How to eat well without meat

Meat is a widely consumed food in our society, sometimes we even eat more than we should weekly. It is true that meat is a great source of protein for our body, but it is not an essential food in our diet. You just have to know and learn about what foods can replace the animal protein that meat provides us. If you are interested in knowing how to eat well without meat, here we want to inform you about the different foods you can take to replace the animal proteins that meat provides us without giving up a healthy and balanced diet.

Essential nutrients for a healthy meat-free diet

Although foods such as fruits and vegetables, basic in a meatless diet, are a great source of nutrients, there are some that we can easily find in animal products but are more difficult to find in other food products. Therefore, so that we do not have any health problems, it is necessary that our meat-free diet includes the following nutrients:

  • Iron: they help us produce red blood cells that are responsible, in turn, for helping our heart pump oxygen.
  • Proteins: it is a nutrient that acts almost in all parts of our body. If you want to follow a diet without meat, you need to worry about obtaining complete proteins, that is, those that provide us with all the amino acids our body needs.
  • Calcium: it is an important nutrient in bone development and in preventing diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • Zinc: its content helps us to protect the immune system.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: improves our cardiovascular health and prevents diseases of this nature.
  • Vitamin C: it is necessary for our body to process iron of vegetable origin more easily, since it is more difficult to ingest than that of animal origin.
  • Vitamin B12: like iron, it helps us produce red blood cells, prevents diseases such as anemia and is responsible for maintaining healthy skin.
  • Vitamin D: protects our bones like calcium.

List of foods to eat well without meat

Once we have learned about the essential nutrients we need for a balanced diet, then we want to give you a list of foods that can substitute meat and that provide these nutrients.

Tofu or soy milk cheese

Tofu is a food that you can find in several forms: soft, seasoned, marinated or hard. Due to this versatility and its mild flavor, it is an ideal food to accompany it with other foods or use it as a condiment. Tofu is a food rich in protein and calcium, and it also does not contain cholesterol.

Tofu is a great substitute for meat, since it has the same firmness and you can also serve it however you want (baked, sautéed, etc.). To substitute it for the meat, you simply have to freeze it and then defrost it again. In this way, you can achieve a texture very similar to that of meat.


This food is made with wheat gluten, which is the protein contained in the flour of this cereal. Its flavor is very similar to that of meat and you can make it at home or buy it prepared. Seitan is a great source of protein, it does not contain cholesterol and is low in fat, which makes it a good substitute for meat.

Soy protein

It is the extract obtained from soybean oil and is used as a substitute for meat since the same flavor and texture is obtained. With it you get the same amount of protein as with meat and also does not contain fat or cholesterol.


It is made with fermented soybeans and has a sour taste, much like walnuts. It is high in bacteria that help the intestine and is also rich in B vitamins.

Other foods to replace meat

  • Rich in iron: beans, broccoli and raisins.
  • Rich in calcium: soy milk, oatmeal, kale, collard greens, and calcium supplements.
  • Rich in protein: nuts, soy milk, legumes, seeds and peanut butter.
  • Rich in vitamins C, D and B12: oranges, strawberries, oat milk, soy milk, rice milk and cereals.
  • Rich in zinc: cheese, beans and nuts.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: linseed oil.

Example of a meatless diet

Next, so that you know how to eat well without meat, we are going to propose an example of a menu that will help you inspire you to enjoy a balanced and, above all, healthy diet.

  • Breakfast: it has to contribute 20-25% of the daily calories. You can include cereals, calcium-rich drinks such as soy or oat milk (in case you don”t want to drink normal milk) and a piece of fruit.
  • Food: it must contain 40% of the daily calories. It should consist of three courses and include salads or a variety of vegetables as a starter; legumes, rice, seitan or tofu as a main dish; and a piece of fruit for dessert.
  • Snack: its contribution should be 10-15% of calories. You can have a piece of fruit, smoothies with soy or oatmeal, dried fruits like walnuts or almonds or some whole grain cookies.
  • Dinner: your contribution will be 25-30% of the daily calories. You should combine a serving of cooked or raw vegetables with a plate composed of vegetable proteins such as tofu, seitan or quinoa.

In this other article we will tell you how to make a vegetarian menu.

This article is merely informative, here we do not have the power to prescribe any medical treatment or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

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