While protein is essential to growth, building muscle, the immune system and heart and respiratory functions, MSNBC explains, meat-free protein has the benefit of generally being lower in calories and fat than the animal variety.
Consider steak. A 3-ounce serving will give you about 23 grams of protein, but that protein comes with a side of 14 grams of fat and 224 calories. And keep in mind that three ounces of steak is about the size of a deck of cards. When’s the last time you saw a restaurant stick to that portion size? The typical American diet makes it easy to eat heavy on the protein while consuming extra fat and calories your body doesn’t need.
Whether you're a vegetarian or not, there are lots of tasty meat-free sources of protein that also pack additional health benefits. Click through the options below, then tell us your favorite protein source in the comments.
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and other nuts are all good meat-free protein sources, according to Rodale, but peanuts top the list. One ounce of dry-roasted peanuts contains nearly 7 grams of protein. Plus, nuts are loaded with healthy fats -- just don't eat too many!