Think green: Top 35 sources of meatless protein

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017
For a healthier life, researchers say ditch the meat
Researchers suggest a plant-based diet may be better for you.

Think you have to eat meat if you want protein in your diet? Think again.

People who eat a plant-based diet know you can incorporate protein into your meals and snacks across a day and never touch anything that had a mother or a face.

While it's true some of these veggies, grains and seeds may have less protein than meat in a single serving, you can still get more than enough over the course of a day.

How much protein do I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the minimum you need to be healthy, and that's .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Multiply .36 to your current weight, and that's the amount of protein in grams you need to eat each day.

Here's 35 great ways to get your daily amount of protein:


If you like nuts, you're in luck: they are full of protein. Almonds deliver seven grams per cup of fresh nuts or two tablespoons of almond butter.


These teeny tiny grains are surprisingly full of protein. Seven grams for just one cup, to be exact. Use these with beans or lentils to make your own superfood burger patties.


Leafy artichoke hearts are delicious little packages of fiber, but also give you four grams of protein for just half a cup.


These stalks can be marinated for one delicious side dish! But that's not all. You'll get B vitamins, folate, and four grams of protein per cup, which is approximately six stalks.

Black beans

Antioxidant rich and super healthy for you, the black bean is a mighty little dietary marvel that features less starch than other beans. It also has eight grams of protein for every half cup serving, so fill up on black beans whenever you can!

Black eyed peas

These brown beans with the weird black "eyes" have eight grams of protein in just half a cup, and are a terrific source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium, too.


President George H.W. Bush banned this green vegetable from Air Force One and that's a shame. He could have enjoyed four grams of protein per cup, plus loads of calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, and fiber in one green dose.

Brussels sprouts

These baby cabbage buds offer between four and five grams of protein for every cup-sized serving, in addition to dietary fiber, more than a day's worth of vitamin C, vitamin A, and B vitamins.

Chia seeds

A little seed goes a long way! Spread two tablespoons of chia seeds on top of your oatmeal, soups, and other meals, and you'll add a whopping five grams of protein to your meal.


This is the foundation for hummus, but you can also throw these legumes into a summer salad, soups and other meals. A half-cup serving has between six and eight grams of protein. (Check nutritional labels.)


These lean, green fighting machines pack a one-two punch of both antioxidants and fiber, but also deliver between eight and nine grams of protein to you in one half-cup serving.

Ezekiel bread

Breads made from sprouted grains are incredibly dense, protein wise. They have about eight grams of protein in just two slices. A sandwich made with grilled veggies or maybe a nut butter is a great idea for a simple, protein-packed lunch.

Green beans

Vitamin B6 and loads of fiber are yours when you eat green beans, and if you get about half a cup's worth, you'll also benefit from four grams of protein.

Green peas

Protein and fiber combine to make green peas one super veggie. You'll find eight grams of protein per cup, plus amino acid that helps aid in weight loss, too.

Hemp seeds

You wouldn't believe how protein-dense these little seeds really are: 13 grams of protein in just three tablespoons. Sprinkle these seeds in a green shake, on top of cereal, anywhere. You'll meet your protein needs really quickly with hemp seeds.

Hemp milk

Want to consume less dairy? Hemp milk is a great plant-based milk that has a rich and creamy texture, and five grams of protein in one cup.


These fiber-filled little wonders are versatile, easy to incorporate into dishes, and add nine grams of protein per half-cup serving. That can add up to a whole lot of protein in very little time.

Nutritional yeast

You can use this ingredient to create vegan queso, dairy-free macaroni and "cheese," and even enchilada sauce, and it gives you eight grams of protein in just two tablespoons.


Don't go instant! Get steel cut oats or old fashioned whole oats, and you'll gain five whole grams of protein with every half-cup serving. A delicious way to start the day and get more protein, in addition to magnesium, calcium and B vitamins.

Peanut butter

With just two tablespoons, you can get eight grams of protein-and plenty of ooey, gooey taste!

Pumpkin seeds

People need more seeds! You might only think about eating pumpkin seeds during the harvest season, but they are full of iron, magnesium, and eight grams of protein in just a quarter of a cup!


In moderation, this starchy vegetable can make a great part of your diet plan. You will get plenty of potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and dietary fiber when you eat a medium potato. You will also get about four or five grams of protein, too.


You can use it for cereal, to make baked goods, throw it stir fry or even make it the centerpiece of a main course. Whatever you do, realize that eating quinoa is also bringing you eight grainy grams of protein per cup, plus it's chock full of antioxidants and fiber.


If you are not gluten sensitive, you can use this meat-like protein source to get 25 grams of protein in every three or four ounce serving. This is one of the most rich plant protein sources on earth, and packs small amounts of selenium, iron, calcium and phosphorus into your diet.

Soy milk

If you're trying to ditch the dairy, you'll find one good reason to switch to soy milk: one 8-ounce cup has eight grams of protein and four grams of heart-healthy fats. Yummy!


One of the ancient grains, spelt brings you a whopping 10 to 11 grams of protein per cooked cup, plus fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.


You know you need more leafy greens in your life, so choose spinach. It has five grams of protein per cup, and works as a staple for a variety of whole food recipes.


What is it? Blue green algae. Why do you need it? Not only does it give you 80 percent of your daily iron needs, you can also get four grams of protein in just one tablespoon.

Sweet corn

A state fair favorite! A large ear of sweet corn offers plenty of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and magnesium, but also contains about four or five grams of protein as well.

Sweet potato

This sweet veggie can be used to make baked fries or even vegan lasagna filling, and is packed with potassium, dietary fiber, B vitamins, vitamin A, and between four or five grams of protein in one medium sweet potato.


This is one condiment you can't get enough of, and is made from ground sesame seeds. You can use it to make hummus, baba ghanoush, halva, or eat it by itself. You'll get eight delicious grams of protein in just two tablespoons!


Another ancient grain, teff is full of B vitamins, zinc and selenium, but also has 10 to 11 grams of protein per cooked cup.


This form of soy offers 12 grams of protein in one cup, and brings you meat-like texture to your meals.


Carnivores might make jokes about tofu, but it is not only crazy versatile, coming in a multitude of forms and textures, it also adds 10 grams of protein per cup of chopped tofu.

Wild rice

You'll dose up on fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, B vitamins, and seven grams of protein in just one cooked cup.

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