Protein is one of the most critical nutrients that our body needs to function healthily. It forms the building blocks of many cells, so we need it to grow different tissues and become strong and healthy. However, most people get their protein from meat, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a lot of research suggesting that cutting down on meat consumption is a good idea.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you are already reducing your meat consumption to the point that you no longer eat it at all. Therefore, it’s good to find some alternative protein sources that you can add to your meals. Also, if you’re a meat-eater that wants to cut down on how much meat you eat, finding these different protein sources will be beneficial for the meat-free days you decide to have.
Keeping all of this in mind, here are three of the best meat-free protein sources:
Chickpeas are an excellent protein source as a regular serving of half a tin will give you almost as much protein as some meats will. Plus, this is a highly affordable item that can be used in so many different meal ideas and dishes. A lot of people will blend up or mash chickpeas with other ingredients to create burger patties that can be fried or baked for some tasty meatless burgers. Or, they work extremely well as the protein source in a variety of stews or Indian curries. You can have them cold as well in sandwiches and wraps – there’s no end to the chickpea recipe ideas.
Like chickpeas, lentils are relatively cheap and provide a good protein punch per serving. There are different types of lentils, with Puy, green, and red being the most popular. You can buy them dry or pre-cooked depending on your preference, and they have so many uses in meals. There are loads of great Indian lentil recipes around that will have you using this legume in curries and dals. Additionally, many people substitute minced beef for lentils in dishes like bolognese, chili, or lasagne. You can use lentils in cold salads as well, and they can even be used to make a tasty stew or soup.
There are so many different varieties of beans out there that you can add to your meals for a big hit of protein. While all beans are definitely worthy of having a look at, these are some of the most popular and diverse ones to use:
- Black beans
- Cannellini beans
- Haricot beans
- Pinto beans
- Edamame beans
Depending on the bean you choose, it can form part of a plethora of recipes. Black beans work well as a meat replacement in many Mexican dishes, Cannellini beans are wonderful in Italian stews or pasta, and edamame beans are excellent additions to Asian-inspired stir-fries or rice dishes.
If you want to modify how much meat you are consuming, look for alternative ways to meet your protein needs. These three options are exceptional as they provide lots of protein plus many other nutritional benefits. Oh, and they’re all cheap to buy, easy to find, and can be used in a variety of recipes.