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Protein-Rich Meatless Dinners

protein-rich meatless dinner
Meatless dinners can be delicious and meet your nutrition needs.

If you avoid red meat or poultry, you may lose out on more than just the flavors and protein.

Animal products not only provide the essential amino acids you need on a daily basis, but a number of other nutrients as well. Once you know what nutrients you need, scroll down for protein-rich meatless dinner recipes.

What Nutrients Do Meat and Poultry Provide?

Meat and poultry are rich sources of:


Non-meat animal sources of protein

Besides meat and poultry, you can get protein, B12, and iron from any other animal products including fish, yogurt, cheese, and eggs. Yogurt and cheese will provide the calcium and vitamin D as well.

Non-animal sources of protein include:

  • quinoa (complete protein)

  • soy products- tempeh, tofu, natto, and miso (complete protein)

  • hemp and chia seeds (complete proteins)

  • beans, falafel, & hummus

  • lentils

  • whole grains

  • corn

  • nuts & nut butters

  • whey or pea protein 

Non-animal protein sources are usually incomplete, meaning you need to pair them with something else to get all the amino acids you need.

Typically you can pair grains (whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, or stone ground tortilla chips) with legumes (beans, lentils, or nut butters). *Even though tomatoes are not a legume, whole grain spaghetti with tomato sauce is a classic complete protein (even without the meatballs!).

Non-animal protein sources do not contain B12 and it's difficult to absorb iron from them. However, you can add citrus or other foods high in vitamin C to help absorb more of the iron from plant-based sources. Unfortunately, B12 must come from an animal source or supplement.

If you're heading to the grocery store this weekend and want to plan ahead meatless dinners, here are protein-rich recipes you can make that also take dietary restrictions into account:

Meatless lunch and breakfast recipes can also be found at

To make a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian, book online at


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