Am I getting enough protein?

There’s one question vegans seem to get more often than any other: How do you get protein? I get this question just about every time that I tell someone I’m vegan.

I get this question just about every time that I tell someone I’m vegan. Honestly, I wondered this when I was thinking about going vegan. My mom was VERY concerned about this. I thought that protein only came from meat and other animal products. Really, I don’t think I even understood that there are three parts to food (protein, carbs, and fat). I was just going on blind faith.

And that’s what it was: blind.

We are bombarded from all directions with the belief that the only real protein you can get is from animals. It’s everywhere! Because it’s everywhere, we seem to think that makes it true. But even if everyone in the world said blue is green, that doesn’t make blue green.

While I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I like to read. Here are some facts I’ve found from others who are a bit smarter than me and have been at it a bit longer.


The experts

In his book, Eat to Live, Dr. Joel Furhman says the recommended amount of protein is 0.8 mg/kg of body weight. For a 140 lb person, this is 50.8 g a day. The average American consumes 100 g. Also, this 50.8 isn’t a minimum. It’s what we’re shooting for. If you get a little more one day and a little less the next, it’s perfectly okay.

Backing this up, Sophie Egan, author of Devoured: How what we eat defines who we are, says women only need 46 g of protein a day and men 56 g.

Here’s a chart to help with conversions.

120 lb. 43.5 g
130 lb. 47.2 g
140 lb. 50.8 g
150 lb. 54.4 g
160 lb. 58.0 g
170 lb. 61.7 g
180 lb. 65.3 g
190 lb. 68.9 g
200 lb. 72.6 g
210 lb. 76.2 g


The takeaway

The key to getting the right amount of protein that I’ve found is to shoot for the ideal number, but don’t get so hung up on the exact numbers. If it helps, track where your protein intake is at for a few weeks to get a gauge. In the next post is a list of protein dense plants.

Personally, I stay in tune with my body. If I am feeling off, I take stock of what I’m taking into my body. If I realize I’m missing a lot of protein (which isn’t often) I’ll eat some. As your taste buds adjust, follow your “cravings” for plant-based foods. Most likely, you’re craving that plant because of a nutrient or protein you are missing. Trust yourself a little more.