If you’re transitioning toward a plant-based diet, but you’re worried about getting enough protein, don’t be. You might be surprised to know that just about everything has protein — fruits, veggies, grains… even green salads. So whether you’re simply looking to eat less meat or go full-time veg, there are plenty of delicious ways to beef up a meal with healthy vegetarian protein.
The simplest way is to think of any dish where you would normally add meat or poultry (soups, pasta, salads, etc.), and just swap out the meat and replace it with your favorite beans or lentils. I’m always looking for a fast and easy solution, so that’s my go-to.
You can also sprinkle some nuts or seeds over any dish from breakfast bowls and morning toasts to salads and grains. Either way, nuts and seeds add amazing flavor and heart-healthy fats to any meal.
Also read: Vegetarian Protein Charts and Sample Meals
6 Easy Substitutions for Meat
1. In place of chicken, hearty-up a salad with a healthy dose of garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas) and throw in some kalamata olives for a nice punch of flavor. Sprinkle sunflower or sesame seeds over the top for crunch.
2. Satisfy a burger craving with a bean burger or some yummy felafel (usually made from chickpeas). These veggie versions are just as hearty as a beef burger, but with way more fiber and only a fraction of the fat and cholesterol.
3. Instead of adding chopped meat or sausage to pasta dishes, stir the sauce with white beans (I like cannellini, great northern, and butter beans). It tastes amazing!
4. Hearty soups and stews are a perfect way to get some bean protein. And instead of croutons, I love to sprinkle almonds or hazelnuts over the top just before I serve it. The nuts don’t just add crunch – they also pack some major flavor.
5. Black, pinto, or kidney beans are the obvious choice for a veggie burrito or taco, but any bean will taste great. You can also swap out the sour cream for guacamole to keep it vegan.
6. Lentils pack a ton of protein and are not only crazy delicious; they’re also incredibly versatile. For added flavor, cook them in veggie broth instead of water and toss in some sautéed onions or garlic. Serve them over quinoa, brown rice, or any whole grain, then add your favorite vegetables.
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