Getting Enough Protein

A few things before we jump into today’s hot topic:
1. Kathleen asked me yesterday why I haven’t written about my ‘kickball skillz’ after she noticed on my weekly menu that I had kickball practice and a kickball game this week. Is anyone else out there on a Go Kickball team? I’ve played on one before, and I’m horrible. Any helpful tips would be greatly appreciated :)
2. My mother wanted me to let you all know that she does not boil the potatoes for Vichyssoise. She bakes them. I just wanted to pass that note onto you. :)

And finally, let’s get into today’s topic: PROTEIN.

Any vegetarian will tell you that the number one question people ask when you tell them that you don’t eat meat is “How do you get enough protein.” In fact, my friend Georgia asked me last week how I make sure to get my recommended daily protein (even though I still eat meat every few weeks), and I preceded to write her a very long email explaining my thoughts on the topic. Because so many of you might have the same question, I thought I’d elaborate. First of all, I would check out these blogposts by Madison of Espresso & Cream (here, here, and here) and Emily of Daily Garnish (here and here). They are both seasoned vegetarians who discuss the topic and who I referenced when I first started toying with the idea of cutting back on meat.

I also want to point out that I do not take a very scientific approach to my protein intake. My general strategy is to cram as many fruits and vegetables into my day, but I don’t keep track of my protein intake on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a more thorough evaluation of this topic, I would suggest looking to a medical professional. I am not a doctor.

The first thing that you have to determine when even looking at this question is how much protein you need on a daily basis. You might actually be surprised to learn that it isn’t as much as you think you need. By this calculator, I need between 60-67 grams per day. By this guys’ calculations, I only need 49.2 grams per day.

Now, let’s look at what I eat on a typical day.

Breakfast:
1 cup 0% Fage greek yogurt — 23 grams
1 tablespoon honey
handful of granola (Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax) — about 3 grams
cup of coffee (2 T of half and half is 1 gram)
Lunch:
1 frozen TJ’s veggie burrito – 9 grams
leftover vegetables (i.e. 1 cup broccoli is 2.5 grams)
TJ’s mini brie bite with crackers – 4 grams
Snack:
handful of almonds (about 1/4 cup) — 7 grams
Dinner:
Green salad
1 cup frozen lima beans — 12 grams
lemon pasta – 8 grams
Dessert:
1 cup of ice cream — 6 grams
Now, that’s an average day, and I got 75.5 grams of protein, which is more than I need. This is a pretty typical day, although there are some days when I probably eat even more protein-dense foods, and also days when I eat less. The point is, without even trying, I’m getting plenty of protein on a daily basis.

If you’ve thought about cutting back on your meat intake and you’re concerned about getting enough protein, I would start by doing two things. First, start logging your protein intake and see how much you’re currently getting compared to how much you need. Then, I would start preparing between 2-3 meatless meals a week and decide if it’s fun, if you enjoy it, and if you feel satisfied. If you find that you enjoy cooking vegetarian and feel better, cut back to only preparing meatless meals and only eating meat every other time you eat out. I always thought that I didn’t like the vegetarian options at restaurants, but once I started ordering them, I’ve really enjoyed them. But, if you’d prefer to cook meat yourself and eat vegetarian out at restaurants, then go that route. Just do whatever feels more comfortable for you. Listen to your cravings. I listen to mine, they just tell me to eat more vegetables!

6 responses

  1. Many people have that misconception about vegetarianism or the protein myth as I’ve heard it called. Most meat eaters get way more protein than they need. Having been a veghead for most of my life I don’t worry about it and I enjoy my protein from a variety of tasty and non-cruel sources. Good luck with your foray into vegetarianism or part time meatless eating! I enjoy your blog, check mine out for some veggie recipes!

    • Thanks, Betronica! I can’t believe you’ve been a vegetarian your whole life – that’s fantastic. It’s been so fantastic for me so far, so its great to hear that it can really be a lifelong habit!

    • I can definitely understand that! My dad seems very, very skeptical, but The Roommate has actually really enjoyed the fact that our kitchen has been meatless the last few months. Not sure how long it’ll last, but for now he doesn’t seem to miss it!

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