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Can’t get enough protein

But you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet!

A common misconception with non-vegans is that a vegan diet is that it’s difficult or impossible to get enough protein.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
- Harvard Health Publishing

So for a 70kg human, that would be a requirement of about 56 grams per day.

Daily Protein Illustration

An illustrative daily meal plan might look like the below

Breakfast - Peanut Butter Toast

Meal Protein: 10.68
Meal Kcals: 319kcal

Lunch - Bean Burger

Meal Protein: 41.99
Meal Kcals: 440kcals


Meal Protein: 42.22g
Meal Kcals: 709kcal

Day Summary

Day Protein: 94.89g
Day Calories: 1468kcals

This example meal plan is not intended to be a balanced, complete, or even tasty (no oil or onions were included!) diet, merely illustrate that we have easily provided 1.67 times the RDA for a 70kg human being, with ~1,200 calories to spare of their 2680kcal limit .

What about complete proteins?

Protein is made from twenty-plus basic building blocks called amino acids. Because we don’t store amino acids, our bodies make them in two different ways: either from scratch, or by modifying others. Nine amino acids […] known as the essential amino acids, must come from food.
- Harvard School of Public Health

A concern sometimes levied against plant protein is that it’s not ‘complete’.

plant-based foods [..] often lack one or more essential amino acid. Those who abstain from eating animal-based foods can eat a variety of protein-containing plant foods each day in order to get all the amino acids needed to make new protein, and also choose to incorporate complete plant proteins like quinoa and chia seeds.
- Harvard School of Public Health

This means that variety is key in a vegan diet (as in any diet), to ensure you get a complete source of proteins.

The same (non-vegan) Harvard source even goes on to recommend plant protein sources over animal ones.

Get your protein from plants when possible. Eating legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and other plant-based sources of protein is a win for your health and the health of the planet. If most of your protein comes from plants, make sure that you mix up your sources so no “essential” components of protein are missing. The good news is that the plant kingdom offers plenty of options to mix and match.
- Harvard School of Public Health


Article Contributors

Sam Martin