When considering going vegan, my husband’s biggest fear (surprise, surprise) was, “How will I get enough protein?” I haven’t written a lot about protein and veganism, but it’s an important issue that came to my mind today when Uncle Guacamole, a new vegan, asked me this question:
Passover is coming up in about a month, a time when we traditionally eat a lot of meat and eggs, largely because all legumes, including soy, are prohibited for eight days. Can you recommend any plant-based sources of protein other than beans and peanuts, both of which are prohibited?
I’m posting my answer to him because it addresses the basic questions about protein that many people have when considering veganism.
Protein in a Nutshell
Even if you just ate fruits and veggies for the 8 days of Passover, you would likely get all the protein you need. Many people don’t realize that fruits and veggies have protein, but they do! Here are some examples:
Protein in veggies
• Spinach – 51 percent protein
• Mushrooms – 35 percent protein
• Corn – 12 percent protein
• Potatoes – 11 percent protein
Most people think they have to eat “protein rich” foods to get enough protein, but this is a fallacy. It’s one that most of us believe, however; due to the billions of dollars meat and dairy companies spend to make us believe that we need a lot of protein and that it should come mostly from animals. Balderdash! Check out the book, Meatonomics, to see exactly how the meat and dairy industries dupe us.
In reality, our bodies don’t require a lot of protein. Only 10% of our calories need to come from protein (and even this is likely more than we require). As you can see, just eating veggies would provide you with more than adequate protein.
If you’re consuming enough calories, then you’re getting enough protein. As Rip Esselstyn says, “look around you and tell me the last time you saw someone who was hospitalized for a protein deficiency.”
It’s actually more likely for people in modern society to become ill from eating too much protein. Consuming excessive protein is not good for you. Your liver and kidneys may become overburdened and you will start leaching calcium from your bones to get rid of the excess. This leads to health concerns. Most omnivores take in at least 20 percent protein, which is dangerously high.
Although most vegans consume many high protein foods like legumes, nuts and seeds, even without these protein powerhouses, a vegan diet provides adequate protein. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend abstaining from legumes for a long period of time because they provide fiber, lots of nutrients and are filling and delicious.
Disclaimer: I should note that I’m NOT a nutritionist. I’m only sharing info I’ve learned from personal research I’ve done.
For more info on protein, check out Can I get enough protein eating a plant-based diet?
The photo is of vegan bodybuilder, Joel Kirkilis, and is courtesy of Melbourne Vegan Strength.