I've been asked this question so many times since becoming vegan (heck, even when I became vegetarian!) that I've lost track. This seems to be such a big concern that I want to touch briefly on a few of the issues and possibly allay some fears. A friend of mine recently answered this questions by saying, "The short answer is 'everywhere'!" In fact, you may be surprised to know that most plant foods contain protein.
If you eat high-quality, nutritious, plant-based foods in standard portions, it's likely that you are getting enough protein, especially if you live in a developed country. The source of this protein confusion is that the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein is based on animal sources of protein, which are digested differently from plant foods. Some of my favorite healthy and delicious foods include organic greens: kale, collards, spinach; organic grains: quinoa, brown rice; and organic beans: pink beans, lentils and garbanzos.
In the US, most people eat too much protein. Take a look at some of the most common health problems in our society and you'll see that they all point to over-consumption of animal products: heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, kidney disease, obesity, cancer and more. Even the American Dietetic Association acknowledges the benefits of a veg diet!
I suspect there are more people who are deficient in dark leafy greens than in protein. I love this ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) chart from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's website. After seeing this, I immediately boosted our family's kale intake and as a result, I am the lucky Mama of a toddler who LOVES kale.
It's easy to get enough protein on a vegan diet and many top athletes do just that. Take a look! If they can get their nutritional needs met on a vegan diet, I'm confident that those of us who aren't professionals are perfectly fine. If you wish to delve more deeply into this topic, information abounds on the web, making it easy to get in-depth education. And when all else fails, let your body be your guide.
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