The 16 Best Meat Substitutes for Vegetarians, Ranked by Protein Content

When making the switch to vegetarianism, one of the biggest things you lose is an easy source of protein. Protein is a super-important macromolecule for the building blocks of your body’s bones, muscles, tissues, skin, and blood. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a daily serving of 5½-oz. of protein for the average adult, though it may be more depending on personal health and exercise levels. Not enough protein leads to muscle loss, fatigue, and in some cases, anemia.


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Lucky for vegetarians, there are several alternatives to meat out there that are equally delicious as a cheeseburger, and can provide just as much protein. Here is a list of 16 high-protein replacements for meat, ranked according to the amount of protein in each.

16. Eggs — 6g per 1 large egg


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Eggs don’t just help you score tons of likes on Instagram for yolk porn. They’re also an awesome source for vegetarians to get additional protein. They can be enjoyed in a number of ways: on a breakfast sandwich, scrambled with veggies, poached on avocado toast, or boiled and added to salad.

15. Green peas — 7.5g protein per 1 cup serving


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That’s right, this legume contains a whooping 7.9g of protein in just one cup, about the same as a glass of milk. Additionally, peas are low in calories and fat and are extremely versatile. Serve them on the side of another meat substitute for a hearty meal, or make this pea pesto to serve on linguine pasta.

14. Milk — 8g protein per 1 cup


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Depending on the type of milk you choose from, it can be a great additional source of protein for vegetarians. Cow’s milk and soy milk contain an average of 8g of protein per one serving, while almond milk contains only about 2g. Milk can be added into any of your favorite smoothies, or enjoyed on its own with a meal.

13. Quinoa — 8.5g protein per 1 cup


Photo by Kelda Baljon

Quinoa is everyone’s new favorite superfood, and for good reason. This seed (yes, quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain) contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs for proper functioning. Just one cup of the stuff contains about the same amount of protein as three slices of bacon. And as much as it might pain you to admit, quinoa is so much better for you than bacon.

12. Edamame — 11g protein per 1 cup


Photo by Elyse Belarge

Edamame is every vegetarian’s favorite portable, high-protein snack. Its 11g of protein per one cup serving is equal to the amount in half of an average chicken breast. Whip up this edamame dip to serve with veggies or pita chips as a satisfying and meatless, protein-filled snack.

11. Beans — 16g protein per 1 cup


Photo by Kelda Baljon

There are tons of different varieties of beans out there, including pinto, black, and kidney, just to name a few popular ones. Two cups of kidney beans contain about 26g of protein, which is about as much as a Big Mac from McDonald’s. Therefore, you’re better off making this black bean burger that’s so good, even your meat-loving friends will enjoy it.

10. Greek Yogurt — 17g protein per 1 cup


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