Meatless Proteins You Will Love

May 7, 2020

With all the talk about potential meat shortages, it’s easy to get a little anxious about whether you will have access to your go-to proteins and have enough on hand to prepare all those extra meals and snacks for you and your family! After all, 41 percent of consumers say they are cooking more during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders*.

First, rest assured that for almost all age and gender groups, Americans meet their protein requirements (and even exceed in many cases!), so there’s no need to panic about temporary shortages of meat. If anything, think about this as a time to get creative and experiment with meatless forms of protein—who knows, you may be surprised at how much you like mixing it up!

Below are several options to check out on the shelves in various sections of your local store. These can be swapped out for meat and poultry to meet your protein needs. You can sub into your favorite dishes—or even try the new ones we are sharing.


1. Beans & Legumes

Those highest in protein include lentils, white beans, split peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, and lima beans.

Black Bean Quesadilla Recipe

2. Soy

There are lots of choices when it comes to soy proteins including tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk. 

Spinach Stuffed Potatoes

3. Seeds

You can’t go wrong with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and chia. Just keep in mind that the amount of protein these options provide is related to how much you use (e.g., a handful of sunflower seeds will provide more protein than a sprinkle of flax seeds in oatmeal or pumpkin seeds on a salad). 

Sesame Apple Salad

4. Nuts

Top sources of protein include peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Make sure to separate the portion you intend to eat, rather than snacking directly from the container, as eating mindlessly can add extra calories to your day. For those who don’t like nuts or have trouble digesting them, nut butters (e.g., peanut, cashew, almond, or sunflower butter) are great options!

Spinach, Strawberry, and Pecan Salad

 5. Grains

Several grains are recognized for having a higher protein content than others. Great options include quinoa, whole wheat pasta, wild rice, millet, couscous, and oatmeal. 

Quinoa Salad with Corn and Peas

6. Dairy

Top choices for protein-rich dairy are cottage cheese, milk, and Greek yogurt. Remember to go for low- or no-fat options, as they have the same great nutrients as the full-fat versions, only with less saturated fat. 

Breakfast Smoothie and Parfait

 7. Canned Fish 

Try anchovies, sardines, salmon, or tuna. Look for those canned in water and drain the liquid before eating.

Caribbean Tuna Salad

8. Eggs 

You can use the whole egg or just the egg white (this is where the protein is found). Refrigerated options, such as Egg Beaters, are a good alternative. 

Egg Salad Recipe

BONUS: In addition to protein, many of these healthy options are high in other important nutrients such as fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Also, most are shelf-stable during this time of less frequent shopping trips!

Recipes brought to you by MyPlate, IGA, and Produce for Better Health Foundation.

*Source: FMI US Grocery Trends Covid-19 Tracker conducted by the Hartman Group with 1,000+ US adults from April 15-25, 2020.

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