There are many ways to get protein on a dairy-free and soy-free diet. Good options include beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, protein powders made from pea or rice, and more. With planning, you can meet your protein needs without relying on dairy or soy.
Plant-Based Protein Sources
For those avoiding dairy and soy due to allergies, intolerances or personal preferences, look to these plant-based foods to meet your protein needs:
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are excellent sources of plant-based protein. Here are some good options and their protein content per cooked cup:
Try incorporating beans and legumes into dishes like chilis, stews, salads, dips and soups. Canned varieties are quick and convenient. Be sure to drain and rinse them to reduce sodium content.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are very versatile options for boosting protein intake. They make great snacks, additions to salads, yogurt replacements in smoothies, and more. Some good choices include:
|6g per 1 oz
|6g per 1 oz
|4g per 1 oz
|10g per 3 tbsp
|4g per 2 tbsp
Aim for a variety of nuts and seeds to get a range of nutrients in addition to protein. They are calorically dense though, so portion control is important.
Whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and oats also provide protein. Here are the amounts in 1 cooked cup:
Try using these whole grains instead of rice, pasta or couscous in dishes. They add a protein punch along with other nutrients like fiber, antioxidants and minerals.
Tofu and Tempeh
For a soy-free diet, avoid tofu and tempeh which are made from soybeans. But there are some dairy-free protein options made from other beans and grains to consider instead:
|10g per 1/2 cup
|Black Bean Tempeh
|21g per 1/2 cup
Use them in stir fries, sandwiches, buddha bowls and other dishes as you would tofu. They offer similar protein and texture.
Animal-Based Protein Sources
For those who include animal products in their diet, these are good dairy-free, soy-free options:
Eggs are packed with high quality protein. One large egg provides about 6g protein. Use them for breakfast scrambles, bakes, omelets and other dishes.
Chicken and turkey provide lean protein without dairy or soy:
|Chicken Breast (1/2 breast)
|Ground Turkey (4oz)
Aim for skinless cuts and moderate portions since poultry does contain saturated fat. Use it diced in salads, stir fries, wraps, casseroles and more.
Fish and Seafood
Most fish and seafood are naturally dairy-free and soy-free. Some good options include:
|Wild Salmon (4oz)
|Cod (4 oz)
|Shrimp (4 oz)
Aim for 2-3 servings of low mercury fish or seafood per week. Bake, grill, broil or air fry and add to salads, grain bowls, tacos and more.
Beef, Pork and Lamb
Beef, pork and lamb offer protein as well. Stick to leaner cuts and moderate portions. Some good options include:
|Ground Beef – 90/10 (4oz)
|Pork Tenderloin (4oz)
|Ground Lamb (4oz)
Use them in moderation in chilis, stir fries, kabobs, meatballs and other dishes.
Protein powders can help supplement your intake, especially if you are very active. Choose a dairy-free, soy-free variety made from:
|Protein (per scoop)
Add to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods and yogurt replacements. Pea and rice proteins are the most mild in flavor.
Sample High Protein Meals and Snacks
To give you an idea of how to plan protein-rich meals and snacks without dairy or soy, here are some recipe ideas:
|Tofu veggie scramble with tempeh bacon
|Overnight oats with chia seeds, almond milk and fruit
|Quinoa bowl with hemp seeds, almond butter and blueberries
|Smoothie with pea protein, almond milk, banana and nut butter
|Chickpea tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
|Lentil soup with quinoa
|Veggie burrito bowl with beans, rice, avocado, salsa
|Buddha bowl with tempeh, quinoa, roasted veggies
|Turkey meatballs with zucchini noodles and tomato sauce
|Chicken stuffed peppers with brown rice and marinara sauce
|Salmon with wild rice pilaf and roasted asparagus
|Vegetarian chili with black beans over baked sweet potato
|Trail mix with nuts and seeds
|Apple with nut butter
|Bean dip with whole grain crackers or veggies
Tips for Getting Enough Protein
Follow these tips to help meet your daily protein needs on a dairy-free, soy-free diet:
- Aim for 0.8-1g protein per kg body weight, or 0.36g per pound.
- Spread protein intake throughout the day with food and snacks.
- Choose plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains.
- Incorporate eggs, poultry, fish and lean meat if you eat animal products.
- Use pea, rice or hemp protein powders to supplement if needed.
- Read labels when buying packaged foods for protein content.
- If low on time, keep canned beans, ready-to-eat hardboiled eggs, frozen edamame on hand.
With a little planning, you can definitely get all the protein you need without relying on dairy or soy. Follow a balanced approach focusing on whole foods.
Sample Weekly Meal Plan
Here is an example one week meal plan meeting protein needs without dairy or soy:
|Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1/2 cup quinoa with hemp seeds and fruit
|Lunch: Lentil soup with whole grain crackers
|Dinner: Baked chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato
|Snack: Hummus and veggie sticks
|Breakfast: Pea protein smoothie
|Lunch: Chickpea tuna salad sandwich with carrot sticks
|Dinner: Ground turkey lettuce wraps with jalapeño and tomato
|Snack: Roasted edamame
|Breakfast: Nut granola with chia seeds and almond milk
|Lunch: Black bean burrito bowl
|Dinner: Tofu veggie stir fry with quinoa
|Snack: Apple with almond butter
|Breakfast: Veggie omelet with whole grain toast
|Lunch: Egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread
|Dinner: Salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato
|Snack: Cottage cheese and fruit
|Breakfast: Overnight oats
|Lunch: Quinoa salad with chickpeas, nuts and balsamic dressing
|Dinner: Vegetable curry with chickpeas over brown rice
|Snack: Rice cakes with nut butter
|Breakfast: Veggie scramble with tempeh bacon
|Lunch: Leftover quinoa salad
|Dinner: Fish tacos with black bean salsa
|Snack: Protein smoothie
|Breakfast: Tofu veggie scramble
|Lunch: Lentil veggie soup
|Dinner: Veggie burgers with sweet potato fries
|Snack: Trail mix
Potential Nutrient Shortfalls
When following a dairy-free, soy-free diet, be aware of a few nutrients you may need to pay more attention to get enough of:
Dairy products are high in calcium, so avoid relying on them. Eat plenty of leafy greens, calcium-fortified plant milks and juices, tofu, tempeh, beans, figs, sesame seeds and tahini. Consider a supplement if concerned.
Since dairy is fortified with vitamin D, find other vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, sardines, eggs, mushrooms and fortified non-dairy milk or orange juice. A supplement, or just 15 minutes of sun daily, can help too.
Dairy and soy milk are often fortified with vitamin B12. Take a supplement or use nutritional yeast to get B12. Also eat eggs, fish and meat if you include them in your diet.
Dairy isn’t a great source of iron but does help with absorption. Eat iron-rich plant foods like beans, lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds and cashews. Consider having vitamin C like citrus with meals to enhance iron absorption.
Recipes to Try
Here are some delicious dairy-free, soy-free recipes to help you get enough protein in your diet:
– Berry Protein Smoothie Bowl
-Southwest Tofu Scramble
-Pumpkin Spice Granola
-Curried Red Lentil Soup
-Lentil Walnut Loaf
-Lentil Sloppy Joes
-White Bean Turkey Chili
-Black Bean Burgers
-Chickpea Tuna Salad Sandwiches
-Quinoa Protein Breakfast Bowl
-Buckwheat Stir Fry with Tempeh
-Amaranth Porridge with Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and Seeds
-Basil Hemp Pesto Zoodles
-Almond Flour Protein Bars
-Sunflower Seed Bread
Tofu and Tempeh
-BBQ Tofu Veggie Kabobs
-Coconut Curry Tempeh
-Crispy Baked Tempeh Nuggets
Poultry and Fish
-Baked Honey Mustard Salmon
-Cajun Spiced Chicken Breasts
-Chicken Quinoa Greek Salad
Eating dairy-free and soy-free does not have to mean missing out on protein. With delicious whole food options like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, poultry and meat, you can easily meet your protein needs. Include lean proteins at meals and snacks. Supplement if needed with pea, rice or hemp protein powders. With a balanced approach, you can thrive without dairy or soy.