Monday, October 24, 2011

What Going Vegan Has Taught Me.... People are obsessed with protein.

The number one question I get when people find out I'm vegan is 'what do you do for protein?'. This question makes me laugh because protein is in almost every food, not just animal foods. You will even find protein in fruit!

I won't get into the nitty gritty about protein because you can go and read books or surf the net if you really want to know the details on why animal protein is bad for you. This blog entry is just meant to alert you to the fact that you do not need to eat animal protein for any health reason.

The average American eats three times the amount of protein that is recommended in a given day. Excess protein can't be stored; it's either broken down and burned for energy, or stored as fat (FYI - extra calories from any source are stored as fat). Animal protein also contains saturated fat, hormones, and cholesterol. Animal protein contains zero fiber. Honestly, it's doing nothing but bad things for you.

The RDA recommends that we eat 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh. If you weigh 150 pounds you should eat 54 grams of protein a day. The numbers change slightly if you are a nursing mother or an active athlete. (fun fact - did you know many famous athletes are vegan?)

Let's look at some protein numbers from animal protein:

3 oz chicken - 29 grams protein
1 egg - 6 grams protein
4 oz of steak  - 24 grams protein
1 cup milk - 8 grams protein
6 oz Porterhouse - 38 grams protein
1 ounce cheese  - 25 grams protein
3 ounces baked cod - 21 grams protein

When was the last time you sat down and only had 1 oz of cheese or 3 ounces of meat? Probably never. If you walk into a restaurant the smallest serving of meat you'll see is probably 8 ounces.
You'll sometimes see a 6 oz filet.

Restaurants serve 2 to 3 times an actual serving on average... but what about those 16 oz t-bones? I've even seen 3 and 4 POUND steaks on the menu.  You can see that getting three times the protein you need is really easy if you eat animals. You are overdosing on protein! Just imagine what that is doing to your body and your arteries. Yuck.

Too much protein is very bad for your body. Eating excess protein has been linked with a shorter life expectancy, increased cancer and heart disease risks, obesity and diabetes, osteoporosis (yes, dairy can cause osteoporosis!), stress on the kidneys and bad digestion. It also makes you feel sluggish, tired and heavy.

Plant protein is full of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, healthy fats and fiber! You can get all the protein you need easily in a balanced, plant based diet. All veggies, fruit, nuts, legumes (beans) and grains have protein!


Another fun fact... plant foods are full of calcium too! I'll cover that another day!

It's nearly impossible to be protein deficient on a vegan diet. The only way it could happen is if you were eating only highly processed foods that were so devoid of nutrition that you were basically living on high fructose corn syrup and simple sugars contained in things like white bread!

Here are the protein grams in various plant foods, legumes, nuts and grains:

3 oz walnuts  - 11 grams
3 oz peanuts - 24 grams
3 oz almonds  - 17 grams
3 oz cashews  - 18 grams
1 cup chickpeas - 8 grams
3 oz Soybeans (tofu and tempeh) - 11 grams
1 cup baked beans - 12 grams
2 slices of whole wheat bread - 5 grams
1 cup soymilk - 7 grams
1 cup oatmeal - 6 grams
1 cup broccoli - 4 grams
1 cup brown rice - 5 grams
2 tbsp peanut butter - 8 grams
1 cup lentils - 18 grams
1 baked potato - 4 grams
1 cup black beans - 15 grams
1 veggie burgers  - 10 to 15 grams
1 cup spinach - 5 grams
3 oz seitan - 31 grams
1 cup tempeh - 41 grams
1 cup whole grain spaghetti - 8 grams
1 scoop soy protein powder - 25 grams (not all are the same)

So, the next time you hear about someone being vegan.. you can skip the protein question because now you know the real story!

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