Where Do I Get My Protein?

The question I am asked most often when people find out that I am vegan is “where do you get your protein?”

So I thought it might be helpful to talk about where vegans get their protein.

It is a myth that only animal foods contain protein. There is plenty of protein in plant-based foods. For example, spinach has 51% protein, beans have 26% and whole wheat pasta has 16%.

Furthermore, protein is not needed in the amounts that most people think. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average male requires only 4.5% of calories to come from protein. So for an average 150 lb male, he would need only 22.5 grams of protein daily based on a 2000 calorie a day diet. The WHO also recommends a pregnant woman get 6 percent of calories from protein. Most Americans are consuming 20 percent or more.

According to many doctors including Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Neal Barnard, getting enough protein should be of little concern to most people.

How many people do you know who have been diagnosed with a protein deficiency? Additionally, the largest and strongest animals on the planet, such as hippos, bison and elephants are all plant eaters.

The type of protein consumed is equally important as the quantity of protein one consumes.  Animal protein is acid-producing in your body and excess can lead to many issues such as stress on your kidneys and osteoporosis.  The reason is that excess proteins cause an acid load in the blood and in order to neutralize this load, calcium is leached from the bones.

In summary, someone who consumes a well structured plant-based diet will take in plenty of protein and never have to worry about consuming too much.  And plant proteins are complete proteins.  They do supply all the essential and nonessential amino acids.  So it is a myth that vegans must combine certain plant proteins to reach all of their essential and non-essential amino acids.  This fact is even stated by the American Dietetic Association.  So keep enjoying your plant-based or vegan diet and know you will not have to worry about getting too much or too little protein.

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