First, let me be clear. I like meat and recommend eating some meat weekly. That being said there is ample evidence to suggest going a few days without meat or with very little meat have clear health benefits.
Here are my top 5 options for protein that don’t involve meat!
1) Quinoa- this semi-grain is unique because it is a complete protein. This means it has the same amino acid profile as meat and is thus a great option if you are vegetarian or vegan. The only caveat is that in order to avoid many of the problems associated with grains you do need to pressure cook quinoa. I recommend the Instant Pot for this. It’s simple and quick and cooks it just right.
2) Spirullina- this blue-green algae not only has lots of protein per serving but also serves as one of natures “multi-vitamins”. It’s loaded with nutrients and can be easily blended into a smoothie or mixed with water.
3) Lentils- this legume must be pressure cooked for full benefits much like quinoa. It is a great protein source and also contains a variety of minerals not found in many legumes or grains. Mix in a little olive oil and you have a complete meal.
4) Split Peas- once again pressure cooking is recommended here. Split peas contain ample protein and can be used in a variety of ways. A vegetarian split pea soup is a great way to add lots of veggies to a protein rich meal without any meat.
5) Spinach- this green is also a good source of protein and iron. Spinach can be eaten raw in salads or smoothies, stir fried into other meals or added to soups. It is certainly one of the most versatile greens and happens to be a good protein source.
Bonus Point- contrary to popular belief most vegetables contain protein. Broccoli, leeks, artichokes, and most greens contain protein!
Bonus Point #2- hemp protein powder is another great option for meat free protein. It can make a great addition to smoothies and is a readily accessible protein source.