Do Vegans Get Enough Protein?
During a routine check-up a couple of years ago, my doctor told me, “You need to eat meat.” This was his knee-jerk reaction to hearing that I was exclusively vegan. Then he asked where I get my protein from.
I responded that it comes from:
He didn’t think that was enough. But he had his own practice and might not have had time to keep up with medical-journal research – including the largest study ever done on plant-based eating and protein intake.
In 2013, Loma Linda University researchers published their 5-year meta-analysis of “dietary profiles” from 71,751 members of the local Seventh-Day Adventist community.
They separated the participants into:
Non Vegetarian, whose diet includes all meats, fish, eggs, and milk.
Semi Vegetarian, who occasionally consume meats, fish, eggs, and milk.
Pesco Vegetarian, whose diet includes fish, eggs, and milk, but no other meat.
Lacto Ovo Vegetarian, whose diet includes eggs and milk, but no fish or other meat.
and Strict Vegetarian, whose diet includes only plant-based foods.
The strict vegetarians received their protein from plant-based sources, including soy. When added up, their total daily intake was nearly identical to that of the non and pesco vegetarian groups.
And it slightly exceeded that of the semi and lacto-ovo vegetarians!
In this NutritionFacts.org video reviewing the study, Dr. Michael Greger observes, “The average requirement is 42 grams of protein a day.”
Yet, according to the study’s chart, all the groups were getting a total of 70 to 80 grams per day:
Dr. Greger does the math for us: “On average, vegetarians and vegans get 70 percent more protein than they need every day.”
Yes, you read that right. Seventy percent more protein than we need, every single day!
Researchers clearly debunked the “vegans don’t get enough protein” idea. Strict Vegetarians actually get way more protein than necessary.
When I returned for my blood-test results a couple of weeks later, my doctor informed me that except for Vitamin D, all my results looked “… really good for your age.” Clearly impressed, he didn’t mention diet again.
Even so, he’s now my ex-doctor. I’ve since found a plant-friendly physician!