12 Ways to Get Protein Without Eating Meat

By Brittany Nelson, Corporate Wellness Supervisor

Midwesterners love their meat—especially in Indiana. We often see it as an easy source of protein, but don’t forget it’s not the only way to get those vital nutrients.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we consume nutrient-dense protein sources, including various types of meat and plant-based proteins. Why are plant-based sources recommended for protein? Plant-based sources of protein are heart-healthy and often contain zero fat. They are packed full of fiber as well as nutrients such as potassium, iron and zinc. Plant-based proteins can be easily included in your meals through simple recipe modifications and meal planning. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate plant-based proteins into your day.

  • Add seasoned black, pinto or kidney beans to your salads.
  • Grab a can of black beans, rinse thoroughly and mash them up with lean 90/10 ground beef to make your burgers a little heart-healthier.
  • Grab a can of chickpeas and find a recipe you like to make hummus.
  • Grab nuts and seeds (i.e. walnuts, almonds, flax and chia seeds) when they’re on sale. Add them to yogurt, cereal and smoothies.
  • Make your own protein-packed granola bars using nut butter with various nuts and seeds.
  • Add extra beans to soups and chilis.
  • Rinse canned lentils and add to cooked sweet potatoes. Season with curry and pepper for a great meal!
  • Check out some ways to roast chickpeas for a less processed and higher protein salty snack.
  • Look up different ways to substitute quinoa for rice in Asian and Mexican entrees and desserts.
  • Use nut butters like peanut, almond and sunflower butters on toast in the morning.
  • Keep nuts at your desk for a healthy snack. Add a measuring spoon to your bag to help stick to the recommended serving size.
  • Look up ways to add tofu to egg scramblers or burgers. This is a great way to decrease the amount saturated fat coming from other additions such as bacon, sausage and beef.