By analyzing the ingredients of vegan food, I can determine how vegans get protein.
I put my vegan meals to the test to calculate my daily protein intake.
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential for maintaining muscle and bone mass, enzymatic activity, an optimal immune system, cell signaling and preventing fatigue. I would say that makes it quite important.
Recommended protein intake per day
My research revealed that there is no consensus on the amount of protein required per day.
Keep in mind also that the required protein intake for the day depends on;
- your sex
- your weight
- your age
- your body goals
- the condition of your liver where the protein is broken down
- whether a woman is pregnant and lactating.
The USA’s Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends adults consume 50 grams of protein per day based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The lowest amount of protein one needs before being considered deficient. A more accurate recommended protein intake per day required for optimal health is based on your weight.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends:
0.36 grams of protein per pound, or 0.8 grams per kilogram, of body weight.
I weigh 140 pounds which is 63kg. Therefore, I need 0.8 x 63kg = 50 grams of protein per day (which matches the FDA recommendation).
I do high intensity workouts for about 45 minutes every morning. Therefore, I will need more than 50g of protein in order to just maintain my body weight. I also have a goal to put on weight but at a slow unnoticeable pace.
Taking this into account – I will arbitrarily increase my protein intake by 30%, which is 15 additional grams.
My Final Goal: 50 + 15 = 65 grams of protein per day.
I used an app to calculate the amount of protein in each ingredient. Below I have highlighted (in red) how many grams of protein are contained in each ingredient. The app has a foods’ database and can scan the bar code label on the food packaging to automatically generate the protein content in grams.
Let’s break it down…
- Bran Flakes, 2 1/2 cups (7g)
- Unsweetened Almond Milk, 1 1/2 cups (1.3g)
- Seed Mix (Linseed, Sunflower, Pumpkin & Flax) 1/4 cup (5.9g)
- 1 Banana (1.3g)
- 1 Tangerine (0.6g)
- PawPaw fruit, medium (0.5g)
- Toasted Brown Seeded Bread, 4 slices (15g)
- Peanut Butter, No-added salt & sugar (0.6g)
- Jam (0.1g)
- Yam (0.3g)
- Sweet Potato, 0.2 cup (0.5g)
- Cashew Nuts, Roasted & Unsalted (5g)
- Fry’s Braai Style Meat-free Sausages (15g)
- Sauteed Spinach (2g)
- Black beans, 3cups, cooked (5g)
- Avocado, 1/8 slice (0.4g)
- Sweet Red Pepper, 1/8 cup chopped (0.2g)
- String Beans (1g)
- Bulgar Wheat & Chickpea Pilaf (11.5g)
- Sweet Potato, 0.2 cup (0.5g)
Total Calories: 2,000
My Protein Results
Adding up all the protein amounts:
Breakfast 16 grams + Snack 38.5 grams + Lunch/Dinner 18.5 grams = 73 grams of protein for the day.
- Protein is contained in every single ingredient on my menu except the tomato I added to my beans.
- Vegans can get protein from almost every single type of food they eat.
- The Creator was smart enough to put protein in most plant foods in the amount that was required to survive.
- I did not have to take a protein shake or supplement in order to achieve my daily required amount of protein.
Utilizing an app can help beginner vegans in doing this kind of “scientific analysis” to make sure they are indeed getting enough protein from their diet. There are numerous apps on the market as you can imagine.
I am working with one right now through the vegan.io project. They send you automatic 7-day meal plans every week and even send you a shopping list segmented by ingredient types. Vegan.io automatically calculates the nutritional information for each and every meal. Not only protein, carbs and fat, but also vitamins and minerals! Yeah.
This is useful also for your own piece of mind as well as preparing you for the inevitable question that will come your way soon: Where do you get your protein?
Once you have a meal plan going and you get a feel for the nutritional content of the foods you eat, then you can do away with the app – it will become instinctive or intuitive what you need to eat on a daily basis to not only get your required protein but any goal you have set for your protein intake.
Let’s not just get stuck talking about protein, protein, protein. The human body requires more than just protein. What about the essential carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, fat, vitamins and minerals that the human body needs to function optimally?
But wouldn’t it be great for vegans to never worry about vegan meal planning ever again?
It’s important to note that the sources of protein on my vegan plate are from plants and not animals. Herbivore animals get their protein from its source: the plants. Human animal eaters then eat the herbivore animals and derive their protein from a secondary source.
If the animal we eat can get all the protein it needs to grow and survive from plant sources then humans should be able to go directly to the source as well.
Hopefully this post can put to rest the concern many have that a vegan diet is lacking in protein or protein-deficient. Not only is protein plentiful in plant sources, it might just be the best source of protein on the planet.