Get Meatless Protein with these Healthy Alternatives

Is your diet is in need of a protein boost, but you want to cut out the meat? These herbivore-approved options are what you're looking for

Edamame beans are a fantastic source of protein

Looking for a boost of protein without the meat? Here are some protein-packed choices

When you think of protein, the first foods that come to mind are usually meat, fish and poultry. However, these aren’t the only good sources of this important nutrient.

Legumes (e.g., kidney beans, black beans, lentils and chickpeas) and soy are great alternative sources of protein as well as iron, zinc and fibre. Dietitians recommend replacing meat with vegetable protein at least once or twice a week (one serving is ¾ cup/ 175 mL – about the size of a tennis ball).

The protein in soy is similar to that in red meat. Both offer complete proteins, supplying all of the amino acids the body needs to build and repair tissues. However, the protein in legumes is incomplete and must be paired with nuts, rice or other whole grains to make them complete.

A typical meat-protein serving (such as a chicken breast or burger) supplies about 25 grams of protein. Some meatless proteins come close to this.

To expand your non-meat protein options, try:

  • White beans (instead of noodles) with tomato sauce
  • Veggie burgers
  • Tortillas with vegetables and refried beans
  • Hummus (made with chickpeas) with pita bread

You can also:

  • Add puréed black beans to tomato sauce for a protein boost
  • Add soft tofu to fruit smoothies, and firm tofu to salads or stir-fries
  • Snack on edamame (green soybeans) – available in the frozen foods section

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.