Where do I get my protein?!

I was at a party Friday night and it happened again. Somehow when i talk about something enough I think everyone in the world has heard it and doesn’t need to ask it again, but truth is it’s probably the number one question we veg-heads get.

“So, where do you get your protein?”

I have several options here.

Education on what  the f’d up dairy, beef and poultry industry has convinced them of.

Simple, expected answer.  Beans.

Truthful answer.  Just about every whole food I eat.


I always try the education route, guess it’s the teacher in me, but I find a lot of people don’t want to be educated. 

Here is the deal anyway.

The World Health Organization has a very general recommendation of .66g protein/kg body weight for an average adult.  However if you look at the specific charts (in the 284 page report Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition) you’ll find many of the requirements are much lower than that, and I would probably fall in the .46g/kg range.  To do all the math for you – that’s between 5-10 percent of your total daily calories from protein.

The US RDA protein is much higher, about .8g/kg.  And do I trust the US RDA?  No.  I know that animal agriculture has big business with the US government and dictates much of “my plate” (the old food pyramid) and has on obvious interest in everyone consuming animal protein.  Still, it’s only about 10-15% daily calories from protein.


So back to WHO’s recommendation, whom I trust a bit more.

It’s super easy to get 10% protein if you’re eating whole foods and protein, super duper easy to eat 5%.

A look at common produce and foods:

Banana – 4.9 %

Peach – 6.6 %

Brown rice – 7.3 %

Potato – 8.5 %

Orange – 9 %

Whole wheat pasta – 14 %

Mixed nuts – 19 %

Green peas – 26 %

Broccoli – 43 %

Spinach – 50 %

Beans – 58 %

So you can see, general protein for a vegan is not an issue. What we might want to look at is amino acids, but even that tends to be over-dramatized. There are 20 essential amino acids and only 9 that our bodies do not manufacture. While some non-animal protein source contains higher amounts of different amino acids than others, almost all vegan protein sources contain all of the amino acids.

For example, potatoes are higher in tryptophan than corn, but if you eat enough corn you’d eventually get enough.  Make sense?
However, in no way do I advocate eating only one source of protein, not for the protein itself but for all the other vitamins and minerals.

Thus – it all comes back around to – eat a varied diet of whole foods and you’ll get most all nutrients you need.  Exceptions? Yes, but b12, D, fatty acids are another discussion 🙂

So – “Where do you get your protein?”
“In  almost everything I eat “  (well….sugar and oil excepted!).