Can you meet your daily protein requirements without eating any meat, eggs, milk or cheese? Yes, it is possible, because there is plenty of protein in plant-based foods. Read on to learn why proteins are so important for our body and which are the best vegan protein sources.
Proteins are made up of numerous amino acids linked together in different combinations. Each protein has a unique number and sequence of amino acids. The number and arrangement of these "protein building blocks" ultimately determine the function of the protein in our body.
Proteins fulfill numerous vital functions in our body:
We distinguish between essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body itself. We have to take them in through food, by eating foods with a high protein content.
The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a daily protein intake of 0.8 g protein per kg body weight for adults between the ages of 19 and 65. An adult woman weighing 60 kg should therefore consume about 48 g of protein per day. For comparison, an egg contains about 13 g of protein, and a 100 g steak contains 25 g of protein.
Animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs and milk contain all the essential amino acids we need and easily cover our daily protein requirements. But what if you want to do without these foods – for health, environmental or animal welfare reasons?
The good news first: all essential amino acids are found in plants as well. It is therefore quite possible to cover your daily protein requirement purely through plant-based foods.
For an optimal protein intake, your vegan diet should be balanced and varied. Because, unlike animal products, plant-based foods usually contain only some of the essential amino acids. To fully cover your daily requirement, your need to combine different plant protein sources.
Ideal, of course, are plant foods whose protein contains as many essential amino acids as possible. Unfortunately, a food’s nutritional value generally cannot be seen from the outside. That is why it’s best to know at least some of the best plant protein sources.
Protein content per 100g: 20 to 25 g depending on the variety
Beans come in many varieties, but they all have one thing in common: they contain a whole lot of plant protein! Plus points for their high iron, potassium, and magnesium content.
Protein content per 100g: 10 to 15 g
Tofu is made from soybeans. It is a classic in both vegetarian and vegan cuisine and can be prepared in a myriad different ways. By the way, our body can utilize proteins from soy particularly well. Tofu also provides iron, folic acid, B vitamins and calcium.
Protein content per 100g: 10 to 20 g depending on the variety
Eaten pure, i.e. without added salt, fat or sugar, nuts are a healthy snack and provide plenty of protein. Cashews, peanuts and almonds are particularly high in protein. Try adding a teaspoon of peanut butter to your breakfast cereal or smoothie for a change!
Protein content per 100g: 10 to 20 g
Chickpeas are particularly rich in the essential amino acids lysine and threonine, which are important for healthy bones and skin, among other things. Chickpeas are also an excellent source of iron and calcium.
Protein content per 100g: 15 to 25 g
These protein-rich legumes are part of cuisines all over the world, from India to France and Ethiopia to Mexico. And for good reason! They are inexpensive, healthy and versatile to prepare, which makes them a great staple, not just for vegans.
If you make sure to include a combination of different plant-based protein-rich foods in your diet every day, you will have no trouble meeting your needs.