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You Asked: Vegetarians and Protein

Hey Fit,
I once heard that vegetarians need to eat more (vegetable-based) protein than meat-eaters need to eat in a given day. For example, if a 120 lb. non-vegetarian would need to eat 43 grams of protein a day, a vegetarian of the same weight would need to eat more than 43 grams of veggie protein. Do you know if this is true?
- Pondering About Protein Pamela

This is a great question that I'm sure many other vegetarians have been wondering the same thing. First of all, it's good to know that proteins are made up of amino acids. Twelve are manufactured by the human body, and 9, called essential amino acids, we must get from our diet.

Can we get them all from plant sources? To find out

A complete protein is a food that contains all the essential amino acids. Animal protein like meat and dairy products are complete proteins, but it's also possible to get all your essential amino acids from plant sources. In order to get a vegetarian complete protein, you need to combine foods to make one. Beans and rice are a popular complete protein, but so is nut butter on whole grain bread, and hummus on pita. Recent research shows that you don't need to combine these foods all in one meal. You can combine them over a 2-day period.

So it doesn't really matter where you get these essential amino acids, as long as you get them. Your weight will determine just how much protein you need. A 120 lb woman needs to eat about 43g of protein a day. A 130 lb woman needs to eat about 47g of protein a day, and a 150 lb woman needs to eat about 50g of protein a day.

There are so many plant sources of protein and meat alternatives. As long as vegetarians eats a wide variety of foods they'll be able to get all the amino acids they need, and they don't need to eat extra plant protein to get them.


Winett Winett 8 years
best info about proteins ever! i want to be a veggie and this is such a good source to start
hardcorecupcakex hardcorecupcakex 8 years
Great article
Camarogirl67 Camarogirl67 10 years
Thank you for talking about this. I'm so sick of hearing that I don't get enough protein (as a vegetarian). I have better muscle tone than most of my friends! Yay for green veggies, tofu, nuts and brown rice yay!
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
seems like lots of the Teamsugar gals (bella and geek...and others too i think?!) are veggies. :) i dunno why that makes me happy but it does. i totally get enough protein being vegan - i eat hummas a lot, dhal (cooked lentils), rice, chickpeas etc everyday.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
I'm glad I could clear this up!
aanyanka aanyanka 10 years
Thanks for the info! I have recently (4 months ago) stopped eating meat and was wondering if I was getting enough protein.
lacquer lacquer 10 years
yeah, I'm tired of people thinking that the only complete protein is in meat. I eat yogurt, eggs, and skim milk on a regular basis and am okay!
EllaBella EllaBella 10 years
Thanks Fit! Lovekailua I know what you mean... I too get really annoyed at people saying that being a vegetarian is unhealthy. One of my colleagues looked at my lunch box once and she said that it was unhealthy because it was only carbs, I was having tofu with brown rice, lentil stew, and broccoli with almond flakes on top, that's to say a lot of proteins!!! I tried to explain her but she just denied it all saying stuff like "we human beings are made to eat meat blah blah blah" I was so annoyed!
Beauty Beauty 10 years
I'm a vegetarian—have been for 12 years now! I get a checkup every year and am fit as a fiddle. Thanks, Fit, for your good advice!
detroit-doll detroit-doll 10 years
All of those yummy choices make being a vegan so much fun
lovekailua lovekailua 10 years
great article! im so tired of people telling me i cant be healthy as a veg...there's so much info to show them but this is nice and concise!
homekeeper homekeeper 10 years
Great article!
malpal25 malpal25 10 years
I'm a vegetarian and I deffinatley make sure and get all of my protein! I've learned that from fainting.
allisonblue allisonblue 10 years
Fabulous information, Fit! Now I'm craving some rice & beans with some good spices. :) I'm a veggie, like JBlondie ... going on over four years now! I have a chronic illness that can cause anemia, so I also take an iron supplement with my multivitamin and my flax seed oil. I eat a bit of Stonyfield yogurt every day, and it's smooooth sailing!
ShedItandGetIt ShedItandGetIt 10 years
thanks for this!!!
JBlondie JBlondie 10 years
Thanks Fit! I have been vegetarian for 8 years and this was some good info!!!
mollipop mollipop 10 years
*bows down* Fit, you are awesome! Thanks for the enlightening info :-).
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