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No Meat? Where Do You Get Your Protein?

No Meat? Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Ask anyone who eats plant-based about the number one question they get. Chances are they will roll their eyes and say, “Where do you get your protein?”

As a plant-based eater, here is the short answer: Everywhere!

High-quality protein without any saturated fat is available in many foods. The belief that a person needs to eat meat to be strong is rapidly changing, thanks to documentaries such as “The Game Changers” and professional athletes like Venus Williams and Olympic medalist Carl Lewis.

While there are meat and dairy substitutes available at grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, I recommend cooking with whole, plant-based foods. For a general rule of thumb, listen to Michael Pollan:

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother would not recognize as food.”

Soy Leghemoglobin? Carrageenan? Methylcellulose? I’ll take a pass.

Some of the highest protein amounts are in foods I consider to be the basics – beans and whole grains.

Think internationally; here, you have the start of many protein-rich combinations. Chickpeas for Chana Masala, black beans for Gallo Pinto, kidney beans for chili. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or whole-grain pasta. Vegetables and even fruit contain protein! To round out the list, nuts and seeds are also a great source - best used sparingly due to their fat content.

Here are some great protein sources:

Beans – lentils, split peas, lima beans, cannellini beans

Whole Grains – quinoa, gluten-free oats, spelt

Vegetables – brussels sprouts, corn, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus

Fruits – avocado, blueberries, apricots

Nuts – almonds, cashews, walnuts

Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, flax

You don’t need to spend a lot of time cooking.

Breakfast can be organic almond butter on whole-grain toast with a banana, or oatmeal with fruit and almond milk.

Lunch and dinner options include a stir-fry with vegetables over brown rice; whole-grain pasta with jarred sauce and a salad with beans and veggies; black beans over quinoa with sautéed peppers and onion on a flour tortilla.

I’ve found that using your old familiar recipes and just swapping out the meat with one of the above protein sources is quite satisfying!

Chili is just as delicious without meat if you add additional beans! My husband grew up eating his mother’s sloppy joe recipe, but when I subbed lentils for the ground beef and kept the sauce, he said it was excellent. It had the flavor he remembered - it was just as yummy. Of course, her recipe included oil and salt, which I’ve eliminated with no detected difference.

Below is the Recipe:

Lentil Sloppy Joe BBQ Sauce

1 cup brown or green lentils

2/3 cup low sodium ketchup

1 small green pepper, chopped small 3 TB Worcestershire sauce (vegan)

1 small onion, chopped small ½ tsp chili powder

2 stalks celery, chopped small ½ cup water


Cook lentils according to package directions. In a large skillet with a small amount of water, cook vegetables until soft, adding more water if they start to stick – 1 Tb at a time. Mix all BBQ sauce ingredients together. When lentils are done and vegetables are soft, mix together in the skillet with the sauce. Cook until thickened, as you like it. Serve on whole-wheat buns, over baked potatoes, or whatever you enjoy.

Written by Chris B., a Peter Rubi customer who is passionate about sharing her experience eating plant-based!