How to get protein as a vegan
Many people think that as a vegan it is difficult or impossible to meet your protein requirements. This theory persists but is simply wrong. I will explain to you how you can easily get all the proteins your body needs with a plant-based diet.
Why is protein so important?
Proteins are vital because they are the building blocks of our body substances, responsible for the movements of our muscles and an important part of the immune system. As enzymes and hormones, they also regulate important metabolic processes.
Where do vegans get their protein from?
In plants we find all the amino acids that are necessary for the synthesis of protein in our body. So far so good. However, it is also crucial how efficiently we can convert protein sources from individual foods into the body’s own protein. This is called biological value. And because of their similarity to our body’s own proteins, animal proteins are clearly ahead of plant proteins. But that does not mean that we cannot optimally meet our protein needs with a purely plant-based diet. Even those who want to build a lot of muscle can achieve this just as well with a vegan diet.
Better protein intake by combining different foods
In order to get all the essential proteins in a vegan diet, it is advisable to increase the biological value of food. By combining different food groups, we can easily make vegetable protein sources more readily available as building materials for our body. For example, a mixture of beans and corn is ideal. In general, a combination of legumes and grains makes sense. The various amino acid groups contained therein together result in a complete, very high-quality spectrum of amino acids.
Vegetable sources of protein
In general, almost all wholesome foods contain a certain amount of protein. Soy protein, legumes, cereals, nuts and seeds are particularly valuable sources of protein in a vegan diet.
Legumes: various lentils, beans and peas.
Grains & Pseudograins: oat flakes, spelled (whole grain), buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, couscous, millet…
Nuts & Seeds: hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, pistachios, sesame…
How Much Protein is in Your Food?
Anyone who eats a plant-based diet as unprocessed as possible, ensures sufficient energy intake and combines different food groups with one another, usually does not have to worry about an undersupply or oversupply of protein.
Diet is significantly less fun when every single food is weighed. Normally we do not eat isolated foods through meals anyway, but rather combinations of different foods. To get a feel for how much protein there is in your food, I have a few examples here.
Protein content per 100g of food:
Cooked lentils: 10.5g
Cooked kidney beans: 9.6g
Hemp seeds: 34.4g
Sunflower seeds: 26g
Vegetable protein vs. animal protein
Vegetable protein has a clear advantage over animal protein sources. It doesn’t put as much stress on our body as it doesn’t absorb cholesterol and less saturated fat. A plant-based diet, in which the protein requirement is met from wholesome foods and thus contains a lot of fiber, can also prevent diseases of affluence. In terms of energy density, the density of protein in plant foods often exceeds that of animal protein sources.
The top 10 best plant based protein sources:
Black, white, kidney, broad beans or pinto beans – as there aremany different types of beans, their uses are just as varied. Whether in chili sin carne, in salads, wraps and burritos or as an antipasti on crostinis, as a warm puree or as a dip or something unusual but unusually tasty in chocolatey-sweet brownies – there are no limits to the imagination when cooking and baking vegan with beans.
Tofu can be marinated, grilled, fried and or baked; it can be processed whole or crumbled and in pureed form it is an ideal base for delicious sauces, smoothies and creams. Smoked or refined with tomatoes, olives or herbs, it is suitable cut as a topping on bread. The fact that tofu, which can be found in the form of sliceable variants up to silken tofu depending on the water content, takes on any flavor, making it suitable for many recipes – from spicy and hot to sweet.
There is a wide range of different nuts and kernels that are botanically not nuts, but are colloquially counted among them (examples: cashews, Brazil nuts, peanuts). They can all be used in a variety of ways and are suitable, for example, for making nut butter, vegetable milk and vegan “cheese variants”.
They are also great for a quick and healthy snack, either straight or seasoned.
It may not be as well known as tofu, but it is just as versatile. It’s is made from whole cooked and fermented soybeans that are formed into a firm, slightly nutty-tasting block. Like tofu, tempeh can take on any taste and can be grilled, deep-fried and baked. Tempeh goes well with noodle and vegetable dishes, on pizza and sandwiches. The form of production ensures a high protein and fiber content and the good bioavailability of proteins and minerals.
Chickpeas are very versatile legumes. They are characterized by a high proportion of the essential amino acid lysine. They go well with salads, wraps and stews. The mashed beans can be used to form patties and, when mixed with sesame paste, make hummus.
Low in calories, high in vitamins K and C, and a good source of protein. Steamed broccoli is good for pasta and stir-fry dishes, but also for salads. It goes well with soups both whole and pureed.
The amazing pseudo-grain quinoa can be used in a similar way to rice. Quinoa is suitable as a side dish, can be mixed with vegetables and is a good base for salads when cold. Quinoa can be used to form patties and it is also good in baked goods. The iron and folic acid-rich pseudo-grain can be a pleasure when prepared as a sweet.
These protein-rich legumes are also suitable for spontaneous people because of their shorter soaking and cooking times than beans or peas. Cooked lentils are also suitable cold for salads or patties and they are very popular in healthy fast food with a Mexican touch, such as tacos or burritos all of these dishes are great to get protein as a vegan.
Potatoes are usually associated with a high carbohydrate content. These tubers, which are relatively low in calories and rich in vitamin C, also contain proteins. The protein quality, i.e. its usability and its amino acid composition, is very high. The protein of the potato thus has a high biological value, much higher than that of other frequently consumed plants.
Grains are generally characterized by a good protein content, including oats. The oat flakes are a good base for any muesli or cereal porridge. The combination with protein-rich plant drinks also increases the biological value. You can also make a slightly nutty-tasting plant drink from oats themselves. Oat flakes also give patties and sweet baked goods the necessary bite. Oats are a necessity for every person that wants to get protein as a vegan.