Vegans, vegetarians and others who seek out non-meat protein sources have plenty of choices. Nature provides what the body requires so you don’t need to look far for your daily dose of protein. There are dozens of delicious, well-balanced sources of dietary protein for those who take the time to look. Here are five perennially popular non-meat options that pack a pretty powerful protein punch:
You can get soy in a variety of forms, from barely processed to highly refined powders. One of the most popular, and easiest to prepare, forms of soy protein is tofu. There are several fermented versions of soy that are quite popular in Asia but have hardly made a dent in the Western culinary market. As an all-around source of non-meat protein, tofu is probably the best bet. If you’re especially interested in getting as much protein as possible in a serving, choose tofu that’s firm. The soft stuff contains more air and not as much protein. Here’s the bonus; firm tofu contains about 24 grams of protein in a one-cup serving.
Quinoa doesn’t have as much protein as tofu does but it’s still a favorite of non-meat eaters who want nutrition, taste and protein, and is an absolute vegan essential. One cup of quinoa carries about 8 grams of pure protein but that’s not the whole story of this amazing food. It’s such an all-around nutrient champ that it’s one of the few foods NASA grows on the International Space Station.
In addition to a generous dose of protein, quinoa has manganese, iron, fiber and magnesium. It’s equally versatile in the kitchen because you can add it into just about any dish for a protein or general nutrition boost. It works especially well in casseroles, cookies, muffins, breads and fritters. The kicker is that it tastes great and is inexpensive.
This recipe came from the Bible but has been around in several cultures for much longer than those sources would suggest. What’s so great about it? For starters, it’s made primarily from sprouted grains and is packed with vitamins and fiber. For the protein-conscious, just two slices of Ezekiel bread deliver a full eight grams of protein.
A popular pairing for protein power is Ezekiel bread with plant-based offerings like Gardein chicken strips. The bread brings its own high dose of protein to the table while the strips are a wholesome, non-GMO food source that includes its own list of grains like millet, quinoa and oats. That means lots of protein but no meat or dairy, all packaged in a delicious, filling sandwich.
The old standard is packed with protein, bringing 15 full grams of the nutrient in just two tablespoons. For the health-conscious, shop carefully when you want to get the best peanut butter. Read labels and opt for products that contain nothing more than peanuts and maybe a tiny bit of sugar.
Two tablespoons of hemp seeds pack in the protein, to the tune of 11 grams. But there’s also calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron along for the ride. Hemp seeds make a great addition to salads and soups too. They have a nutty, fresh taste that also adds a nice flavor to just about any kind of cookie.