Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Do Vegans Get Enough Protein?

As a vegan, one of the more frequent questions I'm asked is "if you eat only plants, how do you get enough protein?"

A recent movie review of Forks Over Knives in the Boston Globe speculated that vegans must have a hard time with protein and essential nutrients.

Somehow the average consumer has forgotten that plants are filled with protein (i.e. have you ever heard the term "textured vegetable protein"?)

As a vegan for over 10 years, I've never had any issues with protein, necessary amino acids, or essential nutrients.  I get everything I need from  a simple balanced diet that includes protein rich plants such as spinach, soy, and peanuts.

Here's a useful resource about the protein content in vegetables.

How do vegans get enough protein?  Just pass the spinach!

Here's a few favorite protein rich recipes.

About the only issue vegans have is getting enough B12.   I need about a thimbleful per year!  I can just get it from B12 found naturally in the topsoil that sticks to root vegetables (no matter how much you clean them) or take an occasional supplement extracted from yeast.

No meat, milk, or cheese required!


will snow said...

Yeah, always a comment about my vegan kids too. I like to point out Liam is only in FIRST GRADE and he's bigger than the 3rd graders. No meat/dairy involved since birth.

Lyle said...

Hi John, could you comment on this link:

Am I reading this right? 15 cups of rice daily? Just seeing some logistical issues to get to some of these levels.

Great reference, an area of new interest for me. Thanks for the article.


John Halamka said...

Sure. The table points out why it's nutty to try to eat only one food (i.e. rice or corn) in an attempt to get all your amino acids.

"You would have to eat a lot of the protein source (if there was only one source of protein in your diet) to meet essential amino acid needs."

Best to eat a combination of vegetables and all your amino acids are easily obtained.