When considering going vegan you may wonder, “Where am I going to get my protein?” The simple answer: everywhere. Protein can be found in all plant foods. Whether you are a child, a pregnant mother, a high intensity athlete, or a hard working adult striving to maintain a healthy life, a whole foods plant based diet will cover all of your protein needs.
There are 20 amino acids necessary for humans to function and rebuild cells. Our bodies naturally regenerate over half of those, leaving only 9 as essential amino acids that we must consume from diet. Foods that contain all 9 are called complete proteins. Quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, spirulina, hemp seeds, chia seeds, soy, rice and beans or lentils, seitan, hummus and pita, or a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread are all examples of plant based complete proteins. What is important to note, however, is that it is not necessary for humans to consume all of their sources of protein as complete proteins; the body can absorb all essential amino acids from eating a variety of plant foods throughout the day.
The standard American is consuming 80% more protein than recommended by the FDA, and even those target levels are inflated due to the heavy hand of the meat and dairy industry in food policy. The World Health Organization—unbiased from American “Big Food”—recommends that protein make up only 5-10% of one’s daily intake of calories. That is not a lot of protein. Take fruit for instance: most fruits have a makeup of 6-8% protein. Even if you only ate watermelon and oranges for the day, if you consumed the proper amount of calories, you would still meet your protein requirements and almost all key vitamins and minerals. Vegetables have higher percentages, averaging around 15% protein, and the most protein dense foods like beans, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens contain an upwards of 20-30% protein. Sea plants like nori and spirulina are even 50% protein!
The plant kingdom contains all of the necessary nutrients for humans to live and thrive. In fact, plants are the original source! A diet based around plant based whole foods guarantees you will get as much protein as you need, regardless of your age, activity level, or health condition.
Plants surpass meat and other animal products in nutrition far beyond mere protein content, however. Plants are all encompassing for a healthy diet. They provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, water, phytochemicals, antioxidants, natural enzymes, and many other beneficial natural properties. What they do not contain is the bad stuff—artery-clogging cholesterol, trans-fat, cancer-promoting carcinogens, growth hormones, and a multitude of additional health hazards.
If you eat a diet of whole food plants you will receive everything you need and nothing you don’t. In addition to promoting your life, you will be promoting compassion, peace, and global responsibility as well. Eating plants is a win-win!
By Jacalyn Webster from naturallyjacalyn.com