Monday, April 7, 2014

How do Vegans get enough protein?

How do Vegans get enough protein?
Portabella mushrooms contain
2.5 grams of protein per serving
When people learn that we are vegan, their first question is, "How do you get enough protein"? In reality, it is one of the easiest nutritional requirements to fill. Almost all vegetables contain some protein.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies, the average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, for example, say a person weighs 150 lbs. (68 kg). That person would need approximately 54 grams of protein each day to maintain health. How hard is that to do?

Consider these vegan foods:

Dry Whole Oats 1/2 Cup 6.75g
Peaches 1 Small 0.7g
Blueberries 1 Cup 1.1g
Lentils 1 Cup 17.9g
Black Beans 1 Cup 15.1g
Quinoa 1 Cup 22.3g
Whole Wheat Spaghetti 1 Cup 7.5g
Asparagus 1 Cup 5.3g
Broccoli 1/2 Cup 1.9g
Dark Chocolate 1 Bar 0.9g

If I had a lunch of 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup lentils and a Romaine lettuce salad (0.1g of protein), I'd be getting over 20g of protein in that one meal. Add some veggies to the quinoa and the number increases. Include a nice desert of mixed fruit and, again, the number goes up. Getting enough protein is a breeze ... simply eat a good variety of foods.

But woman, vegan or otherwise, does not survive on protein alone!

Vegans get Vitamin B12 from Fortified Cereal.
Fortified cereals contain Vitamin B12
We also need Vitamin B12. It is vital!

The body needs B12 to make blood cells and to maintain a healthy nervous system. Unfortunately, there are not many plant-based sources of this vitamin because it is produced as a result of the bacteria which inhabit the "gut" of animals.

It is the only nutrient, to my knowledge, that can't be obtained from plants.

So what do vegans do?

Fortified cereals and nutritional yeast both contain B12. Some people have suggested that, due to the bacteria in soil, eating unwashed, organic vegetables will supply adequate amounts of this vitamin. Many vegans (myself included), take a supplement (produced commercially through bacterial fermentation-synthesis).

Iron, from raw spinach, is hard for the body to absorb.
Add lemon to raw spinach
I'll leave you with one last nutritional tidbit.

Iron, from raw vegetables (such as spinach), is difficult for the body to absorb. There are two ways to solve the problem: 1) cook the vegetable or
2) consume some citrus during the same meal as the raw vegetable (even a squeeze of lemon in your water will do the trick). This ensures that your body absorbs the iron efficiently.

Nutrition is important for everyone. Vegans, and non-vegans alike, will benefit from enjoying a variety of fresh, whole foods.

How do you maintain your nutrition?

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