Vegan Sources of Protein

Following up on my vegan sources of iron article, I’ve decided to publish this vegan sources of protein article. The idea actually came after a couple of friends shared cartoons and a funny story regarding the protein thing. “The protein thing,” by the way, is the absurdly common question people ask vegans and vegetarians: “but where do you get your protein?” The question is baffling to a lifelong vegetarian like myself, as well as almost any informed vegan or vegetarian — there are so many vegan/vegetarian sources of protein! Furthermore, it’s an odd question because a large number of Americans have health problems from eating too much protein (and early death).

Also, it’s worth noting that some of the world’s top athletes have raised the bar of athleticism while on vegan diets. One prime example (from many) is Carl LewisOlympic Athlete of the Century and 10-time Olympic medalist (9 golds and 1 silver).

Anyway, I will show below comparisons of per-serving and per-100g amounts of protein for some vegan foods as well as beef. But, first, here are two cartoons related to protein and veganism (1st via Katalin Sagi and 2nd via Gavin Hudson):

obese proteinvegan sources protein

Gavin also wrote:

 I saw a cartoon once where a concerned non-veg holding a fast food burger asked a veg “where do you get you protein??” And the veg asked “where do you get your vitamin A, B, C, D, etc?”. But I can’t find it so instead here is something useful. :)

One more graphic before I get to the numbers is one I just found via one of the links above:

Do You Eat Too Much Protein?

On to the comparison table…

Food Protein per “serving” Protein per 100 grams
Black Beans 42g (1 cup) 22g
Chickpeas 39g (1 cup) 19g
Chicken 35g (1 cup) 25g
Tempeh 31g (1 cup) 19g
Tofu 18g (1/2 block) 8g
Lentils 18g (1 cup) 9g
Kidney Beans 15g (1 cup) 9g
Almonds 12g (2 oz) 21g
Oatmeal 12g (1 cup) 2.4g
Brazil Nuts 8g (2 oz) 14g
Cashews 10g (2 oz) 18g
Quinoa 8g (1 cup, cooked) 4.4g
Brown Rice 5g (1 cup, cooked) 2.6g
Broccoli 4.2g (1 NLEA serving) 4.2g

Now, remember that the average protein needs of a man is 56g, and a woman 46g. So, a bean-, tofu-, tempeh-focused dinner and pretty much anything else throughout the day is adequate for your protein needs. If you decide to eat some oatmeal with nuts in the morning and some nuts throughout the day, then you can eat a whole grain & veggie dinner and also be fine.

Not so hard. Pretty much what we do naturally without even thinking about protein needs.

  • Christopher Tebo

    Correct me if wrong, but does Fiber do anything to block protein absorption/assimilation? With a trend away from highly processed foods, isn’t soy a non-starter? Studies show that too much soy based protein is problematic in other ways regarding health. I suspect that almond extracts may be the better route?

    So, I happen to love vegetables. But also happen to love naturally raised animal protein. I suspect I am not the only one.

    Part of what I will disagree with is the assumption that vegan production can exist wherever animal husbandry does. While it is true that vinifera production can exist in harsh environments, animal production is quite successful where vegan production would be problematic.

    West Texas, rocky environs, Mongol Steppes, etc. these are areas which are sparsely vegetated and yet animal production exists that is not a burden on the environment (think Acres per boat, sheep, fowl and even cattle). I am sure there are vegan alternatives for these environs but I see little that exists. Also note that water needs are handled locally without the impact of mass production we see on large farms, ranches, etc.

    I do agree that the impact of raising cattle in fertile farming country can be problematic. The other problem is the high concentration of animals in small spaces that causes environmental and indeed health problems for humans.

    What is interesting is to see satellite imagery of the United States. It would surprise most that we are using much LESS land for agricultural and husbandry needs than say the 1950s. We have been gaining in reforestation since then, albeit at a loss to old growth which isn’t a good thing.

    Just food for thought. No agenda, just seeking truth.