No, You Don’t Need Meat for Protein

According to, as an adult female I need a minimum 46 grams of protein per day.  An adult male needs 56 grams.  Along with fat and calories, I keep a close eye on the amount of protein I take in on a daily basis.  As someone who doesn’t eat much meat at all (I only eat seafood now and that’s generally 1-2 times a week at most if at all) it is really important to me that I get enough protein.  Protein helps us to feel fuller longer because it takes longer to digest, which can be beneficial for people who maintain a healthy eating regimen and aim to stay within an ideal weight range or are trying to lose weight.  It also helps with cell growth and repair by breaking down amino acids.  So we definitely need protein daily and a good amount of it.  But the misconception that has been beat into our heads over the years is that we must eat meat to get enough protein…this is simply not true.  There are a variety of vegan and vegetarian sources of protein….some of them having more of it than meats.  And unlike meats and eggs that are often touted as primary protein sources, vegan and vegetarian options often are not high in saturated fats and cholesterol making them healthier choices.  Personally, since I’ve drastically reduced my intake of meat I have noticed fairly significant differences such as it being easier for me to maintain my ideal weight and not feeling bloated everyday as I did when I ate meat daily.  If you have struggled for a while with weight loss…even while exercising and changing up your diet then reducing or eliminating meat may be something you want to consider.  Even starting out doing it once or twice a week to see if you notice a difference may help (ever heard of “Meatless Monday”?).  Then you can gradually increase to a week, two weeks, etc….that’s what I did.  But people who have been raised on eating meat may have a difficult time coming up with meal ideas that include non-meat sources of protein.  It definitely takes research and experiments in the kitchen to stay motivated enough to stick with such an eating regimen.  I have my vegan and vegetarian protein sources that I love whipping up in the kitchen.  Here are my top pics along with meal ideas.

Quinoa: Often referred to as the “perfect protein” because of benefits it yields such as 8+ grams of protein per cup and amino acids that are essential for cell growth and repair, quinoa is a great plant-based choice for protein. I keep a bag of it in my pantry…preferably the kind that I don’t have to rinse first (it’s a grain so depending on the brand you get you may have to rinse it prior to cooking it).  Quinoa can be used for a variety of dishes ranging from salads to veggie burgers.  I’ve even used quinoa in breakfast meals.  My fave quinoa dishes include: quinoa cakes, quinoa apple delight, and quinoa veggie burgers.

Nuts: Nuts make a great protein source that are easy to take with you. I love keeping different types of nuts such as almonds and walnuts as on-the-go snacks.  I generally eat them daily as a snack to help get me through the workday or as something small to grab and take with me when I’m running errands so I can avoid stopping and getting something less healthy.  I also love using them to put in different goodies I make such as in my strawberry and chocolate Shakeology smoothies (I make them as thick as ice cream so combined with chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts they really taste like a dessert!).  My fave nut dishes include: oat protein balls and vegan oatmeal cookies.

Beans: I’ve never loved beans so much in my life! And good thing I do because they make a great protein source.  With approximately 47 grams per cup of white beans, 42 grams per cup of black beans, and 15 grams per cup of kidney beans along with other benefits such as fiber-rich you can’t go wrong with including them in at least a few of your weekly meals.  I grew up thinking beans were just good for chili or a less-than-favorable side that my parents made us eat.  But they can be so much more.  Since I’ve changed the way I eat and started eating more beans I’ve found a nice little variety of dishes in which I have been able to incorporate them.  Some of my fave bean dishes include: black bean veggie burgers, white bean veggie burgers, kale salad, and hummus.

Greens: The darker the leaf the better is what they say when it comes to green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. These vegetables are full of essential nutrients and also contain a fair amount of protein.  Per cup, you can get 0.9 grams of protein in spinach while the same amount of kale would give you 2.9 grams.  Now that may not sound like a lot.  But when you think about it eating it in a salad and during the same day another dish such as a sautéed side or in a soup it can add up fast.  So these leafy vegetables are still a good choice for those looking for plant-based protein sources.  I always have either a bag of spinach, kale, or both in my fridge.  My fave spinach and kale dishes include: sautéed spinach/kale, spinach breakfast salad, kale bean salad, and kale greens (I have grown to LOVE kale greens!)

Protein bars and smoothies: I love my snacks and I certainly haven’t given them up since I’ve started eating a healthier diet. Thank goodness I’ve been able to find tasty protein bars and smoothies that taste great as healthier snacks.  I love the Beachbody protein bars with my favorite varieties being their wildberry yogurt (I’m addicted to these!) and their chocolate peanut butter (think a healthier version of Reese’s cups).  I also love Beachbody’s Shakeology with the vegan chocolate and vegan tropical strawberry flavors being my favorites.  I’ve tried other protein powders and these are my favorite because of the smooth texture and great taste.  With the right amount and type of ice and other additives such as frozen bananas and peanut sometimes my chocolate Shakeology smoothies taste more like chocolate ice cream!  I am a Beachbody coach so feel free to check them out here 🙂

I hope that you’ve found this information helpful.  There are many more non-meat protein sources that I did not include here but didn’t want to make the post too long.  When we decide to take a fitness journey leading us to healthier choices it helps to try different things to see what works for you.  So maybe reducing or eliminating meat protein sources can be something that you can try and to see if it helps you to better manage your weight.  Whatever you choose to do, it certainly doesn’t hurt to include a good amount of these foods in your diet.  You have nothing to lose but weight and inches, right? 🙂

About Keke

I'm a wife, mother, IT career woman, MBA, fun, loving person who enjoys wearing multiple hats and living life to the fullest. I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and have been working in the field of technology for over a decade, which I enjoy very much. Additionally, I'm passionate about fitness and eating well so I'm always researching related topics and enjoy sharing this information with others. My blog merges the things I'm passionate about by turning these topics into what I hope you find are interesting blog posts. So glad you stopped by and hope to see you back here soon!

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