How do you get your protein?

No one cares about your protein intake until they find out you're vegan.We had to laugh when we found this gem on this morning.

Seriously though, people ask this a lot. The answer for which is well documented already. I’ll summarize my knowledge and what I believe nonetheless.

We have a protein obsessed culture with athletes at the top of the list. It’s funny how certain everyone is that the more protein we consume the better off we are. It’s common knowledge, right? Who told us that and can we trust the source? Where’s the evidence? (follow the money) The amount of protein we should consume is a contentious issue to the say the least and inconclusive scientific results just perpetuate this ongoing debate. It goes without saying that big business and government (with vested interests in dairy and meat sales) want to continue to disseminate misinformation.

After wading through all the B.S., my opinion and experience thus far tells me that we needn’t stress out about protein intake. Everyone is getting more than enough protein already. It’s everywhere. In fact, many plant sources of protein are actually higher than meat. Sure, not all proteins are equal but again, the jury is still out on that too.

There is no magic formula nor one perfect source. As you might expect, eating a well balanced diet with many different types of protein is best. However, when I’m feeling the need to seek out high sources of protein, I reach for:

  • Tempeh
  • Quinoa – black, red, rainbow (in the order)
  • Lentils – black, green, and red (in that order)
  • Beans – black, pinto
  • Chick Peas
  • Nuts and Nut Butters – almonds, cashews, walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Seitan
  • Broccoli
  • Veggies
  • Spirulina
  • Field Roast vegan sausage and other meat substitutes.

There it is, another definitive list to help fuel the fire.

What are antioxidants?

WebMD – Antioxidants and Your Immune System: Super Foods for Optimal Health

They are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Many experts believe this damage plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections.

Vitamin B12

I’ve done a lot of searching online for the truth about vitamin B12. Here are some links I consider to be trustworthy sources based on my own experiences.

  1. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet
  2. What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12
  3. Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health
Interestingly enough, B12 actually comes from bacteria in the soil in which plants grow.

We all have different nutritional requirements, so it’s difficult to speculate what the average vegan might need. I can tell you this, however, I am a 42 year old in good health and I decided I would try to derive all of my B12 from ‘natural’ sources, in other words, without vitamin supplements. I had fortified almond milk, nutritional yeast and fish in my diet. What could go wrong?

As it turns out, I wasn’t getting enough B12, despite a blood test indicating that I was within the normal range. In fact, about a month into my new diet I was experiencing many of the symptoms caused by vitamin B12 deficiency without even knowing it. Two doctors and several blood tests later and the truth was finally revealed.

In retrospect, I should have started a B12 supplement the same day I started my new diet. I’m not a doctor nor even a trained nutritionist and I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to monitor their own health and to discover what works best for themselves. Having said that, I would advise any new vegan to immediately start a B12 vitamin supplement. There are no known side effects to ingesting too much B12, so why not? It’s a cheap and worthwhile insurance policy.