I never knew how much people cared about my protein intake until I became vegetarian. I have had people ask me if I am getting enough protein, and had people blame my hunger due to lack of grains on lack of protein, despite my massive intake of protein.
But this is one thing that people don’t seem to understand; plants DO have enough protein to sustain you. Granted, I am a lacto-vegetarian, so a significant amount of my protein comes from milk and cheese (mostly cheese, saying that I switched to soymilk), but most of my protein comes from plant-based sources. For instance, protein per serving of foods that I eat:
- Split peas – 10 grams
- Sweet peas – 3 grams
- Lentils – 8 grams
- Soymilk – 7 grams
- Kale – 3 grams
- Spinach – 1 gram
- Broccoli – 3 grams
- Whole Wheat Bread – 4 grams
- Tofu – 10 grams
This and much, much more. I eat a lot of black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and the like. I don’t think I even sacrifice taste either, in fact, since I no longer drizzle my foods in sauces and spices, I am more able to appreciate my foods as they naturally come. The main issue does seem to be that of protein though.
Protein requirements are calculated by 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound, so the smaller you are, the less you have to worry about protein intake. I am 205 pounds, so my recommended protein intake is 74 grams of protein a day. Eating foods like Bean Burritos from Taco Bell (14 grams of protein) or Veggie Burgers from Burger King (21 grams of protein) can keep me within that protein range even if I am eating out.
Now if a vegetarian were to eat foods like modern Americans do, and eat white breads, and potato chips, and the like all the time, you can make the conclusion that a vegetarian might not be getting the right amount of protein. But most vegetarians replace typical foods with higher protein and fiber foods, which is good.
Remember, there are plants out there that contain more protein than a Hot Dog (5 grams) an egg (6 grams) or a serving of Beef Jerky (7 grams), such as kidney beans, black beans, and Soy Milk which all have at least 7 grams per serving. A store-bought veggie burger can have almost as much protein as a typical beef patty.(10 grams vs 16 grams), so nobody should be too worried about protein content in a vegetarian diet.