Ask Erika: New Vegan Family Needs Protein


Dear Erika,

I’m new to this whole vegan thing. I’ve read so much about soy being a great source of protein. I don’t even know where to start. Do you have any suggestions on how to add it to my seven-year-old son’s diet?

—Amy, Dallas, TX

Dear Amy,

First off, congratulations! It’s always exciting to talk to newbies! I’m a proponent of simple foods. Stick to whole soy foods, such as soybeans, soy nuts, tofu, or tempeh. Fermented soy, such as miso, can have a large amount of salt. More processed soy, such as soy patties or nuggets, also can have a lot of added salt and sugar.

Another option is to drink your soy. While I prefer the taste of almond milk, soymilk is a great animal milk replacement with tons of protein and good fats. Make sure that you look for Vitamin D fortified soymilk! Tofu is so versatile! To start, just buy firm tofu, drain, and cube it. You can use any of your favorite marinades, such as BBQ, and add it to recipes as you would cubed chicken. Then go check out all the amazing tofu recipes on this site for more! Here’s a great one for Nooch-Crusted Tofu (“nooch” is a slang term for nutritional yeast which has a cheesy, nutty flavor and can be found at health food stores).

My favorite way to get my soy on? Straight up, soybeans! They can sometimes be hard to find fresh, but it’s easy in the frozen section. I buy them flash frozen, still in the pod; just boil for 6-8 minutes and serve warm. My kids love squeezing out the beans. Who doesn’t love food that entertains?


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Disclaimer: Erika Krebs is not a nutritionist, registered dietitian, nor medical doctor. The information on is based on each columnist’s own training, research through reading and talking with other like-minded individuals, and personal experiences eating plant-based, vegan, and raw foods. The material appearing on is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any or all changes to your diet and lifestyle should always first be discussed with your professional healthcare providers. assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting directly or indirectly from any action or inaction you take based on the information found on or material linked to on this website.

Posted in Advice Columns, Ask Erika

Erika is a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, lifestyle columnist, and a mom of three. She is the author of “Fresh Start: Farm to Table Plant Based Baby Recipes.” Erika is working on a new cookbook that focuses on fun, healthy, plant-based, toddler meals. Find out more about her work at Send Erika your questions at