You’re at your desk at work. It’s 2 pm and suddenly…it hits. Hunger!
With hours to go before dinner, you need a delicious, plant-based snack that will carry you through the rest of the afternoon.
When you find yourself in need of a snack – at your desk, in the car, or simply at home between meals – turn to foods that are rich in protein. This essential macro-nutrient activates the release of satiety hormones, which initiate more feelings of “fullness” when compared to equal calorie amounts of carbohydrates.
Snacks that are high in protein can also help you reach your daily protein goals. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and many people get much more protein than they actually need. A sedentary adult should aim for a daily protein intake of .4g protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 150-pound woman with a desk job should aim for a very attainable 60g protein per day.
A protein-rich snack or two, along with balanced plant-based meals, will help you take in enough protein and keep your muscles strong and your stomach full.
But what to turn to without hard boiled eggs or beef jerky?
The real question is, what can’t you have, as the protein-rich vegan snack world is vast, and no matter what your taste, there is a perfect food out there to keep tucked in your drawer or bag.
You read that right – you can enjoy chewy, salty, umami jerky even after adopting a plant-based diet.
Commercial vegan jerkies are made from a variety of ingredients, including wheat gluten, tofu, and even mushrooms, and are easy to find even at your local convenience store or big-box grocery store.
Just like traditional meat jerkies, vegan jerkies come in lots of flavors ranging from sweet to spicy and are super high in protein to power you through your afternoon.
Recommended Jerky Products
With most flavors clocking in at about 100 calories and 10g of protein per serving, Primal Strips are an unbeatable bang-for-your-calorie-buck. Available in Hot & Spicy, Texas BBQ, Mesquite Lime, Teriyaki, and my personal favorite, Thai Peanut, Primal Strips offer not only a variety of flavors but are also made from a variety of ingredients.
Some strips are made from seitan, but they also make jerky from soy and mushroom, which means even people with gluten intolerance can enjoy these high-protein strips.
Available in portable, single-serving packs, Stonewall’s Jerquee is another high-protein choice for vegans on the go (or stuck behind the desk). With nine flavors including Country Bacon, BBQ, Mild, Wild, Pepperoni, Pastrami, Spicy, Tandoori, and Teriyaki, you can nosh on a different flavor of jerky every day of the week and still have some leftover.
Each 1.5-ounce packet of Stonewall’s Jerquee contains about 160 calories and 13-14g of protein. That’s nearly a quarter of your daily protein intake in a single tasty snack!
Or Make Your Own Vegan Jerky
While it’s quick and convenient to grab a plant-based jerky from the convenience store, store bought jerkies can be very high in sodium and on the expensive side, which isn’t ideal for your arteries or your wallet.
Luckily, with a little planning and a few simple ingredients, you can make your own meatless jerky at home.
Many commercial vegan jerkies rely on wheat gluten for their jerky base, but DIYing in the comfort of your kitchen means you can get creative with everything from shittake mushrooms to eggplant to cauliflower! For nine meatless jerkies that are delicious, affordable, and easy to make at home, check out the link here.
2. Roasted Legumes
Beans are usually the first protein source that comes to mind when people think of vegans – with black bean burgers, rice and beans, and everything in between; it’s not surprising.
Sure, you could eat plain old beans out of the can, but roasted legumes will give you a vegan protein snack you’ll actually enjoy eating.
When beans, like chickpeas and edamame, are roasted, they become a crunchy, poppable protein that adapts easily to savory and sweet seasonings.
There are plenty of great companies that make tasty legume-based snacks, but if you’ve got a cookie sheet, an oven, and a couple of spices, you can make your own roasted beans for a fraction of the cost.
Recommended Roasted Legume Products
Roasted chickpeas by The Good Bean are the perfect protein snack for all dietary needs – completely vegan-friendly, nut free, soy free, and gluten free, they are a good choice to tuck into your child’s school lunch, where there might be strict rules about allergens that can’t be brought into school.
TGB’s Sea Salt Chickpeas are a timeless classic, but they’re also available in fun flavors like Thai Coconut and Sweet Cinnamon. A one-ounce serving of these roasted chickpeas contains 5g each of protein and fiber, a dynamic duo that will keep you feeling full until dinner.
Made from non-GMO soybeans, Seapoint Farms’ Dry Roasted Edamame is a simple and satisfying snack. Dusted with sea salt and available in a large jar or individually wrapped snack packs, 50g of dry roasted beans contains 200 calories and a whopping 22 grams of heart-healthy protein.
Talk about a vegan protein snack that packs a punch! In addition to a classic sea salt variety, the roasted edamame is also available in a spicy wasabi flavor – if you’re a spice fiend, this is a great and unique snack to keep on hand.
Or Make Your Own Chickpeas at Home
Making roasted chickpeas yourself couldn’t be simpler – not only is it super easy to do, but you can roast a big batch when you have time and take them for snacks throughout the week.
There are three keys to perfect, crunchy chickpeas:
- number one, dry the chickpeas as well as you can – rolling the little legumes between two dish towels tends to produce great results.
- Don’t skimp on the oil you use – while you can cut back on it, it will compromise the crispiness of your chickpeas.
- Lastly, wait to toss with spices and seasonings – tossing them at the beginning of the cooking process can cause them to burn and become bitter.
Read these step-by-step instructions of how to roast chickpeas at home.
3. Nuts & Seeds
Filling and heart-healthy, nuts and seeds are high protein vegan snacks that really go above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to keeping you satisfied, nuts and seeds, especially almonds, have been proven to lower cholesterol and provide healthy fiber and fats in addition to protein.
Available at nearly every convenience and grocery store in every vessel from single-serve packs to huge bulk bins, they are truly a champion of snacks – I always keep a pouch in my purse, just in case.
Recommended Nut & Seed Products
With just a touch of sea salt, Blue Diamond’s roasted almonds keep the sodium in check while knocking it out of the park on flavor. Available in larger bags, as well as single serving packs, each 1-ounce portion of the nuts contains six grams of protein and makes for a filling and satisfying snack. The lightly salted almonds are perfect on their own, but they really shine when mixed with something sweet, like dried cranberries or a tablespoon or two of dark chocolate chips.
I first found David’s roasted pumpkin seeds at my local convenience store, and I’ve been totally hooked ever since. Not only are these seeds a low-carb, high-fiber, and delicious salty vegan protein snack, but a single pouch contains 25g of heart-healthy plant protein. Wow!
Considering I’ve eaten dinners that didn’t have 25g of protein, these little seeds help me make sure I’m reaching all my nutritional requirements for the day. With 290 calories per 2.25-ounce pouch, these make for a very filling snack and are a great choice for when you’re out and about with no time for a real meal.
Or Make Your Own – “Cheesy” Popcorn
Air-popped popcorn is a great low-calorie, fiber-rich snack that’s perfect for the middle of the workday or snuggling up with your favorite movie. However, it’s the combination of popcorn and cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast that makes a protein- and nutrient-rich snack that’s perfect for any time of day.
I know, I know, the phrase “nutritional yeast” doesn’t exactly get your stomach rumbling, but this seasoning deserves a spot in your diet. Tasting like a combination of nutty, cheesy, salty, and a little savory, nutritional yeast also knocks it out of the park nutritionally – just a two tablespoon serving of the stuff is packed with B-vitamins, which are super important to vegans, as well as 8g of protein. Nearly 10 grams of protein, for what is essentially a condiment – nature is amazing.
Sprinkle nutritional yeast on whatever you can find (maybe even your roasted chickpeas!).
In the meantime, check out this butter-free popcorn recipe at Gimme Some Oven for your next movie night.
4. Trail Mix
Trail mix is truly the best of all worlds, proof that the most wonderful things in life come from balance. A little salty from the nuts and seeds, a little sweet from dried fruit and chocolate, trail mix is really a great snack for delivering energy as well as a little dose of luxury during an otherwise dull or trying day.
Additionally, trail mix is perfect for kids and adults of all ages – I loved the stuff when I was a kid at summer camp, making huge bowls of GORP (granola, oats, raisins, and peanuts) for hiking trips, and I love it now as an adult as a little break when I get a case of the afternoons.
Recommended Trail Mix Products
Chock full of omega-rich fruits and nuts, Trader Joe’s Trek Mix includes walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and pistachios combined with sweet, fortified dried cranberries. The added omegas in the cranberries are derived from oils extracted from the cranberries’ own seeds, so a single serving of this trail mix packs in 560mg of omega-3s along with 4g of protein.
Thanks to the energy-giving protein and heart-healthy omega-3 boost, this is a perfect snack to take along on a long hike or bike ride to keep you moving until you can sit down to a meal.
Just because you’re nut-free doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a handful of perfectly sweet and salty trail mix at snacktime! Not only is Enjoy Life’s nut-free trail mix completely free of nuts, soy, dairy, and gluten, but it’s also perfectly sweet from the addition of dried cranberries, raisins, dried apples, and indulgent chocolate chips.
As someone with a huge sweet tooth, I love to enjoy a sweet snack after my lunch, and this mix of seeds, fruits, and chocolate really hits the spot. Plus, each ⅓ cup serving contains 6g of protein, which makes it a smart, yet indulgent, choice to reach for.
Or Making Trail Mix at Home
By shopping in the bulk bin and creating your own trail mix blends to meet your taste and dietary needs, you can not only save big bucks, but you can also control exactly how much sugar and sodium and making their way into your snack.
Many grocery stores have bulk aisles where you can purchase just the amount of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits you need for your recipe, and stores like Whole Foods even have entire bars devoted just to building your perfect trail mix!
While it’s simple enough to toss together a few different kinds of nuts, seeds, and other trail mix ingredients, sometimes it’s nice to go with a tried-and-true recipe.
The Healthy Maven’s trail mix blend is my go-to recipe when I need to replenish my stock of trail mix.
To keep from getting bored with your trail mix, experiment with fun add-ins like dark chocolate, popcorn, and pretzel pieces!
5. Protein Bars
The ultimate and perhaps most ubiquitous high-protein snack of all, a good plant-based protein bar can deliver a hefty dose of satisfying protein while fulfilling your need for something sweet (or in some cases, savory!).
Available at most convenience and grocery stores, protein bars are super easy to find, but there are a few brands of vegan-friendly bars that stand out as the clear winners – as far as both nutrition and taste are concerned.
For a complete list of vegan protein bars we recommend, read this article.
Homemade Protein Bars
As delicious and convenient as protein bars are, they are usually very expensive, coming in at nearly $3.00 each at my local convenience store. By making protein bars at home, you not only control the ingredients, but you can keep costs way, way down while still getting a midday dose of protein.
Making your own protein bars isn’t nearly as difficult as it might sound – in fact, the Huffington Post provides recipes for 12 vegan protein bars that require zero baking, so you can spend less time cooking and more time snacking!
This recipe list includes a bar for every taste, including flavors like white chocolate chip, chocolate-dipped bars with hidden veggies, and banana nut protein bars.
Whether you’re a chocolate lover or not, a sweet lover or not, or have any dietary restrictions, there is bound to be at least one recipe on this list that will work for you.
Protein-Rich Vegan Snacks
While the importance of protein is usually vastly overstated in American culture, it’s no joke that protein can help us stay fuller for longer, which certainly comes in handy at work, school, or out on a long hike.
By choosing plant-based snacks that also pack a hefty dose of protein, you’re not only filling your stomach, but you’re also looking out for your overall health, as well as the health of the planet and the animals we share it with.
Whether you prefer salty snacks, sweet nibbles, or a little mix of both, there’s certainly no shortage of snack options that are low in animal products and high in protein.