05/24/2012 07:19 am ET Updated Jul 24, 2014

8 Great Vegetarian Ways To Get More Protein

One of the most common myths about the vegetarian diet is that after ditching meat it becomes nearly impossible to meet the suggested guidelines for protein intake.

The USDA recommends that women get about 46 grams of protein a day and men get about 56. Some people, like athletes and pregnant or breastfeeding women, may need more, according to WebMD.

But, thanks in part to initiatives like Meatless Monday, this year, Americans are expected to eat 12 percent less meat and poultry than five years ago, USA Today reported.

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.

Meat-Free Protein


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