How Do Vegans Get Enough Protein?
Tywana Ishman, MS, RD, LDAuthor
Dietian Tywana Ishman gives us a great summary of the benefits and any considerations need for vegan protein options
We’ve all been there. As soon as you mention to someone that you are vegan, they immediately become concerned that you are not getting enough protein.
How Much Protein Does A Vegan Need?
Here’s something to put in your back pocket. The amount of protein needed by someone who consumes a completely plant-based diet is pretty much the same as someone who eats animal-sourced proteins. It’s recommended that healthy adults consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This typically amounts to seven to 10 ounces of protein daily.
When and how you get your protein is your choice. Another concern is whether vegans are getting enough quality protein. Quality protein generally refers to protein sources that provide the nine essential amino acids that the body only acquires through food. Your body can make the remaining thirteen amino acids on its own. So, what’s better for your health? Let’s review a few pros and cons.
Pros of A Vegan Diet
It’s no secret that the benefits of a plant-based diet are numerous. One over-arching reason for improved health outcomes is that people typically consume more wholesome foods that are less processed. Plant-based eaters generally incorporate greater variety in their food choices of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and unsaturated fats.
This also reduces excess sodium, sugars, and stressors in your body that lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancers, gout, weight gain, sleep apnea, and a host of other cascading conditions. Plant-based diets offer more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, probiotics and prebiotics that contribute to GI health, brain function, and improved immune resistance. We could on and on.
Cons of A Vegan Diet
Depending on your routine and lifestyle, veganism/plant-based eating can require a little more preparation that your current eating pattern. For some, it may only mean making a few switches here and there. Vegan restaurants and meal options are gaining popularity, but they still aren’t widespread. It might be a good idea to slowly stock your kitchen with snacks and decide on a few go-to meals to get you started.
You may also need to adopt a sense of adventure. We’re not talking about eating grubs, but it helps to have an open mind about trying new foods that may differ in texture or flavor and require cooking styles that you haven’t tried. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ingredients.
Eating healthier does not have to cost you more but honestly, it can at sometimes. Buying organic can raise the price of some items. However, think about items like mayo or eggs. There are meatless substitutes for cooking ingredients that help bind foods or play other roles in meal preparation that cost more than their traditional counterparts. You will find creative ways around this, but sometimes we pay for convenience.
Okay, that’s cute. What do you eat for actual protein? For the most part, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and their derivatives (milks, butters, pastes, purees, etc..) provide the best sources.
Here’s a list of plant-based proteins to consider:
It doesn’t sound so bad, huh? What do you do now? Check out a few these recipes.
Live Love and Eat Good Food!
The Vgn Way