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15 Foods to Get Your Fill of Protein on Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday is a movement grounded in the belief that by going meatless one day a week, the risk of chronic preventable diseases is reduced. However, meat is full of protein, right? Whoa…wait just a minute – if you skip meat, you’ll be missing out on valuable protein that your body needs, right?


Meat and fish are protein-rich foods. These protein sources are complete because they contain adequate amounts of those all-important nine essential amino acids that the human body can’t synthesize (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) but which we all need. Proteins are the body’s building blocks; they promote cell growth and repair. (It’s one reason you see people chugging protein drinks after a workout – muscle protein breaks down during exercising and repairs post-workout, while you rest.) But meat and fish aren’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to protein.

protein collage

You don’t have to lose out when going the Meatless Monday route.

So what can you eat on Meatless Mondays that won’t leave you protein deficient? You can get your fill of these important macromolecules in foods like eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and asparagus. However, these aren’t the only sources. But first . . .

How Much Protein Do You Need?

There are different schools of thought on this. In my research, I’ve found that there are quite a few factors which determine how much protein is needed per day: age, weight, caloric intake, activity level, pregnancy and lifestyle. However, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Institute of Medicine is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men.

Source: Food and Nutrition Information Center, USDA (National Academies Press / Institute of Medicine)

Source: Food and Nutrition Information Center, USDA (National Academies Press / Institute of Medicine)

What Other Foods are Great Soures of Protein?

Eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and asparagus are just four food items that are great sources of protein and ones which you probably eat on a regular basis. However, your Meatless Monday routine doesn’t have to be limited to these four. Below are 11 additional protein sources (grams / unit of measure) that you may want to consider to add variety to your meals in the absence of meat.

  1. Chickpeas – 39g / 1 cup (There’s more than one protein source in this Asparagus Sabzi recipe)
  2. Dry roasted peanuts – 35g / 1 cup (Peanuty Rice and Tofu)
  3. Kidney beans 15g (boiled) / 1 cup
  4. Lentils – 50g / 1 cup (This Asparagus Sabzi recipe contains a variety of protein sources)
  5. Peanut butter – 8g / 2 tablespoons
  6. Quinoa – 8g (cooked) / 1 cup (Give this Quinoa Stuffed Peppers recipe a try)
  7. Seitan – 75g / 1 cup (Try this Thai Seitan Stir-Fry recipe)
  8. Soybeans – 68g / 1 cup (raw); 29g (boiled); 61g (roasted)
  9. Split peas, cooked – 16 g / 1 cup
  10. Tempeh – 31g / 1 cup
  11. Tofu – 20g / 1 cup (Tofu Steak with Grown Garlic Gravy is just one way to use tofu)

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