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How do vegans get enough protein?
Where do vegans get their protein from?
Possibly the most controversial nutrient in vegan diets is protein. All plants contain some form of protein and it’s a misconception that it is lacking in plant-based diets.
It’s also a fallacy that we need to eat ‘complete proteins’, or that animal protein is somehow superior.
Plant proteins contain various beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and the all-important fibre, without any of the saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol that animal proteins come packaged with.
Sounds like plant proteins might in fact be superior then.. SCORE 🙌
How much protein do I need?
We have a societal obsession with protein, but many of us consume far more than we really need. Healthy people aged 18-64 should be aiming for protein to make up 10-15% of our daily calorie intake, which is around 0.9g per kg of body weight per day.
For a 60kg woman, this would be 54g of protein and for an 80kg man, this is 72g. This takes into account the fact that some plant proteins are a little less digestible than animal proteins, (the recommended protein intake is 0.8g/kg for meat-eaters).
If you exercise more than eight hours a week or are trying to sculpt bodybuilder-style guns, you might want to up this to 1.2g/kg+, but really and truly, unless you are a professional athlete, then just upping your calories in line with your expenditure will naturally take care of this.
When eating a plant-based diet, the key is getting enough variety.
Rather than worrying about counting calories or macros, just aim to include both a source of primary and secondary protein in each of your meals.
Primary sources of plant-based protein:
- Soya products (tofu, tempeh, edamame etc.)
- Processed meat alternatives like quorn and seitan
Secondary sources of plant-based protein:
- Other grains
- Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts
As mentioned above, it was once thought that plant proteins needed to be combined in order to get sufficient ‘complete’ protein, but we now know this isn’t true.
Your body is smart enough to store amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and will use what it needs, when it needs it. Plant-based eaters can get all essential amino acids by simply including a diverse range of protein sources in their diet.