If you are teetering on the edge of whether or not to practice a meatless diet, this post is for you! I hear from parents, friends, etc. all the time- “but where will you get your protein??” Actually, there are a lot of foods that provide protein, as well as many other healthy nutrients. As promised in my last post, I will continue the theme of vegetarianism and provide 5 viable alternatives to eating meat!
I can tell you from experience mushrooms are just as filling as most meats. I love sautéing Crimini mushrooms (the smaller ones) in oil with peppers and onions! It goes great over pasta or rice. In addition to being tasty, mushrooms are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They have potassium, which controls blood pressure, Niacin for healthy skin, and they are the only produce that contains Vitamin D. Mushrooms are also a great antioxidant for strengthening immunity, so for those of you who get sick in college a little too often, try increasing your mushroom intake!
This vegetable is another winner in my eyes, in terms of a hearty meat replacement. They can be sliced and breaded for eggplant parm, or diced and sautéed to serve with tomatoes or zucchini, or even grilled as used as a side dish. If you already eat eggplants, you probably have only had the purple type. Next time try white ones! Eggplants are high in iron, calcium, and fiber, while low in calories. They also have bioflavnoids which control high blood pressure and relieve stress. They are one of the healthiest foods you can consume!
3. Black Beans
Beans are a really versatile food- they can be added to a pot of vegetable chili for dinner, or paired with corn to make a great side dish. Aside from the protein benefits, they are great at maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, and contain fiber to help with weight loss. This high protein-fiber content is what really sets these legumes ahead for health benefits, as well as being known to reduce cancer risk!
You name it- almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts,… they are all super high in protein! Try any of these as a snack instead of grabbing a bag of chips; they will make you feel more full for longer, not to mention the nutrients you are getting. Almonds are high in fiber, calcium, iron, and magnesium (which helps you sleep!) while sunflower seeds are helpful in bringing down cholesterol levels. They too have magnesium to relax you! For relativity- sunflower seeds have the same amount of protein per gram as both sirloin steak and salmon. How’s that for easy alternative?!
Depending on how strict your vegetarianism is, this may or may not be an option for you. However, I am definitely a fan of eggs for a couple reasons- there are so many different ways to make an egg (so you’ll never get sick of them), they are very filling whichever way you cook them, and they have a ton of proteins and nutrients in them! Not to mention they help in reducing risk of heart disease, and benefit the health of your eyes.
For more high-protein cuisine, all of the following are great options:
Lentils | tempeh | quinoa | cottage cheese | edamame | greek yogurt | hummus | kale | milk | spinach | broccoli | avocado
Now that I have convinced you of all the options out there, why don’t you try the meatless diet for a week? Take one of these protein-packed foods each day and either use it as your main meal or incorporate it in a side dish! I guarantee you will feel healthier, and get better at cooking (except no guarantee on the cooking part).