How to Get Protein as a Vegetarian by Substituting Meat in Your Favorite Dishes

You can still enjoy your favorite dishes vegetarian style by simply substituting high protein foods that are not meat in your favorite standard recipes.

The great news is that there are plant-based, good sources of protein for vegetarians that make it easy to enjoy your new meatless lifestyle without feeling deprived.

Pretty much anything you ate in the past can be duplicated with high protein foods for vegetarian diets…including meatballs and burgers!

Top Foods High in Protein for Vegetarian Recipes

Here are some non-meat foods high in protein that provide tasty alternatives in your favorite dishes:

Pizza – The sausage on pizza can be replaced with soy sausage or simply topped with vegetables.

Burgers – Hamburgers can be made with veggie burgers instead of
beef, or even enjoyed with a pile of tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and pickles on a fresh baked bun.

protein sources for vegetarians

Eggplant makes a wonderful substitute for beef patties in burgers, as do potatoes, and Portobello mushrooms.

Tacos – Substitute beef in tacos with black beans.

Tofu – Tofu is a protein that is made from soybeans, virtually any recipe that calls for meat can be made with this plant-based protein.

protein sources for vegetarians

Tofu can be used to create tofu nuggets, or used in chunks in stir-fry to replace steak or chicken. Tofu is very good at absorbing flavors of any kind, such as sauces and marinades.

Tofu can be cubed, just like chicken or steak for a weekend BBQ kabob. Tofu can also be scrambled to replace eggs. It works great in Thai, Italian, and curry dishes.

Tempeh – Tempeh is also made from soybeans but is much firmer than tofu and so it can be used to make vegan sandwiches like the Rueben or pulled pork. Tempeh has a flaky texture so it’s great for crab cakes or vegan fish sticks. You can also grind tempeh to make meatballs or filling for tacos. The possibilities and recipes available are limitless.

TVP – TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is a vegetable protein made from soy, can be obtained in all shapes and sizes, and makes a great replacement for any cut of meat, including ground beef.

vegetarian meat

Look for specific recipes online to create tasty vegan dishes with this diverse plant-based protein.

Seitan – Seitan is another great meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Seitan takes on flavors really well and makes a great replacement for pork, chicken, and beef. Recipes like Seitan steak with red wine sauce can quickly make you forget top sirloin. Seitan cacciatore turns an old Italian favorite vegan.

Mushrooms – Mushrooms are very meaty, rich and have an earthy flavor that makes them a perfect beef replacement. In fact, you can build an entire main dish out of a large Portobello mushroom. They can be stuffed with many types of vegetables such as peppers, spinach, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes. Then, bake till done.

If you eat dairy as part of your plan, melt mozzarella or cheddar cheese over them for added goodness. Stuff them with nuts like pecans for a wonderful rich nutty flavor. They can be grilled with garlic and vegan butter and piled over a hot French or whole grain roll to make a filling, tasty sandwich.

Lentils – Lentils make great meat substitutes. Lentils are healthy, loaded with nutrients, are a quality protein, and are hardy enough to replace meat in many dishes. They are cheap and come in a wide variety and colors including, red, yellow, brown, and green. They can be used in chili, burgers, soups, stews, Shepherd’s pie, and meatballs for pasta dishes.

Beans – Beans are fantastic sources of protein and make great meat replacements in vegetarian diets. Choose from the very inexpensive and filling varieties such as kidney, black, pinto, or aduki beans along with black-eyed and chickpeas. Mung beans provide the added benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Beans make for hearty soups, stews, and chilies. Chickpeas make a great tuna salad. Black beans go great in tacos and chili instead of beef. Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, makes a great substitute for mayonnaise on burgers and sandwiches. There are endless varieties of bean salads that add color and flavor to a cool summer dish.

Vegetables – Roasted vegetables can serve as a main dish, and when they are flavored correctly, can really wow your taste buds.

Mushrooms, eggplant, beets, and potatoes can be made the stars of any meal, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With the use of herbs, spices, and sauces like Balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, the possibilities become endless in using hearty vegetables to create vegetarian meals.

Imitation Crab – Thankfully, imitation crab is vegan and tastes yummy, use it for seafood salad, crab cakes, stir-fry, soups or simply to munch on for a midday snack.

Strong Flavors – Replacing strong flavored meats, such as bacon can be achieved in various ways. Tempeh bacon is available, but may not be easy to find in all areas of the country. Using hickory smoked salt or smoked paprika are good alternatives. Other spices such as chipotle pepper adds a nice smoky flavor to vegan dishes.

Pumpkin – This fall season superstar makes for a great meat alternative, especially when it’s pureed and added to marinara sauce for pasta dishes.

Okara – Okara is made from soy pulp and contains loads of protein and fiber. It makes a great meat replacement in stews, omelets, and soups. It also makes fantastic crab cakes.

Quinoa – Nature’s super food, quinoa, is a complete source of protein which provides you with folic acid and magnesium. Quinoa is oh so versatile that you will wonder how you ever ate without it! It makes for hearty salads, side dishes, and pilafs. It can also be baked in patty form for a truly gourmet vegan burger.

Sloppy Joes – How about Sloppy Joes made with tofu? When made with a zesty and flavorful sauce, you will never miss the beef…promise!

Buy It Premade – There are also packaged soy protein vegan copies of meat favorites including tempeh bacon, breakfast sausages, burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, chicken marsala, chicken picatta, pizza, corn dogs and much more. These foods offer nutrition, flavor, and convenience.

Where to Find More Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

The above is really just a shortlist of the best sources of protein for vegetarians to help get you started. Thousands of recipes exist for using plant-based foods high in protein in vegetarian cooking to create tasty and healthy dishes that are loaded with flavor. With so many delicious options of how to get protein as a vegetarian or vegan, memories of meat will quickly fade. Try new foods. Be creative. Enjoy!

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