Sources of Vegan Protein | Part II

Top of the morning to you, loves! Let’s finish our Protein conversation, shall we?

If you ever wondered about this or had someone as you personally: “So, where do vegans get their protein?” you might want to read on. However, make sure that you read Part I of Where do You get Protein? first. [Both, this current installment and the last article will also help any questions about protein source for anyone doing a Daniel Fast.]

Let’s get to it! But first, check out what vegan protein does for my husband’s muscle growth:

Which foods are good sources of Protein?

The amazing part of the answer is that most plants have some protein in them. It is truly unfortunate that the dairy and the meat companies along with media created this myth that the only true source of protein we have is animal products.

History proves that it was not always so. Actually, it was not until the beginning of the 20th century, as the wages started to go up and employment was not as scarce as it was for centuries passed, that a common man was even able to afford such luxury foods as eggs, milk, cheeses and, especially meat. When I was growing up overseas, we did not have meat in every meal we consumed. Most of our meals were plant based and only occasionally did we have a chicken to share among the entire family in a week’s time. Milk was more readily available, but dairy products, such as cheeses, were more of a special occasion treat. Interestingly enough we were no sicker than the Americans. On the contrary, the population of our country was slimmer, with less coronary related diseases, and very few cancer cases compared to the American statistics. The allergies were not very common as well as obesity was almost an unknown phenomenon.

So, where did we get our protein? Are you ready for the answer?! Same place animals do, of course—Plants!

It is almost naïve to think that animals, somehow miraculously covert sunshine or air into protein in their bodies. The animals eat grass (for the most part, or at least they should, as God intended it), and then their bodies extract needed nutrients to make protein, just like ours do. So, as you can see, we can, in fact, get a better quality protein by skipping the middle “man”, by going straight to the source.

Here are just a few sources that will give you an idea of where to look for protein: oatmeal, brown rice, peas, lentils, legumes, nuts, dark colored greens, etc. Just to give you an idea of how easy it is to get your daily protein intake, here is a comparison between animal and plant protein:

  • 100 calories (about 1.5 oz.) of steak has 13 grams of protein

  • 100 calories (15 oz.) of spinach has 12 grams of protein

  • 100 calories (2 tablespoons) of raw chickpeas has 5 grams of protein

  • Sweet fruit averages about 4-8% protein

  • Leafy greens and veggies are about 15 to 20% protein

  • Sprouts [the most digestible source of protein] are up to 35% protein of their content

So, next time you start worrying about your protein needs being met, think about the simplest most digestible form of protein available—plant protein; skip the middle “man” (animal products) and get straight to the source.

How much protein should we eat each day?

The average American consumes 15-20% of protein, which is much higher than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 10%. 10% dietary protein is equivalent to eating about 50-60 grams of protein per day. The national average of 15-16% is about 70-100 grams of protein.

World Health Organizations recommends only 5% of calorie intake as protein, 6% for pregnant women and 7% for women who are nursing. Interestingly, these numbers were doubled only in about the last 25+ years, as before that, the recommended percentage of protein intake were about 2.5-10% of our daily food intake. By these figures, even if you are an avid athlete and are burning 3,000 calories a day, you need only around 37 grams of protein. By looking at the figures I have provided above you can easily realize how effortless it is to get all the protein you need in just a few servings of plant foods.

source 

These days, most people suffer from protein overdose, resulting in many of our modern day illnesses. If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

As far as I know, and I have studied this subject extensively and applied it in my own life, there is more than ample protein in the raw/vegan food diet.

Is too much protein bad for you?

Glad that you asked! It is a question that begs to be answered, especially following the statements I had just made.

The only harmful protein that you can consume is animal protein. The more you consume of it, the more risk you are placing yourself in and making yourself more susceptible to various diseases, such as coronary diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, various forms of cancer, skin problems, hormone imbalances, etc.

On the other hand, studies have shown (refer to The China Study) that plant protein, regardless of how much of it you consume, is not harmful at all. It is also important to note that when we consume whole plant based diet (i.e. unprocessed and as close to its natural state as possible) it is almost impossible to overeat on any give nutrient. From my observation and personal experience I find it altogether impossible. The rich content of fiber, enzymes, vitamins, nutrients and minerals makes you feel full faster, thus preventing overeating.

There are some health concerns, however, when isolated plant protein is consumed.

Protein conversion

Protein, when consumed, is converted by our bodies into energy. The process can be likened to gas to energy conversion in cars. The cleaner the gas the less toxicity is involved. As with cars, you don’t want any toxic residue staying behind in your body and poisoning you from within. To avoid toxic pollution internally you have to take the cleanest form of protein possible—plant protein.

On a plant based diet, since protein intake is cleaner and less in quantity than average intake on SAD (Standard American Diet) the body is able to operate more efficiently and utilize every bit of protein you give it. If you do not agree with me, just think about all Thanksgiving dinners you have been to, where animal protein is to be the king. Instead of becoming more energetic after eating all turkey and ham imaginable, the pants and belts get loosened, happy eaters slide back in their seats to give room for air to get into their lungs, and go into “protein” coma. Their bodies work extra hard to push the dead weight (pun intended) of animal flesh down to their stomach, where it sits anywhere between 4-7 hours and then into the intestinal tract. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly call this kind of protein “life giving”. Living foods, such as vegetables and greens, take less than an hour to pass through your stomach and head on into the intestinal tract.

Another thing you should consider is the design of the human body. Our gastro-intestinal tract is long and increases the transit time of food from the time of its intake to the time of its disposal. If foods are consumed that are devoid of fiber, such as animal food, we end up with a lot of putrefaction—rotting of animal protein our bodies are trying to digest.

Pick quality Protein sources!!!

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you don’t need to consume flesh foods (that included dairy as well) to meet your protein needs. Eat foods that make sense—foods that are easily digestible and are easy to eliminate; foods that will give you energy instead of foods that will deprive you of energy. Think long-term, not immediate pleasure.

Parting Thought

Animal protein, such as found in milk, is only 50% digestible by the human body. Plant and human protein, such as found in breast milk, is 100% digestible. You do the math what’s best for you! I know what works for us :)!


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Comments

  1. I know this is an older post, but hopefully you will see this! I’m wondering how much to worry about protein with pregnancy. My midwives are having me track my diet for a week and want me to get 100g of protein each day. I’ve never thought of it before. Tracking, there are days I do, though now I’m purposefully looking for things. But other days I don’t and I’m not hungry to go eat some more to hit that number. Yesterday I think I only got to 50g. The only reason I became concerned is because my urine test showed that I was slightly low in protein. Though maybe it’s part of new job and trying to pack enough food, which I still haven’t figured out so I get hungry at work. Anyway, ya, so just not sure. I have to wait a month before I’m in again to see what the urine shows so. feels like a long wait.

    • Amanda, hi! Check out this Vegan Pregnancy resources I have–you will find them very helpful http://www.vega-licious.com/books/achieving-sustaining-healthy-pregnancy/.

      I am not sure where your midwives get their information, but it is sad and ludicrous to have to track your protein intake. I could not even imagine doing that or having to figure out how much protein is in what food, let alone ensure you are eating a certain amount of it. I had a fantastic vegan pregnancy–never had to count anything, worked out 10 hours a week and delivered a healthy baby, who has grown to be a healthy toddler. We simply eat a variety of plant foods. Period! As long as you are eating whole foods, not junk, and take your B12, you should be fine. You eat when you are hungry, and eat until you feel satiated. Very simple. Your urine tests should be just fine–mine were.

  2. moises ramos says:

    The picture of your husband doesn’t look like he lifts weights, he looks like he just wants to be fit, but I don’t see huge muscles. Is that because plant protein is not strong enough?

  3. Everything I read about protein requirements state that protein requirements are based on weight and activity of individual. Your blanket number of 37 grams which would only provide an person with about 120 calories just doesn’t seem to fit with a lot of other nutritional info.

  4. Hi Elena, I saw you mentioned that 2 tablespoons of raw chickpeas have 5 grams of protein. But we would not eat raw chickpeas. Would the amount of protein be lower in cooked chickpeas?

  5. Great resource, thank you!!!

  6. Great information. I am 66 years old, Always a plant eater, but I have heart disease. So I am going vegan starting yesterday. I have a heart procedure scheduled, and I am hoping it is my last one.

  7. Awesome post Elena!!! Now I can send this to all the veggie haters LOL!!! 🙂

  8. Wow – what a timely post. I wish I had this last week! I went to my first prenatal appt and my eating habits came up in conversation. I’ve been eating only 95% vegan during my first trimester, mostly because I had horrible morning sickness and sometimes cheese was the only thing that was appealing to me (I am lactose intolerant and have not eaten cheese in 12 years!) He asked me how I was getting my protein and I explained my diet – veggies, beans, lentils, tempeh, quinoa, nuts/seeds, etc. He said “sounds great” and that was that. He is not vegan himself, but he runs marathons and he is very knowledgeable about nutrition. This is the first doctor I have EVER seen that did not give me a hard time about my protein intake. It was so nice and refreshing!!!!! When will the rest of the medical community follow suit?

    • Jenna, one day it happens. There is a vegan physicians organization now that numbers in the thousands! http://www.pcrm.org I am glad that you know your stuff. My pregnancy was amazing–I was high raw vegan all the way through, and my birthing experience was great–no drugs, just me, my body and my baby in water :). The health aspect was awesome, since I lost all of my baby weight in less than two months, and most of it in one week post partum!

      • whizzDebbie Green says:

        Hi Elena, did you become pregnant after 40? What other superfoods/supplements would you suggest taking. I am over 40 and would love to fall pregnant again but was told by Naturpath That I need to have good amounts of protein to make good egg and sperm because sperm and egg is 50% protein it is essential to eat enough protein. How much is enough? What other improvements would you suggest to ward getting pregnant being over 40?

  9. Iwilliammarshall says:

    You get tired from the tryptophan in turkey not the protein. And large amounts of blood going to work on digestion.

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