Myth: “A vegetarian diet doesn’t provide enough protein for optimal health.”


Where do you get your protein?” That’s the first question people usually ask me when I tell them I’m vegetarian.

Imagine their shock when I list a staggering assortment of delicious, whole-plant food sources of quality protein! And then, imagine their amazement when I state that, in fact, most people don’t need to worry about “getting enough”, because North Americans typically consume too much protein each day. Can this be true? I kid you not!

Although there is somewhat less protein in a vegetarian diet, this is actually an advantage. A diet high in protein can actually contribute to osteoporosis, cancer, and kidney disease.

Plant-based foods high in protein include quinoa, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, beans, nuts, seeds, soy milk, and many vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, asparagus, spinach, and snowpeas).

– Bev Miller, RD

Vegans can easily meet their protein needs by eating a variety of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables on a daily basis. And vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products get even more.

It was once thought that grains and legumes had to be combined within a single meal to provide complete protein. The latest research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all of the essential amino acids you need. This is the postion of American Dietetic Association.

More information:

See the protein section from the American Dietetic Association’s Vegetarian Position Paper

The Protein Myth, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Eating a traditional Western diet, the average person consumes about double the protein their body needs. Excess protein is linked to osteoporosis and kidney disease. Heart disease can be another risk factor since high-protein diets often encourage consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products, which in turn are all high in cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat. Also, certain proteins present in meat and fish are linked to cancer when these foods are grilled or fried at high temperatures.

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