Getting More Non-Meat Protein Into Your Diet
Some people worry that meatless food is unable to provide the protein necessary for a healthy diet, but rest assured that’s not the case! There are many vegetarian and vegan protein options that are versatile, delicious, and cost-effective. Skip the meat and get more protein in your diet with these powerhouse foods.
Seitan, or “wheat meat,” is a popular protein choice for vegans and vegetarians alike because it closely resembles meat in its look and texture, however it’s made of gluten. And what’s more, it contains about 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces. Look for seitan at your local health foods store and incorporate it in your meals as you would meat: marinate, fry, grill, or sear it.
Soybean products like tofu and tempeh provide a punch of protein at 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces, plus they contain all of the essential amino acids. Tofu is made from pressed bean curds while tempeh is made by pressing cooked and fermented soybeans. Although tofu doesn’t have much innate flavor, it can easily absorb seasonings and other flavors. Tempeh on the other hand has a strong nutty taste, but also absorbs flavors well. Both are very versatile and can be used as a meat substitution in a variety of dishes like burgers, soups, chilis, and salads.
This nutritious legume provides the protein necessary to fuel you all day long. At around 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, lentils are an easy way to get meatless protein. Popular in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes, lentils are low cost and easy to prepare. Create a simple lentil soup or enjoy them in lentil-based pastas or burgers.
Nutritional yeast is just that - nutritional! It’s a form of yeast called saccharomyces cerevisiae that has a cheesy and savory flavor and comes in a flake form. Many people swap out parmesan for nutritional yeast to top their pastas, or even use it as a cheesy popcorn seasoning. At 14 grams of protein per ounce, nutritional yeast is a quick way to add a dash of protein and flavor to many dishes.
Spelt and teff are ancient grains that belong in the same family as einkorn, barley, sorghum, and farro. They both have a high protein content at around 10–11 grams of protein per cooked cup. Spelt contains gluten, but teff is a non gluten option if you have a sensitivity. Incorporate them into your meals as you would rice or wheat: simply cook and season to taste. Although not always found in stores, you can order them online.
Eating a meatless meal does not have to mean eating less protein. With a few mindful replacements you can easily get tons of tasty plant-based protein in your diet. What are your favorite meatless protein options?