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10 Best Ways to get Extra Protein Without Eating Meat

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Learn 10 ways to get extra protein without eating meat
get extra protein without eating meat

A lot of people are now leaning toward plant-based diets. And I agree that vegetarian way of eating can be a very healthy style of eating. But, when someone tries to minimize meat, they get concerned about protein intake.

How am I going to get extra protein without eating meat?

Well, first, we need to understand what being a vegetarian means. A vegetarian is someone who avoids all types of meat, whether it be hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, or even fish. Vegetarians are also sometimes classified by the type of food they are or aren’t willing to eat. For example, Lacto-ovo vegetarians will avoid animal flesh, yet they may eat eggs and most dairy products. A Vegan, on the other hand, will avoid all food that has any trace of animal origin (including dairy.)

You do not have to eat meat to meet your daily protein requirements. There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests that replacing animal proteins with more plant-based proteins can benefit your health [1]. Remember, you don’t have to be vegetarian to be healthy, but a vegetarian style of eating may be another healthy way of eating.

Here are 10 ways to get extra protein without eating meat:

These options are vegetarian foods that are high in protein and heart-healthy too.


Legumes are an inexpensive protein choice and are high in fiber and a source of iron. Beans, peas, and lentils are all types of legumes. Vegetables such as beans and other legumes are an important source of protein. They are a key food in healthy diets and have many benefits. A daily serving helps to lower your cholesterol level and counts toward your daily 5 servings per day. You can eat them directly or add them to sauces, soups, and salads.

Legume - get extra protein without eating meat
LegumesPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Baked Beans1 cup38214
Chickpeas (Goya)1 cup24012
Red Kidney Beans (without salt, cooked, boiled)1 cup22515
Cooked Lentils1 cup32316
Amount of calories and protein in various legumes (


Unlike other legumes, soya beans are a complete protein, comparable in quality with animal protein, but are low in fat and contain fiber and iron. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agrees that 25 grams per day of soy protein may reduce the risk of heart disease. The Health benefits of soy products may be due to their high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and low saturated fat content.

Soybean - get extra protein without eating meat
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on
SoybeanPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Tofu4 ounce9510
Soy Milk (unsweetened)1 cup807
Soybean, Edamame1 cup25422
Amount of calories and protein in Soy Derivatives (


Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a hearty, protein-rich seed considered by many to be a whole grain. A “whole grain” contains all of the original parts of the grain or seed, making it a healthier and more complete food than refined or processed grain. Quinoa is gluten-free, and the flour is a good substitute for wheat flour. Quinoa is rich in protein. It has almost twice the amount of protein found in oats, as well as a bit more fiber and iron. Quinoa is a complete protein. This means that it contains all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) that your body needs but cannot make on its own.

Quinoa - get extra protein without eating meat
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QuinoaPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Quinoa (cooked)1 cup2228
Amount of calories and protein in Quinoa (


Eating nuts as part of a healthy diet may be good for the heart. Nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients. They provide a good amount of protein in a handful and are packed with fiber. One drawback to nuts is that some may be high in calories, so it’s important to limit portions. But choosing nuts instead of a less healthy snack may just help you stick to a heart-healthy diet. Stick to a handful per day.

Nuts - get extra protein without eating meat
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NutsPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Peanuts (unsalted, dry roasted)1 ounce1628
Hazelnuts1 ounce1784.2
Walnuts1 ounce1502.4
Almonds1 ounce1636
Cashews1 ounce1575.2
Pecans1 ounce1044.4
Pistachios1 ounce1606
Amount of calories and protein in Nuts (


Like nuts, seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats and protein. They can be easily added to salads and pasta, or you can eat them plain as a simple snack.

Seeds - get extra protein without eating meat
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SeedsPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Sunflower Seeds1 ounce1655.5
Pumpkin Seeds1 ounce803
Amount of calories and protein in Seeds (

Cereals and grains

All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals, but whole grains — the healthiest kinds of grains — in particular, are an important part of a healthy diet. They also have protein. Wholegrain bread, rice, and pasta have more protein, fiber, and iron than white versions. Brown rice with beans, or bread with hummus or nut butter, can give you as much protein as a piece of meat.

Cereal and Grain - get extra protein without eating meat
Photo by Tomasz Filipek on
Cereals and grainsPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Whole Wheat Bread2 slices1588.3
Wholegrain Brown Rice4 ounces41611.3
Rolled Oats1 cup34012
Cheerios Oats & Honey1 cup1685.6
Amount of calories and protein in Cereals and Grain (


Like soya, Quorn is a complete protein. It is made from an edible fungus and has a meat-like texture. It is a source of protein that is high in fiber and low in saturated fat. It contains more fiber than an equivalent portion of baked beans, wholemeal bread, or brown rice. It is sold in a variety of ways. Monitor salt contents in each variety.

quorn - get extra protein without eating meat
QuornPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Quorn Chik’n Nuggets4 nuggets1909
Quorn Vegan Spicy Patties1 patty1207
Amount of calories and protein in Quorn (


Milk, yogurt, and cheese are great sources of protein and also contain calcium to keep our bones healthy. Choosing lower-fat or fat-free dairy options as these options will help reduce your saturated fat intake without compromising on protein or calcium. Here are some dairy options that have high protein.

dairy - get extra protein without eating meat
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DairyPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
0% Plain Greek Yogurt8 ounce13022
Fat-Free Cottage Cheese1/2 cup8013
1% Low fat Milk1 cup1008
Amount of calories and protein in Dairy (


Seitan is also known as wheat gluten, wheat protein, and wheat meat. It is made from gluten, which is the main protein in wheat. Seitan is made by washing the starch away from wheat flour, leaving strands of gluten. Seitan is a meat-free option often used to mimic the texture of animal-based meat. It has no taste, so that it can be a good addition to any meal.

Seitan - get extra protein without eating meat
SeitanPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Chipotle Style Seitan3 ounce15023
Seitan Strips1/3 cup9022
Amount of calories and protein in Seitan (

Meal Replacement

A meal replacement is designed as a substitute, an alternative for solid foods, such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Usually, comes in the form of nutrition bars and drinks, these meal replacements are created to be as nutritious as any regular meal, but without the added calories. Meal replacements were initially designed to save food preparation time for people always on the go, especially athletes.

Valley Forge Weight Management Center offers a variety of meal replacements in the form of protein shakes, bars, entrees, desserts, drinks, and snacks.

Egg-Free Protein Products from our online store.

Meal Replacements - get extra protein without eating meat
Meal Replacement
Meal ReplacementsPortion SizeCaloriesGrams of Protein
Protein Bars1 bar16015
Protein Shakes1 shake10015
Amount of calories and protein in Meal Replacements (


  1. Mullins AP, Arjmandi BH. Health Benefits of Plant-Based Nutrition: Focus on Beans in Cardiometabolic Diseases. Nutrients. 2021; 13(2):519.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. These articles are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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