“When I tell people that I’m vegan, the first question asked is, ‘How do you get enough protein?’ This immediately tells me that the person knows little or nothing about nutrition.” – Robert Cheeke, vegan bodybuilder and author
Ever since the day I switched to a vegetarian lifestyle way back when, this was the question that popped up everywhere I went. “So where do you get your protein?” “Are you sure you’re getting enough protein?” “Won’t you get sick?” “Don’t you feel weak?” “You must be unhealthy” “You must be missing something” “This is unhealthy” “You will get sick”
And it used to be bother me SO MUCH. I used to get really defensive and answer back meanly, or sarcastically, or have my huge argument ready. Now I know it is simply ignorance that makes most of the world think that the only, or at least the most important, source of protein comes from animal meat and products. This is 10000000% totally untrue! As a vegetarian, you get protein from milk products and eggs, as well as very reliable plant sources. And as a vegan, well, it is virtually impossible NOT to get enough protein, unless you are really on an unhealthy diet (which, of course, you can be even as an omnivore, if not more so!)
I never used to monitor my food intake, and I never once got sick because of a lack of a certain nutrient. I have been working out for over 3 years now, and have never felt weak or unable to get through a workout. But I must say this: ever since making the change in my health and fitness this passed year, I have noticed dramatic differences in my health, and my body has changed amazingly for it. Not only on the outside (but yes, I have SO much muscle, and it is growing every day!), but also on the inside. I haven’t gotten sick (*knock on wood*) in MONTHS, of course my body is sore after a workout but I have so much energy, my digestion is incredible and right on schedule, I can concentrate and remember things now more than ever, my hair and nails grow incredibly fast and strong. A vegan diet isn’t necessarily a healthy one, but it definitely can be the healthiest of all!
To explain this a little further, let me borrow an excerpt from Robert Cheeke’s book “Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness“: “It is proven by scores of scientific studies that plant-based sources of protein are easier for the human body to digest and absorb. Plus, plant-based foods do not come with many of the negative health implications associated with a diet rich in animal protein such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Another advantage of plant-based foods is that they help promote an alkaline environment in the body. All animal protein is acid-forming, whereas most plant protein is alkaline-forming. Essentially, an alkaline diet is the exact opposite of a high protein, high fat, low carb diets that have recently been in vogue. Because our body’s ideal pH is slightly alkaline, our diets should reflect this and also be slightly alkaline. A diet high in acidic foods such as animal protein sugar, caffeine and processed foods tend to deplete the body of alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, making us more susceptible to chronic and degenerative disease.”
Eating acid-forming foods (animal proteins) causes an immense amount of stress on your body. Your body is an amazing machine, and it works so hard for you every single day to keep you healthy and moving and alive. By adding all this extra nutritional stress, on top of exercising (another HUGE, but GOOD, stress), on top of emotional and work stress, on top of…….. well, you see where I’m going. Your body can only do so much before it gets overloaded with tasks to complete. It’s like a computer. It works great with only one application open, but as you keep opening applications and windows, and playing a few videos at the same time, it starts to slow down, and eventually, it will crash. A diet high in plant foods will eliminate nutritional stress on your body, allowing it some relief in that area. That way, it can focus on everything else it has to do, such as repair your body super quickly after a workout so you can hit it hard the next day. And I have noticed this! As I eat cleaner and healthier, my body can work so much harder every single day, day after day after day. I can push myself to limits I never thought I could go before, because my diet is making my body have an easier time.
I’m going to be perfectly, squeaky clean honest with you: I get AT LEAST 90-120 grams of protein EVERY SINGLE DAY. And most days, I don’t even try! I’ve just become accustomed to eating protein-rich foods that they easily make their way into my every day meals. Anyone looking to build more lean muscle should aim to get 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and because my main goal these days IS to build lean muscle mass, I am right on target. So you see, it is very possible and very easy to get an adequate amount of protein, if not MORE, on a vegan diet!
Here is a list of high-protein plant foods for you to peruse. Some foods may sound foreign, and I will write posts in the future talking about some of these foods, and how I like to cook and eat them! Stay tuned for some recipes 🙂
So let’s recap:
– I am a vegan and I get 90-120 grams of protein EVERY DAY!
– I have never been sick due to a lack of nutrients.
– I feel strong and great during my workouts and afterward.
– Whole fruits and veggies are FULL of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein in the body.
– The more whole foods you eat, the more protein you eat and can absorb!
– Monitoring your food intake (with apps such as My Fitness Pal), you can accurately track your protein consumption if you are at all concerned or curious, and make adjustments where necessary
– EXPERIMENT! Have fun with this. Try out different foods and recipes, eat a little more protein at every meal, see how you feel afterward.
– ALWAYS have a protein shake after a workout. I like VEGA and Shakeology.
– Whole, plant-based protein is easy for your body to digest and metabolize
– Whole, plant-based protein places little to no nutritional stress on your body
– Your body is AMAZING, but has limits. Relieve some of the stress by switching to plants whenever possible.
– Animal protein and sugar is acid-forming, and too much acid depletes your body of essential nutrients, making it susceptible to disease.
– Eating clean is a process! Don’t worry too much about it. Take baby steps. Replace some foods every day with healthier versions.
– Try to eliminate processed foods from your diet and replace them with their whole, fresh counterparts.
– Always aim for PROGRESS, not PERFECTION.
– If you truly wish to be healthier, then you will be. But don’t make a complete flip in your diet and life, make it MAINTAINABLE and SUSTAINABLE.
– HAVE A DIET, don’t be on a diet.
– Research! Read books! Here are some great books I’ve learned a lot from:
– Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – Robert Cheeke
– The Thrive Diet – Brendan Brazier
– The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone
– PUSH – Chalene Johnson
– Know that even if you do not wish to become vegan or vegetarian, you can still eat from the list I have provided. Plant foods are good for ANYONE!
(There are also great sources of lean muscle-building protein that aren’t made of plans, for those who are wondering. If someone asks me what they’d recommend that isn’t vegan, here is what I say: NUMBER ONE: ALWAYS make sure it is organic and free range. Egg whites, eggs, suflate-free lean meats, greek yogurt, low-fat cheeses, cottage cheese, whey protein (not isolate, but whole). And add some salad in there too ^.^)
Thank you all so much for reading! I hope I could clarify some points, and answered some questions. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me!
Have a wonderful Friday! TGIF!
Peace, love and veggies,