As a vegan I’m constantly being asked where I get my protein from. It’s definitely one of the most dreaded questions in the vegan community. I don’t ever know how to answer, because whatever I say I am either corrected or there is too much information to answer that one question. Short and simple? I get enough protein. Unfortunately, that response doesn’t cut it anymore, I need facts!
Many types of plant-based protein sources: rice, beans, lentils…(theluxuryspot.com)
Protein is a huge topic nowadays, people seem to go crazy into getting the most protein you can get. Although protein is a really important component in our diet it doesn’t need to be raved over like it is. Protein shakes, protein bars, supplements, even protein cookies! We as Americans consume over the amount of protein that is recommended, the USDA recommends, “for people over age 19 is 56 grams of protein per day for men and 46 grams for women. What people are actually eating can be twice that.” (“Lisa Zwirn, Globe Correspondent”).
There are some downsides to consuming too much protein, “Diets that are high in protein may even increase the risk of osteoporosis and kidney disease.” (The Vegetarian Resource Group). That pertains to people intaking way over the amount of protein recommended. We really don’t need as much protein as we think. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, ”Only about one calorie out of every 10 we take in needs to come from protein.”
Humans love protein, we feel it gives us energy, but in fact, healthy carbs can do just that. Carbs contain glucose that streams down into our bloodstream giving us more energy. It is needed by all the cells and organs in our body. So it’s not really protein that gives us energy for a workout is it?
So where exactly do us vegans get our protein…tofu? That is right, but there are many other sources. 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 8 grams of protein, 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa contains 7-9 grams, and 1 cup of cooked beans contains around 15 grams of protein. Those are only SOME of the examples of plant-based protein sources:
Examples of protein sources (ohmyveggies.com)
I decided to take on account of myself and track how much protein I got in a day, without meat, supplements, protein shakes, etc. It was a normal eating day for me, I ate things like beans, peanut butter, and veggies.
I tracked my progress on Chronometer which is an app that tracks what you eat and the nutrition value of the food. I exceeded the amount of protein recommended for my weight and height. Now this is only an account of me but it shows you that as a vegan I do get enough protein.
With all this information about if vegans get enough protein, there is a few percentage that gets less than your standard american diet, “vegans are eating, we find that, typically, between 10-12% of calories come from protein. This contrasts with the protein intake of non-vegetarians, which is close to 14-18% of calories.” So in fact, vegans are getting less protein than a non-vegan/vegetarian, but remember that we don’t need as much protein as you think.
So don’t go all crazy over the idea of getting in a protein bar every morning or taking a huge amount of supplements. You can get protein sources from plant-based foods that are native to this Earth without taking manmade sources, that typically contain many other ingredients that do no good to your body in the first place.
Mangels, Reed. “Protein in the Vegan Diet.” — The Vegetarian Resource Group. The Vegetarian Resource Group, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.
Zwirn, Lisa. “We Don’t Need as Much Protein as We Think We Do – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. Boston Globe, 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.