Healthy Vegan Sources of Protein and Calcium

Posted on by Shreya Manocha

Humans don’t need to eat animal-based foods – and we’re much better off if we don’t. Meat, eggs, and dairy contain cholesterol, saturated fat, concentrated animal protein, and other unhealthy substances. Animal-derived foods contribute to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. According to the World Health Organization, processed meats – which it defines as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, and other processes” – cause cancer and red meat, including beef, pork, and mutton, may also be carcinogenic. Additionally, studies today show the effect of white meat on cholesterol levels is identical to the effects of red meat.

Many people who eat meat, eggs, and dairy obtain excessive amounts of protein. Too much animal protein is linked to the formation of kidney stones and has been associated with cancers of the colon and liver. High protein levels also leach calcium from the body, ultimately causing osteoporosis.

Cows’ milk contains about three times more protein and two times more fat than human milk. It is meant for calves, after all, and they can weigh more than 450 kilograms before their second birthday! The nutrient composition of cows’ milk is only suitable for a calf’s rapid growth rate. The amount of protein in cows’ milk is too high for humans and can cause serious health problems.

Vegan Eating Is Healthy and Humane

Kind, health-conscious individuals eat vegan foods instead of meat, eggs, and dairy in order to live healthily and help stop animal suffering. Animals raised for food suffer intensely, even before they reach the slaughterhouse. Cattle, for example, are often forced to march hundreds of miles in all weather extremes. Chickens are slammed into small crates, and many sustain broken wings and legs. Piglets are torn away from their distraught mothers, their tails are chopped off, the ends of their teeth are snipped off with pliers, and the males are castrated. This all happens before the animals are scalded alive or dismembered while they’re still conscious.

Fortunately, going vegan spares animals and helps humans as well. Vegans are known to have a reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease, and other diet-related issues. To reap the health benefits of a vegan diet – a slim waistline, normal blood pressure, lots of energy, and a reduced risk of developing life-threatening diseases – try eating an array of fruits, veggies, pulses, whole grains, and other vegan foods. Wholesome vegan foods can provide all the nutrients your body needs, including protein and calcium.

Protein-Packed Plant Foods

Almost every food contains protein, so it’s nearly impossible not to get enough if you eat a reasonably varied vegan diet and consume a sufficient amount of calories. Soybeans are packed with protein and essential amino acids. Other pulses as well as nuts, seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, walnuts, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and corn are also good protein sources.

Calcium Plus Compassion

Studies show that eating fruits and vegetables can promote bone health. Calcium is abundant in collard greens, kale, broccoli, pulses, sesame tahini, and almonds. It can also be found in calcium-fortified orange juice, tofu, and vegan milks made from almonds, oats, coconut, rice, or soybeans. Some popular plant milk brands include Sofit, So Good, Urban Platter, One Good, Epigamia, Better Bet, Alt Co., Raw Pressery, Only Earth, Oat Mlk, Just Plants, and Pilk.

For more information on protein, calcium, and cholesterol, please see the charts below and note how much healthier plant foods are than animal-derived foods.

Plant-Based Sources          Serving Size        Protein         Calcium     Cholesterol
Soy chunks                             100 g                   52 g               350 g           0 mg
Kidney beans (boiled)            1 cup             15 g                62 g            0 mg
Amaranth leaves                     100 g                   2.46 g            215 mg        0 mg
Green whole lentils (boiled)   1 cup                    16.44 g           35 mg          0 mg
Turnip greens                          100 g                   1.5 g             190 mg         0 mg
Peanuts                                    100 g                  28 g                61 mg         0 mg
Chickpeas (cooked)                1 cup                   15.65 g            79 mg         0 mg
Spinach                                   100 g                    3 g                 99 mg         0 mg
Sesame seeds                          2 Tbsp                   3 g               180 mg         0 mg
Flaxseeds                                2 Tbsp                  3.5 g               52 mg         0 mg
Animal Sources                  Serving Size       Protein         Calcium      Cholesterol
Eggs                                        1 medium             5.5               23 mg         186 mg
Milk                                        100 ml        3.3 g             117 mg        10 mg
Meat                                        100 g                26.41 g             10 mg          87 mg

If you haven’t already gone vegan, PETA India has lots of resources to inspire and support you! Check out our variety of mouthwatering vegan recipes, and order a free vegan starter kit.