By far, the most common question a plant-based eater hears is, “Where do you get your protein?”
Over and over again, people seem very concerned about being able to get enough protein from plant-based meals.
Yet, it’s understandable that people are skeptical. With all the advertising and media touting protein’s importance, combined with Big Agriculture’s promotion of animal-based foods as the centerpiece of all meals, it’s easy to see why people are focused on this one nutrient.
Judging by food marketing trends in recent years, suddenly everyone needed more protein. If some protein was good, more must be better, or so the logic seems to go. But it’s not that simple.
An excessive focus on protein consumption means you will likely lower other important nutrition from your daily intake. Additionally, if you’re eating animal-based protein, you are consuming saturated fat and cholesterol that contribute to heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Many expert sources suggest that adult women need roughly 46 grams and adult men 56 grams of protein daily. More accurate calculations can be made using one’s weight and adjusting for activity levels and fitness goals.
The average American eats much more protein every day than is needed, mostly from eggs, meat, poultry, fish/seafood, and dairy. However, for those seeking alternatives, there is plenty of protein in a well-rounded, plant-based diet, which will also add increased fiber and valuable vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Enjoying protein-packed plant dishes can be easy and inexpensive without buying highly processed vegan “meat” or “cheese” substitutes. Plant sources of protein include legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts), nuts, and grains. Soy products, including edamame, soy milk, tofu, and tempeh, are especially rich in protein.
In addition to the plant-protein All-Stars above, many vegetables have small amounts of protein, which when combined over the course of a day will meet one’s requirements.
As noted in the recent film The Game Changers, which profiled a variety of high-performance athletes who eat a plant-based diet, some of the largest and strongest mammals, such as elephants and gorillas, thrive by eating only plants. That’s food for thought!
To learn more about plant-based meals with plenty of protein, join Deb Czech for a free Zoom class, “Delicious Plant-Based Bowls,” hosted by Saratoga Springs Public Library on Thursday, June 17, from 12–1 p.m. Register in advance at sspl.org.