The Best Protein Sources That Aren't Meat

Protein is crucial to helping the body stay healthy and perform optimally, as it is provides the building blocks of muscles, cells, bones, hormones, and even antibodies (via Healthline). The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for protein in the average adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, SELF reports that several other major organizations are in agreement that for an active adult, 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is more beneficial. 

You may find that getting enough protein is challenging if you live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or if you have an aversion to certain meats. Luckily, protein can be found in a variety of other foods, such as eggs. The Cleveland Clinic reports that one egg is only 70 calories and provides 6 to 8 grams of protein, as well as essential nutrients including vitamin D, omega-3, B vitamins, and choline. 

High-protein plant-based foods

Additionally, there is a plethora of high-protein, plant-based options available for those who avoid meat and eggs. Soybean-based foods like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are a whole protein source, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids as well as calcium and iron, and contain between 10 and 19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (via Healthline). 

Lentils are an excellent source of protein, as they are low in calories, packed with fiber, and rich in folate, zinc, and iron. With 9 grams of protein per half-cup, and versatile enough to be incorporated into a variety of recipes like soups, stews, tacos, and dips, keeping lentils stocked in your pantry is a win-win (via Taste of Home).

Hempseed is another nutritional powerhouse, although a bit controversial because it comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is in the same plant family as marijuana (via Healthline). The seed contains minimal amounts of THC and will not give you a "high," but it will, however, give you 10 grams per ounce of easily digestible complete protein and magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and selenium. Foods like chickpeas, black beans, oats, and Greek yogurt are also excellent non-meat sources of protein, making the decision to leave meat behind that much easier.