7 Healthy Plant Foods With Almost as Much Protein as Meat

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Photo: Stocksy/Cameron Whitman
When most people think of protein, they think of meat. But several high-protein plant foods give animal-based protein a run for its money—and some might even convince you to finally ditch the chicken breast or steak for good.

While a 3 ounces of chicken contains 24 grams of protein and 3 ounces of steak contains 22 grams of protein, plant-based staples really don't fall too far behind. Whether you've been thinking of making a lentil soup, roasting some chickpeas, or steaming some edamame to snack on, you'll take in more than enough protein to meet your daily requirements. And these are some of the best high-protein plant foods to add to your diet.

The healthiest high-protein plant foods

1. Lentils

Protein: 18 grams per one-cup serving

"Not only do these yellow, red, green, and brown legumes last on shelves for months—whether you buy them canned or dried—every bite of them gives you a high dose of nutrients, so there’s good reason for storing them in bulk."

Recipe to try: Vegan Lentil Meatballs

2. Black beans

Protein: 15 grams per one-cup serving

"As plant-based eating continues to dominate, you can expect these humble little beans to take center stage in your food even more frequently."

Recipe to try: Vegan Black Bean Ceviche Tostada

3. Chickpeas

Protein: 15 grams per one-cup serving

"[Chickpeas] are being transformed into healthier, high-protein versions of classic comfort foods, from pasta and rice to chips and ice cream. And consumers are eating it up."

Recipe to try: Chickpea Blondie Muffins

4. Tempeh

Protein: 20 grams per 100-gram serving

"Made from fermented soybeans, it’s not only a gut-friendly staple, but also one that’s loaded with protein."

Recipe to try: Miso-Ginger Tempeh

5. Pinto beans

Protein: 15 grams per one-cup serving

"There are some pantry foods most people wouldn’t mind eating every night. (Sign me up for repeated pasta dinners!) But there’s one healthy staple likely hiding in your pantry that you may seriously doubt you could eat all week and enjoy: pinto beans."

Recipe to try: Pinto Bean Burrito Bowls

6. Edamame

Protein: 19 grams per one-cup serving

The long (and impressive) list of edamame benefits are one to contend with. "Fun fact: Edamame—immature soybeans cooked and served inside their pods—are higher in protein than chickpeas, lentils, and black beans, *and* are a good source of fiber, folate, and vitamin K."

Recipe to try: Edamame Hummus

7. Tofu

Protein: 20 grams per one-cup serving

"Most people probably feel pretty meh about tofu. And I don’t blame ’em: A few years ago, I certainly wasn’t a member of the tofu fan club either. How could a flavorless brick be anything but boring. Well, when you get creative and cook it properly, that brick turns into a straight-up plant-based dinner superstar."

Recipe to try: Spicy Chipotle Mango Tacos

Here's everything you should know about the benefits of lentils:

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