(StatePoint) Protein is an essential part of any diet, particularly for those who are physically active. And while you can always turn to chicken, meat or fish to get a boost, you may be seeking ways to increase your protein intake without meat.
Eating less meat is more environmentally sustainable, as a serving of vegetables requires less energy to produce than a serving of meat. What’s more, a well-planned vegetarian diet may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Whether you are simply looking to reduce meat intake or you are going entirely meat-free, here are five great ways to skip the burger today and still get a sufficient dose of protein.
• A classic staple: Rice and beans are simple to prepare and affordable. Plus, when legumes are paired with grains, they form a complete protein. Don’t get bored though, there are many preparations to try, as well as ingredient combinations. Also, each meal can be flavored in its own way with spices like turmeric, cumin and cayenne -- that can add important health benefits of their own.
• Grab-and-go: Need a quick breakfast solution, on-the-go snack or after workout dose of protein? Think smart protein bars. For instance, you can grab a Sōl Good Protein Bar from Sunwarrior. They are USDA-Certified Organic, soy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free and vegan. Made from quality plant-based protein and a variety of superfoods, including whole grain brown rice, yellow peas, quinoa and sunflower butter, they come in four flavors and offer 19 grams of protein per bar, amongst a wealth of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. For nutrition information, visit Sunwarrior.com.
• Dip it: Not just a delicious snack or appetizer, hummus atop pita or veggies is also a good source of protein. Whether you go for a store-bought variety or whip up your own batch, there are many ways to jazz up your dip with add-ons like roasted red peppers, fresh herbs or even pine nuts -- bonus protein!
• Back to basics: Getting your protein at lunch doesn’t have to be complicated. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich takes seconds to make, is delicious and satisfying, and delivers the protein you need midday to make it to your next meal. Go with the classic construction or use fresh fruit in place of jelly for extra fiber and nutrients. If you’re at home, make it gooey and extra delicious by grilling your sandwich.
• Simple swap: When making a stir-fry, stew or soup, use tofu, tempeh or seitan in place of meat. These ingredients are high-protein additions to your meal, and easy to prepare. They also take on the flavors of the spices, sauces and broth with which you are cooking.
From grab-and-go items to easily-prepped meals at home, it can be easy to get the protein you need in your diet, even while you reduce your meat intake.