There’s no doubt people are more and more interested in vegan and vegetarian diets these days. Because I consider myself a flexitarian (aka someone who eats primarily vegetarian but occasionally eats meat), I’ve learned a lot about plant-based proteins. There seems to be a fear that if you don’t eat meat at all or very seldom that you’re not “getting enough protein.” but that’s actually rarely the case.
If you have a chat with your dietician or just jump online to do some research, there are tons of non-meat protein options – and delicious ones at that! Here are some options to get started with…
Next time you’re out shopping for bread, keep an eye out for the sprouted variety. One slice usually contains as much as 6g of protein! Plus, the ingredient list is usually very short and the words are pronounceable and familiar.
Quinoa has become a classic healthy grain. One of its standout nutrients is protein, so if you’re looking for a healthy carb, give it a go.
Adding seeds like hemp and chia to your diet is super beneficial. Chia seeds are a complete protein (meaning they contain all the nine essential amino acids the body needs and can’t make itself) so they should rank high on your grocery list. You can make delicious chia pudding parfaits with them and also sprinkle hemp seeds on just about anything for extra protein and omega fatty acids.
This is a slightly less common option, but a very healthy one. You can buy spirulina in powder form and add it to smoothies or pretty much any drink you’d like. It’s very nutrient-rich and has 8g of protein per 2 tablespoons.
Soy tends to get a bad wrap, but in moderation it’s actually a great meat substitute (think tofu). It’s also a complete protein, so there are lots of nutrients the body gets from it that are necessary.
If you’re wanting to make a traditional ground beef recipe, try swapping out the meat for lentils. They’re full of fiber, iron and protein – about 9g of protein per half cup. You won’t even miss the red meat, promise.
If you pick up a vegan cookbook, chances are you’ll come across a seitan recipe. Seitan is made out of wheat gluten and spices, so if you have an allergy it’s best to stay away. If not, seitan is yet another complete protein when cooked in soy sauce and has a whopping 21g per ⅓ cup.
Last but certainly not least, one of the most common meat substitutes is beans. From chickpeas to black to pinto to white, most varieties have both high protein and fiber content. Plus they’re very accessible and easy to throw on any meal.
What are your go-to’s for plant-based protein? Would love more suggestions!