Vegetable Protein Substitutes for Meat

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Want to go completely meatless but have no idea what types of meat alternatives are out there? We’ve rounded up several animal-free alternatives so you can get enough protein you need to build your muscles and maintain your svelte figure without the calories and cholesterol!


Beans are a superfood packed with antioxidants and essential minerals. It’s low in calories and cholesterol, full of fiber and magnesium plus, it’s also an excellent source of protein. In fact, a cup of beans packs around 7.5 grams of protein! As a substitute for meat, beans can be prepared in a lot of ways including soups, salads, veggie burgers, and even veggie burrito.


What are lentils, you ask? Lentils are types of legumes that are rich in protein, making them an excellent substitute for meat. Just ½ cup of lentils yields around 9 grams of protein. Just like beans, lentils are superfoods packed with essential vitamins and minerals including folate, iron, and potassium as well cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Clinical studies show that lentils may reduce inflammation in the body. Lentils come in green and red varieties, and can be prepared in different ways including as ingredient for veggie burgers, stews, and salads. Beans can also be added to nearly all types of Indian cuisine.


Natto is a Japanese breakfast staple. It’s derived from fermented soybeans and similar in appearance to kidney beans. Although the texture may be strange to some and the smell is very pungent, half a cup of natto yields 15.5 grams of protein.

Natto is usually taken with sushi rice or used as ingredient in maki rolls. Natto can also be used as an ingredient in veggie dumplings, stir-fry dishes, etc. This protein-rich meat alternative can be quite difficult to find in local grocers but it’s usually available in most Asian groceries.


Quinoa is a type of grain and seed that yields 4 grams of protein in every ½ cup. It’s also the only grains that contain nine essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. Unlike other meat alternatives, Quinoa is a complete protein. It’s also rich in fiber, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Quinoa is a great alternative to rice, pasta, and couscous and is also an excellent addition to soups and salads to boost protein.


At 7 grams of protein per ½ cup, ol’ reliable tofu is the most popular type of meat substitute in the market. Tofu is made from soybean curds and is widely available in local groceries. It’s not only tasty, it’s also very versatile. It can be prepared baked, fried, steamed, sautéed, or grilled. It absorbs flavors well and it’s easy to incorporate in any recipes!

Portobello Mushroom Caps

Portobello mushroom caps yield about 5 grams of protein per serving. It’s often used as alternative to meat patties for burgers or sandwiches. Portobello mushroom caps can also be used as meat alternatives to fajitas and wraps. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals—including thiamin, potassium, vitamin B6, and folate—Portobello mushroom caps have a delicate flavor on its own but can be marinated and added to suit any dish. And when it comes to texture, Portobello mushroom caps are similar to that of meat!

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