How much protein do you need?
Let’s start with we don’t need as much protein as the meat and dairy industry would have you believe. An individuals protein needs depends on their age, weight and the amount of exercise they get. According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, you need 0.36 grams of protein per pound of your weight. So, if you weigh 150 lbs., you need 54 grams of protein a day.
The FDA recommends a daily protein intake of 50 grams for adults, with varying values depending on the age of a person. For example, 14 grams for infants, 16 grams for children under 4 years of age, 60 grams for pregnant women, and 65 grams for lactating women.
Good vegan sources of protein include whole grains such as quinoa, barley, wheat germ, brown rice, whole wheat, corn, and oatmeal; vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, celery, eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, bok choy; algae such as spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae; sea vegetables such as nori, kelp, and wakame; fruits such as honeydew melon, lemon, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, bananas, apples, oranges, and papaya; legumes such as soy (tofu, soy milk, tempeh, miso), peanuts, peas, lentils, mung sprouts, and beans; seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds; and nuts such as almonds, cashew, walnuts, pecan, pine nuts, and pistachio. Some of these foods also contain a significant amount of calcium and iron thought to be lacking in vegan diets. A lot of vegetarians and vegans also eat mock meat that is packed with protein and made from soy and wheat gluten. Some varieties of analog meat taste so good that true-blue omnivores admit they taste better than the real thing.
Nutritional Benefits of Plant-based Protein
Plant amino acids come with a host of other important nutrients necessary to maintain health and reverse life-threatening diseases that animal flesh doesn’t have in high amounts or doesn’t have at all, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, water, fiber, essential fatty acids, and the all-important enzymes if you eat them raw. Eating your plant protein cooked will be much less of a strain to the body than eating cooked animal protein, but ingesting your plant protein raw is by a wide margin less stressful to the digestive system than eating it cooked.
Amino acids in fruits and vegetables are very easy to assimilate and are utilized by the body better than animal protein, which usually ends up undigested, causing problems not just to the digestive system but to the immune system as well when they end up floating unmetabolized in the bloodstream, causing autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.
Animal products are not the panacea for your protein needs. Going vegan or even vegetarian is obviously the healthier choice. Go vegan for at least a month to see and feel the difference!
(source: One Green Planet - How Do Vegans Get Their Protein 1 & 2 )
Aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day—the recommended calcium intake for adults—from foods with well-absorbed calcium. Foods like legumes and whole sesame seeds contain calcium, but it’s attached to other compounds in the food and isn’t absorbed well into the blood. The same is true for a few vegetables like spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard. However, calcium is very well absorbed from kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, broccoli, fortified plant milks, fortified juices and firm tofu made with calcium-sulfate—all good sources of this mineral.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods help keep blood more alkaline which protects bone health. They also contain nutrients—vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and boron—that are important for healthy bones. Diets that are packed with fruits and veggies are associated with stronger bones.
Get adequate vitamin D. Whether they are vegan, vegetarian or a meat-eater—most people depend on sunshine or fortified foods or supplements to meet vitamin D needs. Very few foods are natural sources of this nutrient. Even cow’s milk is a poor source of vitamin D unless it’s fortified. If you live in a sunny area and spend 10 to 20 minutes (the darker your skin, the more exposure you need) during midday on a day when sunburn is possible, you should be set. If not, consider adding a supplement of at least 600 IUs to your daily intake.
|Milligrams of Calcium||Other Bone Benefits|
|Calcium-set firm tofu (made with calcium-sulfate), 1 cup||200-300||Provides protein|
|Leafy greens (bok choy, kale, collards, mustard or turnip greens) 1 cup cooked||100 to 260||Provides vitamin K and potassium|
|Broccoli, 1 cup cooked||60 to 85||Provides vitamin C|
|Fortified orange or tomato juice, 1 cup||300||Provides vitamin C and potassium (choose reduced sodium tomato juice)|
|Fortified soymilk, 1 cup||300||Provides protein|
|Fortified almond, hempseed, rice, oat and coconut milks, 1 cup||300||These milks tend to be low in nutrients, but they are a good source of calcium and vitamin D, and a great alternative to soymilk.|