“How Do Vegans Get Protein?”
This is a question every vegan gets asked a million times. Your sitting around the table at a family dinner, with a plate full of veggies, and some relative asks you with concern, “what about getting your protein?” Do your best not to get annoyed, It’s a super popular misconception that without animal products we will shrivel up and perish from lack of protein. Their concern is valid, protein is a critical nutrient, and we’ve been groomed as a society to believe that the meat on our plate is the primary source of protein. Well it definitely doesn’t have to be! In this article you’ll find some helpful talking points that you can use to ease the worried minds of your friends and family.
The Simple Explanation: Remember Popeye ?
Back in the day, Popeye was the iconic muscle man. A super powered sailor using his brawn to beat back the bad guys and save the day. His protein of choice? Spinach. This wasn’t a coincidence! 51% of the calories in spinach are protein, that’s about equal to chicken or fish. Broccoli has more protein per calorie than steak! That’s right, i’ll say it again, Broccoli has more protein than steak.
The Science Explanation: Plant Diet Protein Breakdown
Research has shown that all plants contain protein, and out of the total calories of every edible plant, at least 14% are protein. So if you consume a fully plant based, 2000 calorie/day diet, a minimum 280 of those calories will be protein. You then divide 280 by 4 (because 1 gram of protein consists of 4 calories), and you will find that you’re consuming 70G of protein/day. This meets the daily recommended value for men, and exceeds the daily recommended value for women (not an issue). Keep in mind this calculation is performed using the minimum protein content of 14%, and high protein veggies like spinach has a protein content of 51%.
Long story short, the idea that meat is the most important source of protein is a thought that has long been drilled into our heads. Big food, just like big pharma, and big tobacco, is highly invested in people holding false knowledge about their foods and what they should be consuming. The truth is that protein is a supremely important nutrient, and it’s a nutrient that is found abundantly in all plants that we eat. If you are an athlete, either vegan or traditional, its recommended to take an extra protein supplement because your body will require more protein than usual to recover from workouts. However compared to the standard american diet (SAD) your plant based diet is not lacking, at all.