There are some great plant-based protein options out there. Of course, this is also perfect if you are going meatless for one day per week or are just looking for some protein alternatives to change up your meal plans and dinner routines.
Despite popular belief, it isn’t all that hard to fill your protein requirements as a vegetarian and even vegan. All of these dishes can easily be made vegan.
Let’s start with legumes. Beans, peas, lentils and other similar foods contain quite a bit of protein and make a great addition to the meals. They are also wonderful if you’re working with a small portion of meat. Add a cup of cooked beans to fill you up and get to your daily protein requirements. Mix the veggies with the meat, eggs or fish and tasty herbs. Combined, they form a complete protein and provide your body with everything it needs from one meal.
Tofu is another great option. Soy in general is very versatile. You can cut up firm tofu, marinate it and either grill it or chop it up and use it in stir fries, soups, and stews. Soft tofu is a great addition to smoothies and you can even turn it into a sort of tofu pudding by blending it with a bit of liquid and some flavorings.
If you like tofu, or opt for soy milk over dairy, you may have questions about the health effect of soy. However, there seem to be more questions than answers about the role soy plays in women’s bodies, especially when it comes to menopause and breast cancer. So far there are no proven effects in humans.
Quinoa is another great source of plant protein that has become a lot more popular and available. You cook this grain similar to rice or couscous. Serve it as a protein-rich side dish or use it as the base of your meal adding veggies or additional proteins to make a filling meal.
While most protein powders are dairy based, you can find great vegan options including those made with hemp seeds. Protein powders are generally recognized as safe, although you may experience digestive side effects if you consume large amounts of protein powder. If you're lactose intolerant or otherwise sensitive to lactose, dairy-based protein powder may lead to stomach upset, bloating, and gas. You can use the powder to make protein shakes, include a scoop in your favorite green smoothie recipe, or even cook and bake with it.
Give plant-based protein sources a try. As you can see, you have plenty of options, particularly when you think about the various ways you can incorporate beans and lentils. Mix these with lean meat or use them on their own. Keep trying something new until you have a nice little library of healthy recipes based around various lean protein sources that you can work from.