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Ask the Chef: Perplexed by Protein

Dear Chef Linda, I feel like I’m ready to start my vegan journey and I want to be prepared to answer the question “Where will you get your protein?”  Can you help?

Good question and one that vegans get all the time!
Let’s look at the biggest, strongest animals on the planet, like elephants, oxen, gorillas, and cows. They eat plants, not other animals. Protein is made from amino acids, and amino acids are found in most plant foods, not just animal foods. Our bodies make some of the amino acids that we need, and the rest, we need to get from a food source. These are called essential amino acids – they are essential to get from our food since we don’t produce them ourselves. Animals, and foods that come from them like eggs and dairy, contain all of the essential amino acids. That’s why people think you need to eat animals to get enough protein, but that’s just not true. Amino acids are found in plant foods, as well as animal foods, in varying amounts. You can eat a well-balanced, plant-based diet and get the amino acids to make all the protein you need.

How much do you really need?
The recommended daily allowance for women is 46 grams per day and for men, it’s about 56 grams. That equates to roughly 10-35% of your daily caloric intake, so you can see, protein is not supposed to make up the bulk of your calories.

When people ask you specifically, what you’ll be eating to ensure you get enough protein, you can tell them that you have endless possibilities, including meatless-meatloaf and mashed potatoes (have you ordered our cookbook yet?). Here are some of the protein powerhouses you can start to include in your meals; quinoa, healthy soy foods like tempeh, tofu, and edamame, lentils, beans, peas, seeds, nuts, seitan (wheat-meat), grains, and even sea vegetables. Most vegetables contain varying amounts of protein (and lots of other important nutrients), so be sure to eat a wide variety of whole foods. And there is no need to combine certain proteins at every meal so don’t buy into the argument that it’s complicated to plan your meals as a vegan.

Vegans do more than survive, we thrive by eating a plant-based diet! Congratulations to you for choosing to begin your journey. I’m confident that it will be a joyful and rewarding one!

Chef Linda



Add Love + Stir, Nutrition and Wellness, Vegan Lifestyle


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