Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?

Sydney Merrill

Veganism is a largely debated topic, and the population of vegans and vegetarians has skyrocketed in the recent years. Where vegans and vegetarians get nutrients such as protein, vitamin b-12, calcium, and is not known to all people.

Protein is found in every food we eat, in either small or larger amounts. The World Health Organization recommends that men and women intake 5% of their calories from protein per day, and that pregnant women get 6%. For a man who burns 3000 calories per day, this requirement would be 38 grams of protein. For a woman burning 2300 calories per day, this would be 29 grams of protein. For vegans who are specifically looking for larger quantities of protein, lentils contain 18 grams per cup, beans contain 39 grams per cup, quinoa contains 8 grams per cup, chickpeas contain 39 grams per cup, and many others are major contributors. If a person is to eat the appropriate amount of calories on a plant-based diet, they should easily match their protein needs.

A healthy vegan meal, full of essential nutrients.
A healthy vegan meal, full of essential nutrients.

Vitamin b-12 is a bacteria that occurs in the soil, and is often found on plants. B-12 is important for maintaining proper brain function. Meat eaters get b-12 from eating meat, as animals digest a lot of b-12, so humans consume b-12 indirectly as tertiary consumers. Because food is now sprayed with pesticides, it is not recommended that humans consume produce without washing it. This is why vegans cannot get b-12 without supplementation in either pill form or in fortified foods.

Calcium is important for preventing osteoporosis, a bone disease that causes weakness and breaking. People who consume dairy get calcium from the products they eat, but vegans can get calcium from dark, leafy greens, and plant milks. Contrary to popular belief, dairy products are not the key to strong bones; consuming dairy can actually lead to osteoporosis. Milk, like other animal proteins, causes the body’s pH levels to rise. The body then responds by taking the basic calcium from your bones to neutralize the pH imbalance caused by the milk. The human body cannot absorb all of the calcium from cows’ milk, so this leaves the body at a calcium deficit instead of a gain.  In fact, in a Harvard study called, “Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study” it was found that of 78,000 women, those who drank milk three times a day actually broke more bones than women who rarely drank milk.

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