Anyone who‚Äôs ever taken a vegan diet¬†for a test drive knows there‚Äôs no shortage of invasive speculation that comes with the all-veg lifestyle. But one FAQ tends to get tossed out way more than salad during dinner conversation: How do you get enough protein from vegan sources?
When I ask Rachel Brathen, the herbivorous yogi¬†known as Yoga Girl, about her experience with what I feel to be the seriously overplayed query, she immediately backs me up: It is a thing. ‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs so funny. It‚Äôs like the number-one question that I‚Äôm asked by non-vegans and non-vegetarians, but I think it‚Äôs a little bit outdated,‚ÄĚ she says with a laugh. ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt need to eat beef, eggs, and all these other animal products to get your protein.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI get most of my protein from what you would assume are the basic non-animal forces, so we eat a lot of tofu, beans, and lentils, and quinoa, things like that. And of course a lot of nuts.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒRachel Brathen, Yoga Girl
According to the Dietary Reference Intakes set out by the US Department of Health and Human Services, she‚Äôs totally right. Those guidelines spell out that individuals need to eat about¬†0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Meaning, for every 25 pounds you weigh, you should be eating about 9 grams of protein, unless you‚Äôre an endurance athletes, meaning you¬†may require between 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kg, or about 14 grams per 25 pounds.¬†So while yes, eating a small chicken breast (31 grams per 100-gram serving) or another animal product may help you reach your quota faster, plant-based options of the macronutrient, like hemp seeds (10 grams in 3 Tbsp), oatmeal (6 grams per one cup), and peas (4.5 grams per 1/2 cup) will push you toward to the protein finish line, too.
Brathen prefers to pack in the essential nutrient as deliciously as possible: ‚ÄúI eat a lot of tofu, beans, and lentils, and quinoa, things like that. And of course a lot of nuts,‚ÄĚ she says. When the asana lover isn‚Äôt shelling pistachios as part of her partnership with Wonderful, she tells me she‚Äôs a huge proponent of quick curries and lasagnas stuffed with faux-ricotta. And as a rule, she always tries to supercharge pasta dishes with lentils, legumes that boast about 9 grams of protein per serving (a combo that, BTW, Lea Luna‚ÄĒher one-and-a-half-year-old totally ships too).¬†
The takeaway? Next time someone insinuates you‚Äôre deficient in this macronutrient, politely place your¬†delish¬†veggie burger back onto your plate, and patiently explain why vegetables, too, are perfectly capable of fueling your workouts, fulfilling your amino-acid needs, and repairing your muscles. Then kindly ask them to pass the beet ketchup, please.