This is by far THE most common questions vegans get.
“How do you get your protein?”
Truth is, if you’re a vegan you should worry more about Vitamin B-12 than worry about your protein intake. Because getting protein is easier, it is literally in all foods. Vitamin B-12 is non existent in plants.
That being said, it’s always good to pay attention to your diet. If you are channeling Steve Jobs and following a fructarian diet — certainly protein is of concern. Of all the food categories, fruit has the least amount of protein.
Otherwise don’t worry if you have recently switched to a plant based diet. Not only is protein in all foods, but Protein Deficiency is actually really rare and usually occurs in conjunction with malnutrition. Ask yourself this question: Are you getting enough calories? Then you are likely getting enough protein.
To learn more about protein and the vegan diet, check out my vegan journey video:
The US RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of weight.
Per the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) this amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
If you are 68Kg (150 pounds) you can calculate your daily protein requirements with this formula:
68Kg x 0.8 = 55 (54.4) grams
Keep in mind that this calculation is your baseline, especially if you are active and not sedentary. Although the experts have widely varying views, many agree that additional protein is beneficial as long as it is not accompanied with large amounts of saturated fat common in meat and other animal proteins.
You want to increase your protein intake if:
- if you are pregnant
- if you are nursing
- if you are growing (you are a child)
- if you are an endurance athlete
Keep in mind that the average body can only absorb 30 grams of protein in a meal so eating a huge steak with 60 grams of protein for dinner is not necessarily a benefit. Make your meals count when it comes to nutrition, real food has protein, processed food often doesn’t.
Another way to think of protein is think of in terms of percentage of calories. While many vegans say 10% is enough, my personal opinion is that you want to get at least 20% of your calories in protein, and many experts recommend more.
Right now our society think more protein is a good thing, but there has been periods in our history where experts have recommended limiting protein. Food science continues to mature and evolve, but distinguishing between a trend and real advancement of knowledge continues to be a challenge.
Protein exists in quantities when compared to calories in many foods.
Protein as percentage of calories
- Rice – 13%
- Kale – 22%
- Legumes – 28%
- Almonds – 18%
In this chart start from left to right to identify your key plant-based protein groups. The foods on the right are higher in protein than the foods on the left. Make sure each meal has something from each of the below groups.
Have a vegan protein smoothie. We like the Vega Protein Brand.