Can you get enough protein on a vegan diet?

September 09, 2019

Since childhood, we’ve been taught to associate protein with meat, dairy and eggs. In fact, most people question: how could one possibly get enough protein and find strength on a diet that excludes these animal-based foods? However, overwhelming scientific research has proven time and time again that there is little reason to be concerned. In fact, a well-balanced plant-based diet with an adequate calorie intake can provide more than enough protein for both the average person and a professional athlete - whilst also improving overall health and well-being. Just ask professional athletes in the likes of Venus Williams, Lewis Hamilton and Novak Djokovic if they’re getting enough protein!

The point is that while any diet can make us look fit, the benefit of a plant-based diet is that beyond making us look fit, it can promote longevity and prevent long-term chronic disease. In fact, while animal protein may indeed contain a substantial amount of protein, it also contains a whole range of other things too, such as saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium which have been shown to increase one's risk of developing cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, not only are plant proteins to supply us with adequate protein, their benefits extend far past their protein content: plant foods are generally packed with dietary fibre, non-heme iron and unsaturated fats making them an all-around healthier choice. I don’t know about you, but it seems like a no brainer to me!

So, how much protein do we actually need?

The Australian Government’s Nutrient Reference Values indicate that the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for an average person is 0.84 grams of protein per kg for men and 0.75 grams per kg for women. For example, a woman who weighs 65 kg should aim for 49g of protein each day. This is super achievable on a plant-based diet!

Great plant sources of protein are beans, tempeh, tofu, lentils and quinoa, but almonds, hemp seeds, peanuts, hummus and pulse pasta all provide plenty of protein per serving. It’s also worth noting that the majority of plant foods such as vegetables or fruits also contain some protein, which may not seem like much in itself, but over the course of a whole day they can definitely add up.

Above all, try not to stress the protein too much: the truth is protein deficiency is extremely rare, and in fact, most individuals on a standard western diet are consuming too much of it, causing a strain on our kidneys and liver. The bottom line is that a well-balanced plant-based diet rich in legumes, nuts, grains, seeds and vegetables can easily supply the body with enough high-quality protein.