Q

How much protein do I need, and is it possible to get enough through a plant-based diet?

Protein intake is a common concern and often a misunderstood issue when speaking with regard to a vegan diet.  Its function in the body is to assist with cell growth and repair, as well as assist in immunity and hormone production.  The daily human body requirement is approximately 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight.  (To get kilograms, just divide your weight by 2.2)  Therefore, a healthy person weighing 130 lbs would require approximately 60 grams of protein per day.  Please note that these requirements vary through life stages (childhood, pregnancy, lactation).  In today’s society, we tend to have the mentality that one can never have too much of anything – and this applies to protein as well.  Though the Atkins craze is slowing, Americans still consume considerably more protein than what is recommended.  Excessive amounts of animal protein have been linked to osteoporosis and kidney disease.  There are a variety of plant foods that can provide substantial amounts of protein without the cholesterol and saturated fat that is offered in animal protein.  Soy, seitan, quinoa (a grain), beans, and nuts are just a few of these protein powerhouses.  There is no need to worry about the issue of ‘complementary proteins’ in order to ensure you are getting all your essential amino acids.  That is far too complicated and eating should not be complicated.  A well-varied vegan diet can provide your body with the protein it needs.  Now go and enjoy that tofu stir-fry without any worries.