Monday, May 02, 2011

But where are you going to get your protein?!

This question comes up all the time when I tell people that I'm not eating meat (and even more when I mention that I don't eat other animal things either)...where are you going to get your protein? Many people that ask do so with the look of supreme knowledge that vegetarians are going to somehow die of lack of protein, but that isn't even a vague issue. The National Cattlemen's Association and the United Poultry Farmers have worked long and hard to convince the American public that we need lots and lots of protein, (not to mention the promotion of the myth that we need animal sources of iron and calcium, not true, either) but it just isn't true. Too much protein has its own inherant health issues, but lets get back to how vegans get plenty.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends .5g of protein per kg for the average adult. To get your weight in kg, just divide the pounds by 2.2. So that means that my overweight self (I will admit to weighing a hefty 175 right now) needs only about 40 grams of protein a day to be perfectly healthy. The USDA's RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)says that we need .8g per kg. Of course, the USDA is pretty much run by factory farm giant corporations. But I'll figure that out for you anyway...for the same weight at .8grams per kg, I'd need 63.64 grams of protein a day. That's still well below what the meat folks would like you to believe, and what will cause heart and arterial disease as well.

So now that I know that I only need somewhere between 40-64 grams of protein a day, where is a vegan to get it? Easy! Here are some unexpected sources:

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour is 46 grams
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein(TVP), dry is 24. (Fake meat ingredient)
1 cup soybeans, cooked, boiled (edamame) is 22.07
1 cup wheat flour, whole grain is 16.41
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, shelled is 16.4
1/2 cup of whole almonds is 15.17
2 TBSP brewer's yeast is 14
1 cup wheat flour, white, all purpose is 12.91
1 cup yellow cornmeal is 9.91
1 cup cooked peas is 8.24
1/2 cup quinoa (keen-wa, a very yummy grain) is 8.14
1 1/2 TBSP Red Star nutritional yeast is 8
1/2 cup pinto beans, cooked is 7.7
1/2 cup kidney beans, cooked, 7.7
1 cup of SPINACH, cooked has 7.62
1/2 cup black beans, cooked 7.6
1/2 cup navy beans, cooked is 7.5
1/2 cup chickpeas/garbanzo beans, cooked is 7.3
1/2 cup vegetarian baked beans, canned is 6
1 cup of BROCCOLI, cooked, is 5.70
and 1 cup long-grain brown rice, cooked is 5.03

Source: USDA Nutrient Database via "Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Foods" by Alicia C. Simpson.

As you can see, the beans aren't even at the top of the list of power protein foods. If I have a cup of rice and some broccoli, I'm already over 1/4 the way to having enough protein. This also doesn't list the protein found in soy foods like soy yogurt and tofu. So please put to rest the myth that vegetarians and vegans don't get enough protein, it simply isn't true.

1 comment:

Stephanie Ann said...

I'm a vegetarian and people tend to think we are unhealthy too. There's no possible way I am unhealthier now than I was eating all of that unhealthy stuff.

I also don't get as sick as much as I used to anymore. I used to be sick all of the time. Some people think it is because of the chemicals they use to treat sick animals. I never thought of that and didn't think it would have been a benefit when I stopped eating meat.