In the sixteen years that I have not eaten any meat this is the one question I have had to answer the most. “How do vegans get enough protein?” No, I’m not complaining. Most people worry about the same thing, and I must not forget that I had the same concerns before I became vegan. Well, first I was vegetarian for about seven years and I have now been vegan for nine years.
Animal Protein Versus Plant Protein
There are many conflicting opinions, and I can only base my opinion on what I have learned and how my body has benefited from my diet. Now, what are facts and what are opinions?
- Our bodies do not store protein and therefore need to consume protein sources
- Once ingested, proteins are broken down into amino acids
- Many plant proteins are considered incomplete (However, there are some plant-based foods that are complete in protein)
- According to Harvard Health Blog, the required daily protein intake (RDA: Recommended Dietary Allowance) is 0,8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
- You don’t get enough protein on a vegetarian/vegan diet.
- Meat protein is the only good protein
The Protein Myth
Much of what we believe is conditioned. You only need to turn on your T.V. to be assaulted by commercials that are doing their best to make you buy more chicken, beef, burgers, and other protein rich foods. But aren’t we eating too much protein? And when is too much ever good? Have you ever noticed how all these protein-stacked commercials are followed by one medical ad after the other? Pills for indigestion, heartburn, re flux, etc. Hello? Could there be a connection?
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine you do not need meat to get the necessary protein. The protein myth has already been debunked by several dietitians and scientists. You can find a lot of information about it with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Forks over Knives, and many other reliable sources.
I do not eat much soy. I do, however, remember some good advice that my doctor gave me a few months ago, in September 2018. He is not vegan, by the way. I am 46 and he asked me if my menopause had already begun. At the time it hadn’t, so I told him no. He recommended me to eat a lot of soy if my menopause were to start. He stated that it would lower the intensity of hot flashes or make it less bad. Funnily enough, it started only a month later, in October. So, I did increase my soy consumption. Whether it was related or not, in the month of October I got less than a handful of hot flashes which lasted barely a few seconds and were really not bad at all (I had heard so many horror stories about menopause). And that was it. I have had no hot flashes since then and no other discomforts. I simply have no menopause, I just stopped having my periods, period (no pun intended, 😉 ). I am so blessed 🙂
There are some negative articles online about soy, but the sources of these articles are either non-vegan or promoting a meat-eating diet. So, be always careful with the reliability of your sources. Of course, you can say that naturally I am going to write positive things about soy, since I am vegan, and right you are 😉 Nevertheless, although I am no doctor I would not write anything down without doing my research, and I also have my own vegan experience.
Plant-Based Protein Sources
This is the part I love. The plant world is rich in protein sources. There’s so much to choose from. Where do I start?
- Tofu, tempeh, Edamame: very rich protein sources
- Almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios
- Chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Many dark-colored leafy greens (kale, broccoli, etc)
- And the list goes on
I hope that this answers any questions that you may have about getting enough protein in a vegan diet. The advantage of a vegan diet is the variety. There is so much to choose from and I think that that surprises most people.
If you have any doubts or questions, please leave a comment. I will be happy to reply.