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Are You Pro Protein?

One of the hardest things about life is finding balance. We often have to balance work with pleasure, sacrifice with rewards, and if you are raising children, discipline with love. If left unchecked, the things that we are maintaining can become unbalanced, including our diets. At a quick glance, the basic overview of a vegetarian diet is “anything with no meat”. It is very easy to misinterpret what that means. Many people know that meat is a good source of protein. So the question that immediately comes to mind is; are vegetarians getting enough protein in their diets? Does removing meat from my diet compromise a fully balanced meal? To answer these questions, we must dig a little deeper. The reason why proteins are important to our bodies is because they help make up all cells in the human body. If you’re not getting enough protein then this can lead to losing muscle mass, a weaker immune system, and the ability to grow. Now, the body isn’t totally without protein if you don’t eat any because it makes its own. These are called nonessential amino acids. The amino acids (protein) that the body can’t make on its own are called essential amino acids. We get the essential amino acids from the food we eat. If you abstain from meat, the best sources of protein are nuts and legumes. Since the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) suggests that we only need 56 grams of protein per day, you can find a variety of foods to complete the recommended amount. Below are some charts that can help you plan out vegetarians or vegan meals.    

Table 1: Sample Menus Showing How Easy It Is To Meet Protein Needs
Protein (grams)
Breakfast: 1 cup Oatmeal

6

1 cup Soymilk

7

1 Bagel

9


Lunch: 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread

5

1 cup Vegetarian Baked Beans

12


Dinner: 5 oz firm Tofu

11

1 cup cooked Broccoli

4

1 cup cooked Brown Rice

5

2 Tbsp Almonds

4


Snack: 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter

8

6 Crackers

2

TOTAL 73 grams
Protein Recommendation for Male Vegan [based on 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight for 70 kilogram (154 pound) male] 56-70 grams
Breakfast: 2 slices Whole Wheat Toast

5

2 Tbsp Peanut Butter

8


Lunch: 6 oz. Soy Yogurt

6

2 Tbsp Almonds

4

1 Baked Potato

4


Dinner: 1 cup cooked Lentils

18

1 cup cooked Bulgur

6


Snack: 1 cup Soymilk

7

TOTAL 58 grams
Protein Recommendation for Female Vegan [based on 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight for 57.5 kilogram (126 pound) female] 46-58 grams
Additional food should be added to these menus to provide adequate calories and to meet requirements for nutrients besides protein.

   

Table 2: Protein Content of Selected Vegan Foods

FOOD

AMOUNT

PROTEIN(gm)

PROTEIN(gm/100 cal)

Tempeh 1 cup

41

9.3

Seitan 3 ounces

31

22.1

Soybeans, cooked 1 cup

29

9.6

Lentils, cooked 1 cup

18

7.8

Black beans, cooked 1 cup

15

6.7

Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup

13

6.4

Veggie burger 1 patty

13

13.0

Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup

12

4.2

Veggie baked beans 1 cup

12

5.0

Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup

12

5.7

Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup

11

6.2

Tofu, firm 4 ounces

11

11.7

Lima beans, cooked 1 cup

10

5.7

Quinoa, cooked 1 cup

9

3.5

Tofu, regular 4 ounces

9

10.6

Bagel 1 med. (3 oz)

9

3.9

Peas, cooked 1 cup

9

6.4

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup

8

8.4

Peanut butter 2 Tbsp

8

4.3

Veggie dog 1 link

8

13.3

Spaghetti, cooked 1 cup

8

3.7

Almonds 1/4 cup

8

3.7

Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup

7

7.0

Soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces

6

4.0

Bulgur, cooked 1 cup

6

3.7

Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup

6

3.3

Whole wheat bread 2 slices

5

3.9

Cashews 1/4 cup

5

2.7

Almond butter 2 Tbsp

5

2.4

Brown rice, cooked 1 cup

5

2.1

Spinach, cooked 1 cup

5

13.0

Broccoli, cooked 1 cup

4

6.8

Potato 1 med. (6 oz)

4

2.7

Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and manufacturers’ information.The recommendation for protein for adult males vegans is around 56-70 grams per day; for adult female vegans it is around 46-58 grams per day (see text).

If you look at your diet and you see that you’re not getting enough protein, then obviously the scale has been tipped to one side. Again, the key to doing anything is balance. The charts provided here are meant to be a starting point and guide to help you on your journey to balanced eating. I encourage you to to research the topic further as you create your own balanced menus. As always, God bless and cheers to healthy living.

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1 Comment on "Are You Pro Protein?"

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  1. Jacqui Dee says:

    loved it, the layout is excellent when staring out a vegetarian lifestyle.

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