The Question…..Again?


Lots Of Ways To Get Protein

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?

Bell Pepper Nutrition Facts

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.


Broccoli Nutrition Facts

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 Ico_delete
Brussel Sprouts – Brussels Sprouts, Cooked, 1 cup (100g) 40 5 0 4 Ico_delete
Cabbage – Red, raw, 1 cup, chopped 28 7 0 1 Ico_delete
Oil – Olive, 3 tablespoon 119 0 41 0 Ico_delete
Veg – Spaghetti Squash, 2 cup (155g each) 84 8 2 2 Ico_delete
Walnut Pieces – Walnuts, 1/4 cup 100 2 10 5 Ico_delete
Garlic – Raw, 3 cloves 13 3 0 1 Ico_delete
Add Food

398 27 26 15

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.


50% Of Your Plate Should Be Fruits And Vegetables

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?


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  1. Michelle says:

    Yep – get the question all the time. I now just ramble off “there are plenty of very high protein vegetables out there, plus nuts, beans, etc. The American diet is so centered around an unnecessary ideal of what constitutes required proteins as is, you actually need much less than you think you do.” Plus, I’m a frickin triathlete in pretty decent shape, so folks know I’m not starving. And I can still compete with the best of them.

    I had to laugh though a bit when i read this post in Google reader – the ad at the top was a picture of a giant cheeseburger for one of those groupon type deals :p

    • CTER says:

      That is hilarious. Even Google ties the word protein to hamburgers…….

      I agree with you on the performance. I have raced 3 weekends in a row (70.3 San Juan, RnR Dallas Half-Mary, A2A Half-Mary) and each one I improved my performance to the point that the race last weekend I was 7th in my AG and 30th overall.
      CTER recently posted..The Question…..Again?My Profile

  2. At least your clients ask questions based on a modicum of intelligence. I don’t bother mixing my endurance pursuits with anyone I work with, it’s just too painful.
    Patrick Mahoney recently posted..So, What’s Next?My Profile

  3. Ugh…I hear it a lot too! Actually, that’s why I posted the link to Anton’s article on my FB page b/c I thought maybe people would read it and finally stop asking the question. The stupid thing about it, in my opinion, is that the majority of people that aren’t vegetarian aren’t even paying attention to how much protein they’re actually getting anyways, so why do they even care? Ugh..enough with the protein already!
    Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) recently posted..Newly Found MotivationMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I need to go check out that link since I seemed to have missed it. Maybe I just need to take a day or two before doing so because I was so fired up yesterday.

      And I agree that most people who make that claim about protein are ignorant as to how much one person needs or even how much they are getting.
      CTER recently posted..The Question…..Again?My Profile

  4. misszippy says:

    It is the unending question, that is for sure. I think so much of it is fueled by our society’s belief that we should be eating a diet of about 98 percent protein/2 percent anything else. That and the fact that no one understands that there are sources other than meat for protein. Hopefully you just shut it down for good! ; )
    misszippy recently posted..Bullseye!My Profile

    • CTER says:

      I watched a documentary about McDonald’s going across the world and how people were eating McDonald’s because they needed protein……WHAT?

      I started rambling on and on and then caught myself and stopped rambling because I did not want to have word vomit on this poor woman.
      CTER recently posted..The Question…..Again?My Profile

  5. Jeff Irvin says:

    Just admit it Jason — you really wanted a big ass bacon cheeseburger when we were at Bill’s Cafe!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Ironman Mont-Tremblant Training Week #1My Profile

    • CTER says:

      I’ll tell you what I will admit too…..more restaurants need to have that order the appetizer by the piece option. That was perfect. I’ll have 4 fried dill pickles and boom…..4 fried dill pickles for $.40…..PERFECTION!

      The grilled cheese was pretty good too…..haha!
      CTER recently posted..The Question…..Again?My Profile

  6. So, wait, where do you get your protein?

    Smart ass!
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..My Weekend in Sidney, MTMy Profile

  7. Natasha says:

    Just this last weekend I was in the car for a relay and one of the runners (who is in medical school) said she use to be vegan and has been doing some research and found info that suggested being vegan especially for athletes can be detremental because having those levels of glucose stores can wreak havac on the pancreas. Now I know in my heart that my vegetarian diet has been good for me and I know it makes me feel better and everytime I have tests ran at the doctor’s they tell me all my protein, vitamin etc levels are ok but now you have a car full of ppl believing her, how do you counter that?
    Natasha recently posted..Impromptu Midnight Relay for a Cause!My Profile

    • CTER says:

      Just like that Golden Corral commercial I would jump out of the car……haha! Seriously though I would point to the fact that there are athletes competing at an elite level living on a vegetarian/vegan diet in Scott Jurek and Rich Roll to just name two.

      Rip Esselstyn of Engine 2 Diet fame (part of Forks Over Knives) was a pro triathlete for 10 years before becoming a fire fighter. I would imagine that the demands on his body are far and above what the demands are for those in the car and he lives on a plant-based diet.

      This perpetuation that protein only comes in one form is ridiculous and even more absurd is he belief that you cannot do it on a plant-based diet. It is no different than anything else in life in which people don’t do the research to figure out what it is really about.

      We have to keep talking about it, in a non-lecture manner, to show that it can be done. People don’t have to live the lifestyle if they don’t want but they also should be more educated about it and not sh*t on the lifestyle.
      CTER recently posted..Is Sugar A Drug?My Profile

  8. There is tons of protein out there for vegetarians it’s totally not worth adding the fat from meats into the diet. I bet you hear that from overweight or obese meat-eaters. I used to get that all the time.
    Carolina John recently posted..Pacer ReportMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      John – surprisingly it was from two people that are fairly lean, but they also tell me how healthy they eat as they are shoveling burritos the size of Texas into their pie hole.

      I am always amazed when people tell me how healthy they eat and then I ask them to take a food journal for 3 days and lo and behold it is filled with crap.

      Leave me and my vegetarian diet alone and don’t preach to me about eating protein when you are guzzling processed foods and foods laden with fat. It amazes me the holier than though approach some people take. We all have different needs and wants and feel free to eat as you please but don’t complain that you are short of breathe or can’t walk up stairs if you are not going address what fuel you put in your body.
      CTER recently posted..Is Sugar A Drug?My Profile

  9. Marni Sumbal says:

    Nice read and great comments. 19 years meat-free…..5 Ironman finishes and lots of love for all my furry (and slimmy) living-beings out there. It’s not about what you can’t eat but what you can eat. Thanks for posting!

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