4 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup.
If you’re working on low carb/high protein and are also vegan or vegetarian, these tips are a great start, but consider getting a cookbook specifically designed for this type of diet. Also, feel free to talk with your provider on how to master a diet that meets your dietary restrictions while making sure you're getting the nutrients you need! There are plenty of people trying to figure out how to maintain this diet and tons of creative ideas out there. Have fun with it!