The detrimental effects meat has on human health and the environment have been propounded by many, which is why many people are now choosing to eat less meat. But since meat is a common source of protein, it needs to be replaced with alternative sources of protein in low-meat, vegetarian, or vegan diets. Here’s a list of five tasty foods that do the trick.
With about 7.5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, beans are a protein-rich and healthy food for any diet. These little legumes, recommended by Greatist are also full of fiber and magnesium and are low in cholesterol. They can be used in a variety of recipes – the sheer variety of chili recipes is in itself a testament to their versatility!
Lentils provide 9 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving and are packed with folate, iron, potassium and antioxidants. They are even linked to anti-inflammatory effects. Almost as versatile as beans, lentils come in red and green varieties, and are incredibly tasty in the classic pea soup.
Natto provides a whopping 15.5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. Although this traditional Japanese food is not as common or well-known as other protein sources, it is derived from fermented soybeans and resembles kidney beans. Try it at a Japanese restaurant before you cook it on your own – Natto has a strong love-me-or-leave-me flavor!
Quinoa is a superfood that is popular as a source of both carbohydrates and protein. It is a small seed that is the only kind that provides all nine essential amino acids people need in their diets. Quinoa is also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese. Most Quinoa originates from Bolivia & Peru; be sure you’re purchasing fairly traded product.
Much adored by vegetarians and vegans alike, tempeh is a source of protein that provides 11 grams per 1/2 cup serving. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is similar to tofu in taste and texture. It tastes a little bit nutty and sweet and can even be consumed uncooked.
One of the most well-known sources of protein that is not meat-based, tofu comes with 7 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. The spongy texture of tofu makes it especially good for replacing meat in recipes, and the food tends to absorb flavors very well. There are many varieties, from silken tofu used in desserts to firm tofu used in stir-fry and more!
Never heard of it? Seitan is an underrated wonder as a source of meatless protein. It is made of wheat gluten (so unfortunately, this food doesn’t work with gluten-free diets), and is very similar to tofu, except that it has a slightly chewier texture. A fun addition to stir-fry!
Surprise! With 7.9 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, green peas are another great source of protein for those who choose not to eat meat. Peas are an extremely versatile food that fits into a variety of different recipes, from casseroles to fresh green salads.
Even if you’re not planning on going vegetarian any time soon, these tasty and protein-rich wonders are a healthy and nutritious addition to your regular diet. So go on. Embrace Meatless Mondays. Invite your vegan friends over. You won’t regret it!