Protein and the American vegetarian diet

The most commonly voiced concern regarding vegetarianism is that of protein. Many think it is difficult or impossible to obtain the protein needed from a meatless diet. On the contrary, it is actually rather simple to meet the FDA's recommended allowance of protein. In fact, some carnivores consume too much protein in their diets, which in extreme excess can lead to kidney problems and osteoporosis.


According to studies referenced by the American Dietetic Association, typical vegetarian diets "meet and exceed [FDA] requirements".


Males over 25 years of age require 63 grams, and females require 50 grams. Another way to determine the requisite amount is to calculate .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For instance, a 150-pound person is about 68 kilograms, X .8 = 54 grams of protein.

One debated issue is that of the essential amino acids. It had been commonly thought that one must ingest each of the eight essential amino acids, and protein "combining" be practiced in order to ensure these needs were met. An example of this is to eat beans and brown rice to produce a "complete protein". This theory has been recently debunked, and is no longer heeded many vegetarians. Instead, a variety of protein sources should be consumed, as a varied diet will maximize the body's ability to obtain not only adequate protein, but vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as well.


Here is a list of foods high in protein (all protein counts from


1.      Spirulina, ½ ounce: 8 grams

2.      Soybeans, ½ cup cooked: 16 grams

3.      Chickpeas, ½ cup cooked: 8 grams

4.      Brown Rice, 1 cup, cooked: 5 grams

5.      Milk, 1%, 1 cup: 8 grams

6.      Oikos Yogurt, Plain, 5.3 oz.: 15 grams

7.      Cottage Cheese, 1%, ½ cup: 14 grams

8.      Tempeh, ½ cup: 16 grams

9.      Tofu, ½ cup: 10 grams

10.  Lentils, ½ cup, cooked: 9 grams

11.  Black or kidney beans, ½ cup, cooked: 8 grams

12.  Quinoa, 1 cup cooked: 8 grams

13.  Peas, ½ cup, canned: 4 grams

14.  Almonds, ¼ cup: 8 grams

15.  Bulgur, 1 cup, cooked: 6 grams

16.  Whole Wheat Bread, 1 slice: 4 grams

17.  Soy milk, 1 cup (Silk): 6 grams

18.  Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup: 6 grams

19.  Parmesan, 1 Tablespoon: 2 grams

20.  Boca Burger, original vegan: 18 grams

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