Categories Vegetarianism

Real Talk On Vegan Protein

Many vegans don’t have a healthy view on protein. Protein, regardless if it is plant-based or from an animal, is great for satiation and where vegans are involved, is a great source of other vitamins and minerals that you may not get much of. Vegan sources of protein, like beans, legumes, and seeds often are high in Zinc and Iron as well, which is important for the plant-based practitioner.

Many vegans get into a hissy when even vegan RD’s request higher protein amounts for vegans. Since vegan protein often contains higher amounts of fiber, it is best to eat more to compensate for it. Not taking this into consideration can be the reason many vegans quit veganism, and point to health issues and cravings.

However, not only do many vegans think this nutrient is pretty much useless, but also many of the posts about vegan protein sources are inaccurate or misleading when it comes to protein, as I have talked briefly about in a previous post. However, we are going to talk about some of these misleading infographics about vegan protein sources.

While this infographic is not necessarily wrong, it is highly misleading, and definitely had me do a double take when I first saw it. Judging on this infographic, you can get all your protein needs from a diet of broccoli, cabbage, and bell peppers. No, you need about 60 grams of protein or more a day, you can’t get that with only eating these foods.

For instance, a green bell pepper IS about 22% protein… but it only has about 23 calories, and just 1 gram of protein for the whole bell pepper. So definitely NOT an adequate source of vegan protein. It is also VERY wrong about protein in their animal product options as well, as skinless boneless chicken breast is well over 80% protein.

A better infographic would simply show vegan protein options and ignore trying to compare them to meat.

vegan protein

This one is also misleading, as it is based on 100 gram portions, and not actual serving sizes. For instance, 100 grams of peanut butter is about 600 calories or almost half a cup. In order to get 32 grams of protein from pumpkin seeds, you have to eat almost a full cup of seeds, which is nearly 600 calories.

It’s best to stick with servings that the average person would consume.

Avocado? Figs? Kale? Spinach? These are not high in protein at all. A full avocado only has 4 grams of protein for almost 400 calories. A large fig only has half a gram of protein per fig. How about those leafy greens? a cup of cooked kale only has 4 grams of protein, while a cup of cooked spinach only has 7. These are not high protein foods.

Telling people that these foods are high in protein is not only misleading, but can ultimately make ex-vegans. Many people quit veganism due to cravings and health issues, and one of them may be due to the false idea that otherwise filling foods, like lentils and beans, are almost overshadowed by foods like figs, kale, avocado, mushrooms, and bell peppers. No wonder people get sick.

Is there an infographic that you personally promote?

Well, is there an infographic that I like because it is generally honest. Here it is:

I like this one because it is honest, it shows decent serving sizes, and posts the grams of protein as well. The focus is more on beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains while also mentioning other lower protein foods like artichoke. They also don’t pretend that Brussel sprouts are a “good source” of protein, but simply that they have it.

More focus on beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds need to be put forth, and consuming extra protein from plant-based sources will do nothing but benefit you. I really don’t see how this is controversial. Eat more protein and lysine rich foods, feel fuller for longer, and be healthy long term.

And stop with the “it’s impossible to be protein deficient on a vegan diet!” schitck, whether or not you’re “deficient” you can still get more energy and more nutrition simply by eating a few more beans, legumes, or grams of tofu a day. So bon appitite