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But Where Does Your Protein Come From?

June 8, 2011

I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian. So I eat dairy products and eggs. No animals or fish, although many animal products are on my “ok” list. There are different lines to draw and I consider myself fairly flexible for a vegetarian. If someone cooks me something with chicken broth or fish sauce I’m not going to refuse their food, I just don’t use these ingredients at home. I’ll pick pepperoni off of pizza if I have to. If there is meat that I can’t seperate out easily then I’ll pass.

This month marks my 9-year anniversary since becoming a vegetarian. It didn’t start as an ethical journey. I was just never a fan of meat or fish. I was a picky-eater. When I was 19 I decided it would be easier to be vegetarian. Because people would have to accommodate me, right? It would be less rude than pushing half-eaten food around my plate. Fast forward to adulthood and I now realize my vegetarianism is a total pain in the ass for others. But then, then it all made sense. I have no regrets though.

But I’m surprised that almost a decade since becoming a vegetarian I’m still harassed about my decision in various forms. It’s been 9 years people. My hair didn’t fall out. I’m not anemic. It’s all good. Some people are just curious with their questions. Some people want to beat it over the head til it dies. After months of harassment I once ate a shrimp as a negotiation to get my then-boyfriend’s parents to drop the issue. It worked. For the most part. Probably because the taste of the shrimp didn’t morph me into some meat-eating machine as dictated in their evil plan. Okay it wasn’t that bad.

The most popular question: So where does your protein come from? Or iron? or B12?

I’ll leave the long-winded answers for the no-meat-athlete but here is the short version – from plants. Lots of different plants.

If we believe the Americans, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Or you can check out this handy-dandy DRI calculator. This equates to roughly 10-15 percent of my (or your) total calories. Given my stats the following is what is recommended for me:

Image Credit: Interactive DRI

Now take a look at a complete random day according to Body Media FIT. Remember here that I am purposely keeping a calorie deficit at this time. So during maintenance (or overtake heheh) times I’m eating more in general. My percentage of calories from fat on the pie chart might seem high but they are actually from things like tofu, almonds, and goat cheese. Not BBQ chips. And according to the DRI, my number of grams of fat is actually low. Oddly enough so is my carbs. My fibre is kicking it. And hey look! My protein intake is good. My B12 is awesome and I’m only a mg away from meeting the daily recommended amount of iron. Fancy that.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2011 12:55 pm

    I think people overestimate how much protein they actually need (perhaps so they can eat huge quantities of meat without feeling guilt?). I’ve dabbled in going vegetarian but I have never taken the plunge. Neither myself nor my husband eat very much meat. He’s an avid weightlifter who hasn’t had any trouble getting results without meat. We’re both aware of food labels though and it is interesting that you can find protein sometimes where you least expect it.

  2. June 16, 2011 6:18 am

    ..If youre considering becoming vegetarian here are some things to consider..As a prospective vegetarian you probably question whether or not it really matters if you stop eating meat. You might wonder how much of a difference one additional vegetarian can make..And while it might be true that one vegetarian wont make huge statistical difference in a world of meat-eaters it is also true that one more vegetarian probably isnt going to turn the tide in the movement.

    • June 18, 2011 12:32 pm

      I suppose. I am also not a vegetarian to make the world a better place. I like plants.

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