A question that I get asked a lot when I tell people that I am vegan, is where do you get your protein? The truth is it really isn't that hard. Generally I don't eat crap food, and the crap food I do eat is usually some kind of protein bar.
So first of all lets focus on what it is that we do need. According to this study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, a grown adult only needs about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight to basically keep breaking down muscle mass. So lets add .1 for good measure for the following calculation. As a 160 lb man, I would need 80 grams of protein per day!
So then how do we get to the magic number of 80 grams a day. Well for me, I always like to start my day with a protein shake. It was something I started when I began to focus on the nutrition aspect of weight loss, and I've just kind of kept up with it. I vary which one I use on a regular basis, but I usually rotate through the Vega One Nutritional Shake-Berry, Vega Sport Performance Protein Vanilla, Vega One Nutritional Shake-French Vanilla, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal - Vanilla
, Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Powder - Vanilla
, and some other Hemp, Pea, and Rice proteins that I come across. So that's usually good for about 20 grams of protein in the morning. Hey look at that I'm already a quarter of the way to my daily protein intake and I haven't even chewed yet!
Now where do I get my protein when chewing? Well this part is easy. I eat food, mostly plants. That means I don't eat that prepackaged frozen food. and I really don't eat much pasta or bread! So lets look at some nutritional facts.
1 cup of spinach has a 1 gram of protein.
1 cup of kale has 3 grams of protein.
1 cup of chopped broccoli has 2.6 grams of protein
1 cup of chopped carrots has 1.5 grams of protein
1 cup of shredded cabbage has 1 gram of protein
1 cup of shredded onion has 1 gram of protein
a cucumber has 2 grams of protein
a tomato has 1 grams of protein
1/2 cup of corn has 8 grams of protein
HOLY CRAP IS THAT A 20 GRAM OF PROTEIN SALAD BEFORE DRESSING!?! Now add some black beans (21 grams for 1/2 a cup!), or lentils (25 grams for 1/2 a cup), or even on the lighter side some sunflower seeds (7.25 grams for a 1/4 cup), and you have just made some protein awesomeness!
But for the sake of this article lets not add beans to the salad because guess what were having for dinner! That's right, lentils and quinoa! If you've never tried it, its awesome and as easy to cook as brown rice. Give it a try its awesome. Anyway a cup of quinoa and a 1/2 cup of lentils, and boom! 49 grams of protein.
So lets add that up shall we? 20 grams from the morning shake, 20 grams from my awesome lunch salad, and 49 grams from dinner! Look at that I'm over my requirement! I'm not even taking into account the fact that I put soy milk into my coffee, or that I have a protein shake after I workout, or that I sometimes have a shake or a Cliff Builder Bar or ProBar Core Bar if I get hungry during the afternoon! I've also been known to eat an apple and almond butter as a snack! Trust me I get WAY more than 80 grams of protein a day and I don't even try!
That leads me to the athletics side of things. I've read in a few places that you should aim to get 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you are "an athlete", and that consequently that's why its so hard to be a vegan athlete... I submit the above as testimonial, that in reality its not that hard. It does however require planning and forethought. Now one other thing to mention is the fact that vegetable sources of protein don't have the "essential amino acids". These are the ones the body can't produce. But there's a simple solution to this! You eat a variety of plants, which each have different amino acids, and presto you can ensure that you get the variety of amino acids that your body needs! Well hell our salad was a good mix! In fact I don't think we had any protein from the same source all day today! So bottom line is that it can be done. So eat vegan and thrive!