How can I get protein without dairy and soy?

Quick Answer

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:

Food Protein (g)
Chickpeas 14.5
Black Beans 15
Lentils 17.9
Kidney Beans 15.4

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:

Food Protein (g)
Almonds 6g per 1 oz
Pistachios 6g per 1 oz
Walnuts 4g per 1 oz
Hemp Seeds 10g per 3 tbsp
Chia Seeds 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

Whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and oats also provide protein. Here are the amounts in 1 cooked cup:

Food Protein (g)
Quinoa 8
Amaranth 9
Buckwheat 6
Oats 6

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:

Food Protein
Chickpea Tofu 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:

Protein (g)

Chicken Breast (1/2 breast) 24
Ground Turkey (4oz) 24

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:

Food Protein (g)
Wild Salmon (4oz) 22
Cod (4 oz) 19
Shrimp (4 oz) 24

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:

Food Protein (g)
Ground Beef – 90/10 (4oz) 22
Pork Tenderloin (4oz) 24
Ground Lamb (4oz) 20

Use them in moderation in chilis, stir fries, kabobs, meatballs and other dishes.

Protein Powders

Protein powders can help supplement your intake, especially if you are very active. Choose a dairy-free, soy-free variety made from:

Type Protein (per scoop)
Pea Protein 15-25g
Rice Protein 15-25g
Hemp Protein 10-15g

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
Protein smoothie
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:

Monday 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
Tuesday Breakfast: Pea protein smoothie Lunch: Chickpea tuna salad sandwich with carrot sticks Dinner: Ground turkey lettuce wraps with jalapeño and tomato Snack: Roasted edamame
Wednesday 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
Thursday 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
Friday 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
Saturday Breakfast: Veggie scramble with tempeh bacon Lunch: Leftover quinoa salad Dinner: Fish tacos with black bean salsa Snack: Protein smoothie
Sunday 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.

Vitamin D

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.

Vitamin B12

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

Whole Grains

-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.

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