“I must eat Steak.” “Sushi may have mercury, but I gotta have it.” Vegan, Vegetarian sources of Protein.

Via elephant journal
on Sep 7, 2009
get elephant's newsletter

vegan protein vegetarian

Update: Soy? Nah.

“I was vegetarian for years, but I’m really active and I just felt better eating meat and/or fish.”

If I’ve heard it once, esp here in my hometown of Boulder, Colorada, I’ve heard it a hundred times. But is it true?

With thanks to Lindsay Nixon. Excerpt (read her whole post for more info on how much protein we need):

…What are protein sources?
Protein is commonly associated with meat, eggs and dairy products but these foods are not the only sources of protein nor are they necessarily the best sources for protein. Protein is found in every food. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes all contain protein. It is impossible to become protein deficient eating a well-balanced vegan diet, largely due to the fact the body needs very little protein to perform. For example, one cup of black beans contains 15.2 grams of protein (roughly 30.5% of the daily value for protein), plus approximately 74.8% of the daily value for fiber. The total calories for a cup of black beans is only 227 calories and there is virtually no fat. Similarly, 100 calories of spinach contains more protein than 100 calories of steak. Like black beans, spinach also delivers a boost of fiber, anti-cancerous properties and iron for only a small amount of calories and no fat. Steak on the other hand, which not only provides less protein and no fiber, it also contains fat and harmful cholesterol.

Another powerhouse protein food is quinoa, a grain. Quinoa is not only high in protein, but it is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Vegans and vegetarians concerned with protein intake should incorporate this healthy grain into their meals. Quinoa is also a good source of magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous and is well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

Cooked soybeans also rank 10th on the World’s Healthiest Foods Containing Protein List beating out eggs including egg whites, all dairy and most meats. In the nutritional community, soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. One cup of soybean provides approximately 57.2% of the daily value for protein for less than 300 calories and with only 2.2 grams of saturated fats. Studies have also shown that soy helps reduce cholesterol levels while consumption of animal proteins makes cholesterol levels rise. Soy is also rich in iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Soy can also be found in a variety of forms such as soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy ice cream, tempeh, meat substitutes, miso, soy protein powder and tofu. Mustard greens, artichokes, corn, lentils, nuts, seeds, meat substitutes, hot cereals and other beans are also excellent sources of dietary protein...read the rest of Lindsay’s article here.

With thanks for the tip to Twitterland:

yoga mydrishti


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


16 Responses to ““I must eat Steak.” “Sushi may have mercury, but I gotta have it.” Vegan, Vegetarian sources of Protein.”

  1. With all due respect to the author, her knowledge of nutrition is minimal. All the protein sources she sites (with the exception of quinoa) are incomplete, lacking in certain key amino acids. This often leads to amino acid deficiencies causing illness.

    And the issues with soy are legion, including estrogen-related cancers, poor digestion (ferments in the gut), nutrient leaching, and others. Soy is linked to breast cancer in women, thyroid dysfunction, and other health issues.

    And the statement about red meat causing cholesterol to rise is also false in that lean meats do not have a negative impact on serum cholesterol and there are many lean cuts of beef and bison.

    Most importantly, however, her comments about the daily requirement of protein are wrong. It varies for the person in question, but the FDA number is the bare minimum. For overall general health, more is better — and if you lift weights (and you should be lifting weights) you'll need quite a bit more (up to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight of COMPLETE proteins) to maintain health.

    Yes, there are many good reasons not to eat meat (environment, factory farms, etc) but we were built to eat meat and have been doing so as long as we have been on the planet. I'll trust evolution over PETA every time.

  2. mike mallory says:

    agreed with the above……..Very poorly written to appeal to a boulder crowd.

    Most protein in vegetables is locked up in insoluble fiber……this is why cows have four stomachs and we only have one!

  3. O. Golden says:

    Absolutely! A little knowledge–when it comes to a complex topic such as nutrition–can be a very dangerous thing, as evidenced here by this article. Cholesterol in and of itself is not "bad", in fact your body needs a certain amount to function properly! Anyone interested in a serious treatment of this topic should definitely check out the excellent "Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol" by Mary G. Enig.

  4. Juell says:

    I have never felt better since cutting meat and fish and animal products from my diet. It is a myth that we must eat meat to thrive. What we crave is the fat and you can get that from cooking with olive oil and using it on salads, bread, etc. And, there are other sources of fat. There are many great cook books not using animal products and the grocery stores carry a number of vegan and/or vegetarian products. Try it for a month and you'll feel the difference.

  5. Paul says:

    I knew vegetarians who were sick on and off during the winter. They started eating animal protein two or three times a week and they felt better and were not getting sick during the winter. Another eye opener is Google "harmful effects of soy". After you read about the harmful effects soy can cause I don't think you would want to eat much of it.

  6. Jenny says:

    to be a really healthy vegetarian you really must eat a ton of vegetables. a lot of vegetarians eat mainly grains, soy and processed foods. it robs our gut. i am back to eating meat and feel a lot better. i wish i could eat beans like i use to be able to but my days of eating lots of grains, soy and processed (vegetarian) food are over. my body is happy right now on some meat. i never thought i would say that.

  7. Bryant says:

    Excellent comments, but you can be sure that the author already has a bucketload of stock replies. Arguing with a vegan is like looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.

  8. […] a never-ending process of learning and evolving, becoming obsessed with the newest health craze, and then swearing it off altogether when it turns out to be bad for […]

  9. Quote of the day!

  10. I'm not vegan, but I am veggie—and eat oragnic and local (except when at restaurants), eat healthfully, eat a ton of protein—I'm reasonably athletic and 190 pounds. And I have enough energy to put the Valmont Coal Plant out of business.

  11. […] calcium and magnesium supplements. Research suggests that magnesium deficiency is often related to insomnia and restlessness at […]

  12. Angelika Harabin says:

    regrading comments above like the author probably having a bucketful of stock replies – It occasionally seems to me that the new meat eaters are the most defensive and preachy .

  13. […] But nagging doubts often come up. Are plant proteins adequate for athletes and body builders? Are they really the preferred protein source of the human body? Are they better than animal based protein or are they just consumed for environmental […]

  14. riverwhy says:

    William Harryman (and others)make some good points about nutrition missing in the article. I agree with all of them. And I just want to remind those of us who eat meat that we can do so without becoming defensive and more importantly that we don't disregard the importance of facing the huge moral, environmental and health issues associated with the toxic and cruel factory farm industry. Please don't become hardened to this issue as it affects all of our lives – whether you are a meat eater or vegan. What is most important is to find common ground so we can humanely change the way we eat on this planet. Everyone wants whole healthy food, and I believe most if not all people want to treat all life( wild and domesticated animals as well) with dignity, respect, even love. We can solve these problems if we really want to by listening to whats behind the words and not getting defensive. We want healthy food, and we want to make the best choices for our own health. Can we do this while still allowing people choice, protecting and sustaining the environment for all life forms – not just humans? Our planet and it's beautiful life forms all deserve dignity and a chance at a healthy happy life. Can we have what we want without sacrificing or changing something?

  15. boulderlova says:

    I really enjoyed your comment the most. I'm a former veggie (about four years) who absolutely has become healthier and happier since resuming a meaty diet. I've been eating meat again for several years now, and my weight has remained steady during that time at about 50 lbs below my high of 210. I'm a 5'5" woman, 39 years old now.
    I believe that, contrary to your last sentence there, sacrifice is required in life. Suffering is a normal part of life, but we don't need to be gratuitous or tasteless about it. We should treat all animals with respect and understanding, even the ones raised for meat.
    When I was a veggie, I did it as an economic protest against the way animals are treated in factory farms. I still have huge concerns about that. I believe that there can be a market for meat among people who are reasonably compassionate, and who can vote for more humane treatment with their dollars. I'd like to see meat (and gasoline, but I digress) cost a whole lot more than it does now.
    As others have mentioned, the article is negligent in failing to mention the significant breast cancer risk related to a soy-heavy diet. Another issue — sugar!! How many vegans do you know who aren't addicted to sugar?

  16. boulderlova says:

    It's from Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone (a vegan, and one of the most beautiful women in the world, IMO).

    — posted by one of those ex-veggies who is much healthier for eating a full diet.