Thee question has resurfaced twice in the past week and just when I thought I would not have to answer it again. What is thee question? That would be the ‘Where do you get your protein?’ question from those that you inform them that you are a vegetarian. I am not sure why I’m confused by this but I am. Is it because I am involved in this lifestyle and so I assume that everybody knows that you can actually get protein from eating a vegetarian diet? Maybe it’s because I think that people are paying more attention to what they are eating and thus doing some research on their food.
I am not sure why I’m confused by this but I am and so I am going to discuss the protein idea/myth for vegetarians again, but feel free to read this post and this post as well. If those aren’t enough then feel free to read this post or this post.
Yesterday at a business lunch the person next to me made the following statements/questions:
- So you work out everyday of the week?
- So you eat healthy all the time?
- You’re a vegetarian? Where do you get your protein?
When I got home I saw a link to an article written by Rich Roll titled Slaying The Protein Myth. This is very well written and much better than I’m going to say it so go ahead and read it after you read what I have to say.
Protein in my mind is the most oversold macronutrient. Everywhere you go people are talking about or trying to sell you more and more protein. Is it necessary? Of course it is, but it is not the only macronutrient that we need. We need carbs and fats as well. Trying to get rid of one in favor of the other two is a mistake so my frustration lies in this question as not a vegetarian but as a person who wants to live a healthy lifestyle.
Protein is in everything we consume. The pictures to the right are the nutrition facts for bell peppers and broccoli. It is not a ton of protein in comparison to a steak but there it is. As a vegetarian I have to put together dishes to create a complete protein but in reality it is not that hard. Toss a bunch of different colored vegetables into a pan and voila you have complete proteins (amino acids.)
Last night for dinner I tossed spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts (chopped), red cabbage (chopped), spinach pesto and sriracha into a pan and cooked it. It looked horrible but the taste was unreal and check out the amount of protein I got in my meal:
|Spinach – Raw, 2 cup||14||2||0||2|
|Brussel Sprouts – Brussels Sprouts, Cooked, 1 cup (100g)||40||5||0||4|
|Cabbage – Red, raw, 1 cup, chopped||28||7||0||1|
|Oil – Olive, 3 tablespoon||119||0||41||0|
|Veg – Spaghetti Squash, 2 cup (155g each)||84||8||2||2|
|Walnut Pieces – Walnuts, 1/4 cup||100||2||10||5|
|Garlic – Raw, 3 cloves||13||3||0||1|
15 grams of protein in my meal for 398 calories with over half of them coming from the olive oil to make the pesto. Those 15g of protein represent 15% of the calories and that is exactly where you want to have your protein in terms of calories.
Can we come to an agreement that eating a vegetarian diet is not lacking in protein? Can we agree that while it takes a bit more ‘work’ to create a complete amino acid that putting together various colored veggies accomplishes said goal? Can we agree that if we follow the food plate where 50% of our meal is to be fruits and vegetables we would accomplish the task of getting protein into our diet fairly easily?
Maybe I’m just raging and getting tired of the question especially when it came up twice in less than a week. I have tried to explain to people who if you consume beans and lentils, or maybe eat quinoa instead of rice that you would accomplish the task but I get the look of confusion. I don’t blame the people I talk to but instead I blame those that are selling their ‘food’ products as having X grams of protein as if that is the only macronutrient on the planet.
Are you a vegetarian? If so, how often do you face the dreaded where do you get your protein from question?
Are you a carnivore and wonder where vegetarians get their protein from?