6 high-protein meat substitutes
This guide to meat substitutes can help you make smart choices.
If you’re experimenting with going vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian, this guide to meat substitutes can help you make smart choices.
Tofu is a mild, soft, white curd made from soybeans. Subtle in flavor and very versatile, it can be stir-fried, deep-fried, pureed, cubed and tossed into soups or stews, or even whipped into mousse. Best of all, it packs a whopping 10 grams of protein per half-cup, for fewer than 100 calories. Tip: If you are new to tofu, try the “firm” kind (it’s easier to slice than the silken variety).
Tempeh will never win any beauty contests. This traditional soy product, made of cultured and fermented soybeans, looks like a little bit like rocks bound together with white fungus. Don’t look, eat! Tempeh is a revelation, packed with protein (15 grams per half-cup), meaty and mild, versatile and highly digestible. Use it anywhere you would tofu; it holds up especially well between two slices of bread or stir-fried.
This meat alternative, more popular in Asian countries than in the United States, looks a lot like duck meat and tastes, well, like chicken. Also called wheat gluten, seitan is made of powdered whole-wheat flour mixed with water, pulled and processed, and well-seasoned with salt and other savory flavors. It has less protein than the other meat substitutes on this list (about 8 grams per half-cup), but you can sneak it into any recipe that calls for poultry.
Quick … what bean has the most protein? Soybeans of course, with nearly 20 grams per cup. And edamame are nothing more than fresh soybeans (you knew that, right?). Tip: Buy them frozen and shelled, then toss them into any soup or salad.
Beans are amazingly high in fiber and protein, and they’re meaty and delicious enough to sub for steak and chicken in most meals. The highest-protein beans are fava and kidney, but any bean you crave will be a healthy meat-free choice.
- Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
That crumbly quality you get in your veggie burger? It probably comes from TVP, a product made from soy flour. It packs the same amount of protein as tofu, but some people find it a little easier to digest.