The Protein Myth
Nutrition.gov (while I am not a proponent of the USDA’s brand of health related information this is the average American’s go to source for health and the like) provides a chart that outlines the daily recommended intake of protein for men, women and children. For adults they say this is about 5 to 6.5 ounce equivalents or 40-60 grams per day. In truth most people consume about twice this or more with the reason being extremely outdated studies which are often backed by the meat industry.
The most frequently asked question to vegans/vegetarians by meat eaters (and it’s often more of an accusation than a question) is “How do you get enough protein?” This is the most formidable weapon used by the meat industry against those who forgo animal protein as a part of their daily diet. The way in which people obsess about protein intake you would think that a protein deficiency is an epidemic waiting to happen. It’s not. There has been no evidence proving that those who intake only 20 grams of protein are at risk for anything in fact the inverse is actually true.
Protein is not a type of food it is actually a nutrient found in many different types of food. The misconception that meat=protein is one that is perpetuated by media, the USDA and enjoyed fully by a multi-billion dollar industry.
Vegetarian/Vegan athletes? Impossible!
Mac Danzig (pictured above) is a mixed martial artist and UFC fighter and also a vegan.
Joe Namath is a legendary quarterback who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985 and he is likely one of the most well-known vegetarian athletes.
Boston Celtics player Robert Parish (Hall of Fame in 2003) is over seven feet tall and a vegetarian.
Tennis player and feminist extraordinaire Billie Jean King is a vegetarian.
Winner of ten Olympic medals, 9 of them gold, and 1991 Athlete of the Year Carl Lewis is a vegan.
Venus and Serena Williams are vegan (mostly).
All of the aforementioned are highly respected and decorated in their respective sports and each and every one found success without the incorporation of animal protein in their diets.
Animal Protein vs. Plant Protein
A more “complete” protein? This means that is contains all of the amino acids used by our bodies to create protein and ensure that most of the body’s processes take place.
There is an extra step that our bodies must take to break down animal protein
High in fat (particularly saturated) and cholesterol
Proven to contain carcinogens
More variety is needed to acquire a “complete” protein. Quinoa and soybeans are two of the complete plant proteins
The body does not need to take an extra step to break down and utilize plant protein
No fat other than fats that are miniscule or added during food preparation
Do not contain any cancer causing carcinogens
grams of Protein in Vegetables
The following comes from theholykale.com
(1/4 cup; 4 Tbsps)
chia seeds: 12g
Hemp seeds: 10g
Flax seeds: 8g
(1 cup cooked)
Split peas: 16g
Black beans: 15g
Pinto beans: 14g
Lima beans: 15g
(1 cup cooked)
Oat, bran: 7g
Bulgar Wheat: 6g
Corn (1 large cob): 5g
Potato (with skin): 5g
Broccoli (1 cup): 4g
I did not intend for this list to be exhaustive but the link above will provide you with more information on grams of protein in other vegetables. Two of the main reasons meat eaters give for not eating more of those items listed above is price and food preparation/cook time. When you purchase items that are in season you will spend less and also experience produce that tastes better. As far as price is concerned a can of beans even in a specialty store will not cost more than .69 cents or so. Seeds and nuts can be a little more pricey but they are also full of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Grains and oats are inexpensive and like beans can be incorporated into a number of meals. Soaking dried beans or lentils the night before takes as much time as marinating a cut of meat.
I can honestly speak for all vegans/vegetarians and tell you “yes we’re getting enough protein!”