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You're Vegan? Where Do You Get Your Protein From?

Updated: Mar 23

I'm writing this for all you vegans out there. There seems to be a myth about protein! This could be a one word blog. The answer is FOOD!! But lets elaborate just a little.

The sign of not getting enough protein is not that someone doesn't eat meat. A sure way to tell is if they are lying on the ground, have a vacant stare, partially conscious, confused and possibly dying. What is protein needed for? Protein plays an important role in the body, forming the basis of muscle, hair, nails and collagen, the connective tissue that holds the body together. It also makes vital metabolic products and DNA. When you eat protein, it is broken down into amino acids from which new proteins are built to perform each of these functions. Plants have protein! Simple as that. If you are getting a varied vegan diet of fruit, veg, grains, beans, seeds and nuts you are getting PLENTY of protein. Google 'plant based protein sources' you will find endless reading. Just mix them up a bit and you have complete protein intake. For example, grains like rice are too low in lysine to be considered a complete source of protein. Yet, by also eating lentils or beans, which are higher in lysine, you can be sure to obtain all nine essential amino acids. Here are a list of nearly complete protein sources for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Quinoa

  • Tofu, tempeh, and edamame

  • Amaranth

  • Buckwheat

  • Spirulina

  • Hemp seeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Nutritional yeast

  • Rice and Beans

  • Pita and hummus

  • Peanut butter sandwich

  • Quorn

People can typically consume 2 g of protein per kg of their body weight daily, long-term, without any significant side effects.

Some people, such as elite athletes, may be able to eat as much as 3.5 g per kg of body weight daily without any side effects

Most research indicates that eating more than 2 g per kg of body weight daily of protein for a long time can cause health problems.

Symptoms associated with too much protein include:

  • intestinal discomfort and indigestion

  • dehydration

  • unexplained exhaustion

  • nausea

  • irritability

  • headache

  • diarrhea

There are serious risks associated with chronic protein overconsumption, including:

  • cardiovascular disease

  • blood vessel disorders

  • liver and kidney injuries

  • seizures

  • death

Doctors have also linked certain conditions to chronic protein overconsumption:

  • type 2 diabetes

  • cancer

  • osteoporosis and osteopenia

Did you know that there are many great vegan athletes and body builders out there? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t build your muscles by eating an animal’s muscles (meat), they develop by being used – and the best diet to fuel this use is a varied, wholegrain vegan one. The advantage of a vegan diet is that it provides all the good stuff (plant protein, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants and fibre) while avoiding the baddies (animal protein, saturated animal fats and cholesterol) which are linked to a heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers.

There is also a huge misconception about animal protein being a "high-quality" protein. The proteins of other animals are very similar to our proteins because they mostly have the right amounts of each of the amino acids, making them "efficient". Plant proteins have been labelled as lower quality as most plants eaten on their own do not contain all of the amino acids. This would be all well and good if the greatest efficiency meant greater health but it doesn't and that is where "efficiency" and "quality" have become mixed and misleading. Plant protein allows for the slow and steady synthesis of new proteins and is in fact the healthiest type of protein. In the industry, the focus of quality protein is on body growth, i.e. seeing how fast animals grow from a source of protein and so we have been misled about "quality" protein. Meat protein does not lead to better health, in fact, it is by far inferior to plant protein when it comes to health. It is easy to get the right amount of amino acids from plant protein, just eat a varied diet which is pretty easy and totally delicious. Q - You're a VEGAN??? Where do get your protein from? A - Veg, beans, nuts, seeds, grains and anything not meat. Now can I ask ... You're a CARNIVORE?? Where do you get your health from? And your compassion?

SOURCES The China Study - T. Campbell Proteins In Human Nutrition - BR Siblings World Protein Supplies and Needs - M Autret Evaluation of Proteins For Humans - Westport

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