Meatless Protein Options

If you are new to plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan eating, you may be wondering what your options are when it comes to meatless substitutes. When I first cut meat out of my diet, I had no idea what tofu was. This article will break down meatless protein options and what dishes go best with each option. 

 

Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

There are a variety of ways to prepare Chickpeas. If you’ve ever had hummus, you’ve had Chickpeas. Hummus is nothing more than the legume, spices, and oil. Chickpeas can also be made into Falafel (see next) or simply roasted and tossed into a salad.

Serving size: 1 ounce

Calories: 46

Carbs: 8 grams

Protein: 3 grams

Fiber: 2 grams 

Other nutrients: folate, iron, phosphorus, copper, & manganese. 

 

Falafel

Falafel is made up of garbanzo beans, tahini, spices, and pita. It is common in Mediterranean dishes. Falafel can be baked or fried. Stick to baked if you are looking for a healthier option. 

Serving size: 100 grams 

Calories: 333

Carbs: 32 grams 

Protein: 13 grams

Fiber: 4.9 grams 

Other nutrients: Vitamin B6, copper, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, zinc, and more. 

 

Tofu

Tofu may be the most intimidating of all the meatless protein options. However, it may be the most versatile. Before you knock it, try it in a variety of ways. Tofu is most common in Asian dishes. It is processed in almost the same way that cheese is. It is made of soy milk and known as bean curd. 

Serving size: 115 grams 

Calories: 88

Carbs: 2.2 grams 

Protein: 9 grams

Fiber: 1 gram

Other nutrients: manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, & zinc. 

 

Lentils 

This legume is an excellent source of Fiber, meaning they are easy to digest. They are known to benefit gut health and reduce blood sugar. 

Serving size: 198 grams 

Calories: 230 

Carbs: 2.5 grams 

Protein: 17.9 grams

Fiber: 15.6 grams

Other nutrients: folate (vitamin B9), manganese, copper, and thiamine (vitamin B1).

 

Tempeh 

Tempeh is a traditional Javanese soy product made from fermented soybeans. It is known for its nutty flavor and versatility, much like tofu. 

Serving size: 84 grams 

Calories: 162

Protein: 15 grams

Carbs: 16 grams 

Other nutrients: iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and more. 

 

Edamame

This is nothing more than an immature soybean still in the pod. The pods are typically steamed or boiled and served as an appetizer at most Japanese restaurants. You will likely find Edamame in the freezer section of the grocery store.

Serving size: 155 grams 

Calories: 189

Carbs: 15 grams 

Protein: 17 grams

Fiber: 8 grams

Other nutrients: Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin B-6, and more. 

 

Hemp Seed

Because hemp seeds are high in magnesium, they are a recommended food item to those who struggle with heart issues. Hempseeds are also high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are an excellent substitute for overnight oats, blended into smoothies, or enjoyed alone.

Serving size: 20 grams 

Calories: 111 

Carbs: 1.7 grams

Protein: 6.3 grams 

Fiber: 1 gram

Other nutrients: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and more.