Protein is essential for a healthy diet, whether you are trying to lose weight or build muscle and there are plenty of non-meat sources of protein. Not everyone wants to eat the obvious sources like chicken, beef, pork and so on. Whether for ethical reasons or not, here are some fantastic alternatives to get more protein into your diet. Enjoy each of these non-meat sources of protein at every meal.
Chickpeas are a godsend and one of the most delicious non-meat sources of protein. They can add protein to nearly any meal from salads to pies. Chickpeas can be bought tinned, which makes them cheap, quick and easy to cook. They also contain fibre and other essential vitamins.
A type of pulse, lentils can be added to a lot of meals. They come in a variety of colours, are easy to cook and store, and tend to improve a lot of dishes without overwhelming the flavour or texture. They are also high in fibre and protein, containing on average 18g of protein per cup! Add them to stews and pies and cut back on the fatty meat.
Quinoa is a powerhouse of vitamins, essential amino acids and protein, containing on average 8g of protein per cup. The grain is easy to cook, can be packed full of flavour and can be used in many savoury dishes. You can sub out rice for it to make a healthy stir-fry, or use it as a staple in your lunch box.
Most beans are packed full of protein and fibre. Sadly, I don’t mean baked beans in tomato sauce, as these are usually full of salt. Get other varieties of beans, such as kidney, pinto, lima and edamame. They can be cooked and served as a tasty side to nearly any savoury meal.
Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios can be a great way to add a little more protein to snack breaks! Assuming you’re not allergic, be careful not to go overboard as these can be high in salt.
Spinach is fantastic. It's full of protein, low in fat and even lower in cholesterol! Spinach contains loads of essential vitamins, such as iron. It can be added to most savoury dishes as it wilts down to nothing, giving that health boost without overwhelming the flavour.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are called a ‘superfood’ for a good reason. The little seeds are packed full of protein, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and loads of your required daily vitamins. You can add a few teaspoons of these to nearly anything for that health boost. That includes granola, pudding, smoothies or salads.
8. Peanut Butter
A childhood favourite! Peanut butter is not always vegan, but the delicious paste is full of protein. Peanut butter can be used in baking for some tasty vegan desserts, or put on a sandwich for a traditional snack. Be cautious when buying the low-fat variety, as these could contain loads of sugar. Always check the label.
The most obvious alternative for meat, tofu is full of protein and can be packed full of flavour. Tofu is incredibly bland on its own, so try leaving it to marinate and absorb some wonderful spices, and sub out the meat in your stir-fry or burgers with it.
While not vegan, eggs are a fantastic source of nutrients. Eggs are packed with protein, nutrients and healthy fats. An omelet is a healthy way to start your day, and eggs can be incorporated into most meals.
Cheese is one of those foods that can instantly improve nearly any meal, which is fantastic as it is also rich in protein, calcium and other essential nutrients. The protein content will vary according to the type of cheese, but this is what makes cheese so versatile.
Not all vegetarians will avoid seafood, but if you have no ethical objections, seafood is low in fat and packed full of fibre. Seafood also contains loads of omega-3s, which we now know have loads of health benefits. Fish makes a wonderful savoury staple, but be careful not to go overboard on the salt!
Like most sources of dairy, milk contains the essential protein and other nutrients such as calcium. Calcium is essential for strong, healthy bones. Try making a smoothie with fruits, veggies and milk for a great and healthy breakfast.
As another source of dairy, yoghurt is full of calcium and protein and can make for a tasty, healthy snack. Be cautious though, as chocolate mousse won’t have the same health benefit as low-fat Greek yoghurt. Remember to always check the label.