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Plants ARE High Protein Foods

March 3, 2011

“You’re a vegetarian – How do you get enough protein??”


“I’ve got to make sure a get enough protein in my diet.”


“I eat high protein foods three times a day so I can be strong.”

I’m sure you’ve heard people say these things pretty often. There is a lot of misinformation out there about proteins and plant foods. Many people think that to get enough protein, you must eat lots of meat and dairy all day long or you’ll die!

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to researchers, we only need 2.5% to 10% of our caloric intake from protein (footnotes 1,2,3). The average American eats over 100 grams of protein a day, which is over 20% of caloric intake. This means that most Americans eat WHEY TOO MUCH protein.

While many Americans are pounding whey protein smoothies and high-protein mega snack bars and several pounds of meat and milk a day, they are actually doing more harm to their bodies than good.

“Excessive animal protein intake has been linked to mineral loss leading to some forms of cancer, and osteoporosis, kidney stones, arthritis, diabetes, cataracts, arteriosclerosis, an irritated immune system and high cholesterol which is converted by the liver into fat. Experts are recommending that Americans reduce protein intake by about 15 percent and eat less animal proteins and more protein from plant sources.” – Side Effects Associated with Too Much Protein

Eat more protein from plant sources?? But plants don’t have protein… Do they?

Let’s take a look at this list of high protein foods and see if plants are high protein foods or not.

List of High Protein Foods

As you can see, almonds, oats, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, and tofu have just about as much protein if not more than most meats! Not only that, but since researchers are telling Americans to eat less animal protein and more plant protein, these high protein plant foods are healthier sources of protein!

So skip the meat and dairy and have a good meal of plant protein today. Your body will thank you for it.

And stop stressing about getting enough protein in your diet – if you’re anything like the average American, you’re eating 2 to 8 times more protein than you need anyway!

1 Diet for a New America, John Robbins, 1987, p. 172, citing the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2 Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition (PDF), World Health Organization (2002), p. 126. Recommendations are an “average requirement” of 0.66 g of protein per kg of ideal body weight, and a “safe level” of 0.86 g/kg. Percentages of protein vs. total calories were calculated by applying these figures for Estimated Energy Requirements as per the Dietary Reference Intakes, for a 5’5″ woman and a 5’11” man, each 30 years old and 24.99 BMI, at various activity levels.
3 Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Drug Administration. (The recommendations for protein are 56g/day for adult males and 46 g/day for adult females. The suggested caloric intake is 2301-3720 for a 5’11” man and 1816-2807 for a 5’5″ woman. At 4 calories of protein per gram, this works out to 8.0-12.3% protein for men and 6.6-10.1%)

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