The Best Protein Alternatives

The Best Protein Alternatives

Believe it or not, the number of people going for a meatless diet is skyrocketing. The driving forces behind this food revolution vary from the higher cost of meat, a shift to a healthier lifestyle, special dietary requirements, and an emerging environmental consciousness. Whatever the reason may be, there's a growing consumer demand for protein alternatives. So, if you're here to know about meatless proteins, check out our list of the best ones you can get.

Why Do I Need to Hit My Protein Intake?

But first, why are proteins important? Proteins are essential for a healthy, balanced diet. Protein plays a crucial role in muscle-building, which helps us avoid injuries and keeps our immune system in mint condition. Basically, protein is a cornerstone for our bodily functions as it serves as a  core element in cell repair, the balance of hormones, and maintaining our body chemicals at adequate levels.

The recommended daily intake (RDA) for protein is 0.8 g per kg of body weight, no matter what the age is.  This can vary based on your fitness level and individual needs. Traditionally, the best source of protein was considered to be animal-based. But with the shift towards meatless, many are learning that you can still get plenty of protein without eating meat. You can consume many protein substitutes that can help you reach the recommended intake without sacrificing taste or nutrition.

Not all proteins are the same. Before we go to the list of protein alternatives, it's vital to know the difference between complete and incomplete proteins. A complete protein means it contains all the nine essential amino acids needed by our body to function well.In terms of protein alternatives that are considered a complete protein, here are the top ones you can eat:

  • Soy
  • Organic Free-Range Eggs
  • Quinoa
  • Hemp hearts 

So, what about incomplete proteins? To ensure you are receiving all of the essential amino acids that your body requires,  you may have to pair some incomplete protein sources together to form a complete protein source. For example, combining beans and spinach form a complete protein. Adapting sources of protein other than meat in your diet can yield more benefits to your health. With less consumption of real meat comes lower health risks. Too much meat consumption can lead to high levels of cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, higher chances to acquire diabetes and even cancer. Shifting away from meat products is made easier with many alternatives listed below.

Protein Alternatives to Keep You Fueled

Free-Range Eggs

1  egg = 6 to 8 grams of protein

Eggs are a staple every morning. Gone are the days when it was considered bad to eat eggs as they were thought to elevate your cholesterol. The truth is, eggs are incredibly nutritious and beneficial. This breakfast favourite contains complete protein and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants essential for our health. Another perk of eating eggs? There are plenty of ways to cook them.

Soy Products

The most popular protein alternative comes from soybeans. Apart from it being rich in protein, your body can benefit from  iron and calcium content in soy. Soybeans are processed in several ways, and here are the byproducts you can add to your meatless diet.

Bean curd or tofu comes from soybean milk which you can purchase in different levels of softness. You can buy it soft, medium or firm. Each variety can be converted into a lot of recipes. They are a little bland on their own, so you can explore adding different sauces, spices, and herbs to them, depending on your preference. Half a cup of tofu has about 10 g of protein.

Tempeh, on the other hand, comes from fermented soybeans. It is denser and drier than tofu making it a better meat alternative. Aside from the texture, tempeh has an umami taste that makes it more delicious for savory dishes. Half a cup of tempeh contains 15 grams of protein, higher than what you can get from tofu. Don’t forget adding fresh soy beans, also known as edamame, to curries, salads, stir frys, and soups. 


1 cup cooked quinoa = 8 grams of protein

Quinoa has all essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. Most people prefer quinoa as one of their meatless proteins since it's packed with fiber, zinc, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, manganese, and thiamine. Quinoa is gluten-free and produces lysine that aids in tissue regeneration. You may use quinoa in various ways, but most consume it with other protein alternatives or as a salad base.

Nuts and nut butters

2 tablespoons = 6 grams of protein

Nuts are great sources of antioxidants, fiber, fat, and protein. That's why health-conscious people choose nuts for snacks or as toppings for different meals. The most common nuts are peanuts, almonds, pistachio, and cashew. 


High-protein vegetables

The best vegan proteins are dark-colored, green leafy vegetables. Consuming vegetables on their own is adequate for your recommended protein intake for the day. You can prepare vegetables in a lot of ways. Eat them raw, blend them into green smoothies or cook them for a warm variety. Which ones are our favorite?

Spinach: Eat spinach like Popeye. A cup of spinach has the same amount of protein you can get from eggs.

Broccoli: Though we hated it when we were kids, broccoli has a special place in our hearts, knowing that it has 5 grams of protein per cup. Plus, it's tasty when combined with vegan dips and stir-fried with soy sauce and garlic.

Kale: A superfood we must not ignore. This high-protein vegetable yields about 2 g of protein per cup. You can prepare it many ways, but the best would be to blend it with fruits to make smoothies or smoothie bowls. You can even make it into tasty kale chips you can snack on anytime.


½ cup cooked beans = 8 grams of protein

Beans are great protein alternatives since they are cheap, nutrient-dense, and very versatile to prepare food with. You can cook  endless methods with beans like making them into dips, burgers, soups, and salads. Beans are mild in flavor, so when you add spices, herbs, and condiments, a whole new dimension of flavours comes to play. Some of the beans we recommend you to stock up on are:

  •         Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans to make hummus and falafel
  •         Kidney beans for that warm chili, stew, or soup. Maybe some Mexican recipes too?
  •         Black beans are best when turned into vegetarian burger patties.
  •         White beans or Cannellini beans are perfect for salads and minestrone.

Green Peas

1 cup = 8 grams of protein

Give peas a chance! Not known by many, but peas are an excellent alternative to animal and soy protein. Apart from protein, peas are rich in vitamin e, vitamin c, and zinc. They are inexpensive and accessible in the grocery store as fresh or frozen. You can make a lot of recipes with peas. They can be eaten as a side dish, pureed into soups, or added to salads. For a new take on peas, turn them into pesto sauce with nuts, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and some cheese.

Chia Seeds

1 tablespoon = 3 grams of protein

Small in size, but chia seeds are a powerhouse for fiber, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are one of the best vegan proteins you can add to any meal. You can use them as toppings for salads, smoothies, sandwiches, or even make them into jams, pudding, and crackers.

Hemp Seeds

1 tablespoon = 4 grams of protein

Like chia seeds, hemp seeds are a nutrient-dense food, making them a beneficial ingredient to meals we prepare. They have high levels of omega 3, which aids in keeping the nervous and cardiovascular system thriving. They are delicious with smoothies, porridge, or when baking healthy desserts.

Going Meatless Does Not Have to Be Boring

No meat? No problem. With the plethora of protein alternatives we have listed, you can never run out of ways to prepare, cook, and eat these ingredients for your next meal. High protein vegan ingredients and other meatless alternatives are great options to meet our recommended intake while having delicious food that keeps us in good shape. Plus, the number of businesses offering vegan foods high in protein is growing, so accessibility now is better than before.  It is projected that the market for plant-based meat will reach $16 billion by 2030, so expect a lot of new choices soon.

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