People who live vegan are often confronted with the prejudice: “But where do you get your protein? It’s only in meat and cheese!”. To show you that this is not true and that you don’t have to worry about it, I’ll tell you today which 10 plant-based foods are the best vegan protein sources.
- What are proteins?
- How much protein do we need in a day and why?
- Animal vs. vegan protein sources
- The best high protein vegan foods
- What else you should know about protein on a vegan diet
The answer to the question of sufficient protein is simple, because almost all plant foods contain protein. So the much better question is, which of these plant foods are the best sources of protein?
First of all, you should know what proteins actually are. Many people always talk about how important they are, but don’t even know what they actually are.
Proteins (also called proteins), are molecules made up of amino acids and are found in every cell. In Greek, the word proton means “the most important”. The name says it all, because proteins are very important and essential for our health. Therefore, it is good if we spend a lot of time on it and take care to cover our needs.
Unfortunately, our body does not have its own protein depot and therefore cannot store proteins. That is why we need to get them from our diet and supply our body with these important building blocks. Proteins are important for the formation of muscles, organs, blood, our enzymes or even hormones.
In addition to the important functions for building cells, proteins also provide energy that keeps us full for a long time.
Proteins are responsible for numerous functions in the body, so it’s important to know how much protein we need for healthy body function and where to find these vegan protein sources.
Proteins are relevant for:
- Immune system
- Cell building
- Muscle building
- Hormone system
- Cell regeneration
The question of the amount of protein needed is easy to answer. According to the DGE (German Nutrition Society, as of 2017), adults up to 65 years of age should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day. So if you weigh 65 kilos, that would be exactly 52 grams of protein a day. Children and adolescents should consume 0.9 grams per body weight from the age of 10. For a child weighing 30 kilos, that would be about 27 grams of protein a day. Vegan or vegetarian athletes need more protein to build muscle to promote and accelerate growth.
I’ll explain exactly how much below, in the practical examples.
The misconception about why animal proteins are better than plant proteins is that the animal components are more similar to our human, endogenous protein and therefore easier for the body to utilize. However, this does not mean that vegan protein sources are not suitable.
Plant-based proteins are considered higher quality, contain more unsaturated fatty acids, and are more easily digested by our bodies. Vegan protein sources also contain fewer calories, cholesterol and unhealthy fats than animal foods. So if you only opt for milk, cheese and meat to build up your protein depot, you’re also taking in more of the undesirable accompanying substances that can promote various diseases.
Plant foods have many different compositions of proteins and amino acids that can be combined to increase bioavailability. Therefore, it is always good to cleverly combine vegan protein sources.
Finding vegan protein sources is no magic trick. As a rule, legumes, nuts, grains and various vegetables contain numerous proteins.
The secret to a healthy lifestyle is a healthy, colorful and balanced diet. This means that we should alternate different foods and not eat a one-sided diet.
Soybeans / Tofu
Soybeans are one of the best vegan protein sources for vegans and vegetarians. You can get soy yogurts or creams, soy milk or tofu. These can be used in many ways and are used in many different products.
There are 38 g of protein in 100 g of dried soybeans. In processed tofu, it is 15.5 g per 100 g. This would already cover part of your daily ration.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are a real superfood! Not only do they provide us with enough protein, but they also provide energy, keep us full and are very good for our brain power. Of course, nut butters and nut drinks also contain valuable proteins that we need every day.
Whether almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia, cashews – salted, sweetened oder fried – there is something for every taste! If you can’t eat nuts, try sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead. With 200 g of peanuts or peanut butter a day, you already cover your entire daily protein requirement (29 g of protein per 100 g).
Legumes / Pulses
Legumes are the perfect vegan source of protein and can be creatively incorporated into your daily cooking. They include:
Dried lentils, for example, contain 23 g of protein per 100 g. Please note that when cooked, the amount of protein is usually halved.
Flax seeds and chia seeds are not only suitable vegan protein sources, but also real all-rounders. They contain additional valuable omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals and can be used in the kitchen in many ways.
You can use flax seeds in bread, take them as a topping for salads or use them as an egg substitute or binder for desserts.
100 g of flax seeds contain about 23 g of protein.
It’s hard to imagine vegan plates without oatmeal. We use them in granola, porridge, as breading, in overnight oats, plant-based drinks, or sweet baked goods. Oatmeal is everywhere and serves as our natural vegan protein source.
They keep us full for a long time, are good energy suppliers and shine with 13 g of protein per 100 g. With a sufficient breakfast, you can already cover a large part of your daily protein needs.
The pseudo grain is not only delicious, but also provides us with micronutrients and essential amino acids. The rice substitute can be eaten sweet or savory as a vegetable stir-fry or patties and keeps us full for a long time. 100 g of raw quinoa contains about 13 grams of protein.
Lupine is on the rise and can now be found in almost every supermarket in the form of non-dairy yogurts, ice cream or other milk alternative products. We find lupine in flour, as meal or as whole seeds. There is a product here for everyone.
They promote muscle building, strengthen our defenses and provide us with amino acids, vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, in addition to proteins.
100 g of ground lupine contain about 40 g of protein!
Hemp seeds are wonderful not only for protein, but also have a particularly beneficial amino acid profile that benefits us. You can use them for baking, cooking, or use them as a topping, though they definitely don’t have any intoxicating effects.
They are rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, many vitamins and have a perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
100 g of hemp seeds contain 20 g of protein.
This nutritional bomb provides us with lots of protein, vitamin C, iron and calcium. It also has a high fiber content and unsaturated fatty acids. Whether popped, baked or cooked, amaranth is versatile and provides us with 15 g of protein per 100 g.
The equivalent of tofu and therefore a super alternative for those who need a change from tofu. The fermented soybeans can be used as a meat substitute and provide valuable vegetable protein and various minerals.
100 grams of tempeh contain 16 grams of protein.
Of course, there are also more great vegan protein sources like broccoli, seitan. wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, or vegan complete protein powders.
As you can see, there is a different amount of protein in many foods. These best vegan protein sources can all be combined with other foods throughout the day. This way you can improve the bioavailability of various nutrients.
A handful of nuts a day, a rich breakfast of oatmeal and legumes with your main course – and your daily protein needs are met. In fact, it’s been proven that some vegans have better protein levels than omnivores.
However, you can also try vegan protein powders or protein bars! 🙂
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