who give up animal foods wonder about vegan protein sources
Are any vegan protein sources listed on the
current food pyramid? Yes. The pyramid includes legumes, nuts, and
seeds as protein sources. Many weight loss diets say to eat vegetables,
fruit, and lean
protein. When they say "lean protein", what they mean is to
eat lean animal flesh. Vegans don't eat animal flesh and we don't need
it to get enough
So how do we get enough protein on a vegan diet?
How much protein do we need?
Before we answer that question, let's first look at some interesting
A human infant grows faster in the first six
months of life than at
any other time.
Infants need more protein per pound of body
adults to fuel their growth.
The ideal food for human infants is
human breast milk.
Human breast milk is 5.9% protein.
The logical conclusion we can draw from this is
that human adults need less than 5.9% of their calories from protein.
Does any official group agree with this?
The U.S. government says we should eat 0.8 grams of
protein for every kilogram of body weight. To use pounds
instead of kilograms, multiply your weight in pounds by
0.363. A person who weighs 154 pounds needs 154 x .363 = 56 grams of
protein per day.
One gram of protein contains 4 calories. So 56
grams of protein is 224 calories of protein. To make the math
easy, a moderately active
154 pound person might burn around 2240 calories per day. So 224
calories out of 2240 calories is approximately 10% of calories
That is double the amount that is actually needed.
It should cover the needs of active children, teenagers, pregnant
women, nursing women, and everyone else!
Which whole plant foods meet this vegan
% Protein in vegetables
Vegetables average about 25% of
calories from protein.
% Protein in legumes
Legumes also average well over 25%
% Protein in whole grains
grains, with around 15%
calories from protein, are another vegan protein source.
% Protein in fruit
Even fruit contains protein!
% Protein in nuts and seeds
Many people eat nuts and seeds
thinking they are great vegan protein sources. Most nuts and seeds
reach the 10%
protein level but they are not as high as vegetables and legumes. And
they are all high in fat. They are
a bigger source of
fat than of protein!
Are there any plant foods that
don't contain protein?
Most people are amazed to
learn that plants contain protein. Every
whole plant food contains protein....even lettuce and
bananas! The only foods from plants that do not contain protein are
refined sweeteners. And they are not whole foods. For example, corn has
protein but corn oil does not. A sugar beet contains protein but
refined sugar does not.
If you are craving a burger, read labels carefully.
Do not buy any meat substitute that contains oil or isolated
soy protein. Other animal products to avoid are cheese, whey,
casein, and egg whites.
Our favorite burgers are called SuperBurgers. They are
made of tempeh, which is a whole soybean product. They are a little
high in sodium so don't eat them every day.
The meat industry spends millions of
dollars on advertising. They want us to believe that animal flesh and
dairy products are the only foods that contain protein. Animal products do contain
protein. They also
contain saturated fat, cholesterol, antibiotics, growth hormones, e
coli, and absolutely no fiber. It is much better to get your protein
Relax and enjoy your vegan meals. Don't worry
about your protein intake. It is easy to get enough protein on a vegan
diet. Every whole
plant food is a vegan protein source!