A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Meatless meals can pack a protein punch

Eating less meat has many health benefits and has been shown to reduce the risk for several chronic diseases.

If you’re not used to meatless meals, you may be concerned about getting enough protein in your diet. Not to worry, said Haleigh Storkel, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. You can easily get the amount of protein you need from plant-based foods and meatless animal products.

Healthy adult men need about 56 grams of protein per day, and women need about 46 grams. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more – 71 grams is recommended. Check with your doctor or a dietitian if you think a medical condition or your activity level may affect how much protein you need.

“Most healthy people are able to meet their requirement without much difficulty,” Storkel said.

Eating less meat reduces chronic disease risk

Research has linked a plant-based diet with lower risk of certain chronic medical conditions.

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain cancers

Plant-based protein sources also contain cholesterol-lowering fiber and disease-fighting chemical compounds called phytochemicals.

Tips for eating less meat

These suggestions help you add more meatless protein sources to your diet.

  1. Replace half the meat in your soup or casserole with a meatless protein source like beans.
  2. Start eating 1-2 meatless meals per week.
  3. Add nuts, seeds, beans, peas and lentils to salads.
  4. Use herbs, spices and marinades to add flavor to tofu and legumes.
  5. Convert your favorite dinners to meatless recipes. Try seasoned lentils instead of ground beef in your tacos or tofu instead of chicken in your stir fry.

More benefits to going meatless

“Protein is the most expensive part of the food budget,” Storkel said. “Reducing meat intake may help save money at the grocery store.”

Black beans, edamame, eggs, lentils and quinoa are great protein sources and cheap to buy.

Some studies suggest plant-based diets are better for the environment because the meat and dairy industries produce more greenhouse gases than farms that grow plant-based foods.

See meatless recipes from Marshfield Clinic.

Try including more of these foods in your diet if you’re looking to eat less meat.


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