One of the most tired and misinformed remarks that every vegan will at some point hear, is the age-old “you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet” diatribe. There doesn’t always seem to be a prerequisite that one has researched this subject before making these claims, and when asked, many will have trouble telling you the protein content of even a single food type. Variations of this argument can also include:
With all of the rampant misinformation out there, we thought we’d put together a helpful guide for our fellow plant-eaters, so that you can be well-informed and prepared for when these remarks inevitably come up, and perhaps put a few more people’s misconceptions to rest. Let’s break each one down:
"You can't get enough protein."
Considering the fact that the average person on a plant-based diet eats around twice the amount of protein they need on a daily basis, it’s a bit surprising that this excuse still seems to come up time and time again.
Throughout history, there has been a pattern of hysteria over protein. Around a century ago, protein recommendations were double what we know them to be today. Since that time, the recommended amount has been reduced a number of times due to a distinct lack of evidence of any dietary protein deficiencies in humans. Do you know what the current recommendation is for how much protein you should eat per day? To calculate it, you can simply follow the formula below:
Your healthy/ideal body weight in pounds Multiplied by 4, then divideD by 10 = your recommended daily protein intake
I am an average-height, late-twenties female and would consider my healthy/ideal body weight to be around the 60kg mark. So first, we must convert that to pounds for the above formula to work. 60kg is equal to approximately 132 pounds. We then multiply this by four and then divide it by 10 to get our final figure of 52.8.
So that’s 52.8 grams of protein that I should be consuming per day. It’s also important to note at this point that this formula over-compensates by roughly an extra 20%. That’s because everyone’s a little different, and they wanted to create a formula that would capture most people. In reality however, I would get by just fine on about 42.24 grams of protein per day.
So now that we know how much protein we must consume per day, let’s look at how easily this can be achieved with some everyday food examples. These examples are a mere drop in the ocean of all the options out there, and are just a few examples that I personally eat on a regular basis.
By looking at the food examples above, you can see how quickly you could add your meals up to 52.8g of protein over the course of a day. Perhaps you start with some toast for breakfast, a choc berry smoothie for lunch, a handful of peanuts for an afternoon snack and some pasta for dinner. That’s a whopping 61.3g of protein from just SOME of the ingredients you’d use, let alone the rest of the protein you’d get from all the other ingredients needed to make those meals. At this point, you’re already getting more protein than you need.
Myth busted. Next.
"To get enough protein, you'd have to eat (insert random, excessive number) bowls of salad/kale every day."
To me, this particular variation of the ill-fated argument shows that the person is particularly concerned that they would not be able to eat tasty food and get adequate protein on a plant-based diet. But of course, this is once again far from true. This argument is already dispelled by the evidence above, but just in case the previous food examples are considered “too healthy” by anyone, we’ve curated some examples of plant-based treats that’ll still get your daily protein requirements up.
As you can see once again, getting your protein does not require a miserable existence of force-feeding yourself a trough full of kale every day like some would prefer to believe. For instance, if I decide I’m having an emotional day (or whatever other excuse I come up with), I can treat myself to a burger and a chocolate bar and rake in a whopping 40g of protein for my trouble, or a pie and chips for 30g of protein.
Myth busted. Next.
"Meat protein is higher quality/better than plant protein."
Here we are at the final protein argument on the list. This one is particularly easy to dispel with 3 key facts.
Where does protein actually come from?
Quite simply, animals do not produce protein. The only organisms on earth capable of producing protein are plants. By eating a plant-based diet, you are simply getting the protein directly, rather than second-hand through a decomposing carcass.
What about Amino Acids?
So which form of protein is better?
Studies confirm that plant protein is superior in regards to its lack of nutritional “baggage”, such as the saturated fats and cholesterol that come packaged with animal protein which can greatly contribute to a wide range of human diseases.
And that’s it! All the most common protein myths completely busted. We hope you’ve picked up some useful facts in this guide that you can use in times of need.