I'm A Vegetarian - Am I Getting Enough Protein?

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • For vegetarians and vegans, one of the primary questions they are often asked relates to protein. “If you don’t eat meat or dairy products, where do you get your protein?” What many don’t realize is that it’s actually quite difficult not to get enough protein and in truth, most get too much.

    The conventional daily protein recommendation is 60-90 grams per day. However, many research studies conclude that the real protein need is closer to 25-35 grams per day. What’s particularly interesting is that the concentration of protein found in mother’s milk is just 1.4 percent, a great point to consider given it’s being consumed during a human being’s most critical brain development period.

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    The key nutrients found in protein are amino acids. There are over 20 amino acids, however human beings are unable to naturally produce 9 of them, which makes them essential and obtainable only through food sources.  These amino acids are necessary for proper cell function, healthy body tissue, oxygen transfer throughout the body, enzyme production, energy needs and much more.

    However, it is important to understand that consuming meat and dairy products is not the only way to insure protein needs are met.

    Vegetarian sources of protein include grains (quinoa is a complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids), beans, nuts, seeds, soybeans and seitan (made from gluten which is the protein portion of wheat). However, almost all vegetables and fruits also contain amino acids which makes it virtually impossible not to meet daily protein needs if one consumes a well balanced diet. Although many vegetarian sources are not “complete”, making variety important, there are some that are. Some examples include flax seed, quinoa (as mentioned above), spirulina and chlorella. Other high protein vegetables include celery, spinach, asparagus, sting beans and cauliflower.  As the raw food diet is highly absorbable, obtaining the necessary essential amino acids can be achieved with less protein then for those that consume mostly cooked foods.

    Although individuals vary in their protein needs, the important thing to understand is that a vegetarian or vegan diet does supply the necessary amino acids for good health without the risks associated with a heavy animal based diet. Eating a diet high in natural, unrefined foods is your best bet for optimal body function and disease prevention.

    -The Vegetarian Society, vegsoc.org
    -Dr. Gabriel Cousens, treeoflife.nu
    -David Wolfe, sunfood.com

Published On: August 18, 2010