Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to cut back on your meat intake, chances are you're concerned about getting enough protein - and that's a good thing since protein is an important macronutrient for maintaining strong bones, building muscles, and growing healthy hair. But before you grab any old protein source, it's important to understand that not all proteins are created equal - only some are considered "complete proteins," meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. Allow us to explain:

There are 20 different amino acids that make up protein, and nine of them are called essential amino acids because our bodies can't produce them, so we need to get them from food. Complete protein foods have all nine essential amino acids, whereas other protein-rich foods might not necessarily contain all essential amino acids, says dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin.

If you've eliminated (or significantly cut back) on your meat intake, you need to make sure you're eating plenty of plant-based complete protein foods. Although the amount of protein you need depends on age, sex, and how active you are, the recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. The good news is there's no shortage of choices. Keep reading to discover eight great options, plus delicious ways to incorporate them into your meals. 

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