(Gasp)But where do you get your protein?!

Have you ever told anyone that you’re vegetarian and they open their eyes in shock saying, ” but where do you get your protein?!”

Or likewise do you wonder where vegetarians and vegans get their protein?

I get this question a lot, actually just yesterday I was in somewhat of a debate with my friends, trying to explain that I do in fact get enough protein.

What is protein anyway? 

Protein is a macronutrient- aka- a substance that is required in relatively large amounts by organisms- aka- our body needs  large amounts of this for growth and development. The building blocks of protein are called amino acids. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day.1

So what does this have to do with anything?

Dr. T Colin Campbell explains how amino acids work in his book The China Study. Amino acids are represented as a string of beads in one colour,  but what if someone replaces it with another set of beads, but in a different colour? In order to be able to use the new set of beads we have to tear the whole string apart, then restring them in a way that our bodies can use them.2

The bottom line– Amino acid chains need to be broken down so our bodies can reconstruct them in a way that will be beneficial to us. We cannot use complex complex amino acids without first rebuilding them.

So what does this mean now?

Even though all animals and plants have the same basic amino acids, the pattern is unique to each organism. We can’t just eat beef or pork then magically absorb protein. The amino acids must be restrung in an order that is applicable to humans.

Food for thought? or Food for Protein…?

How do cows, a big source of  proteins in steaks and burgers build muscle? Where do they get their protein? The cow builds great amounts of amino acids from the grass and greenery it eats!

Kimberly Synder, Certified Nutritionist emphasizes that there are a wealth of essential amino acids that are found in fruits, vegetables, sprouts, seeds, and nuts. The key is having a wide variety of foods in your diet.3

So I’ll conclude with saying…

  • Although animal foods contain large amounts of protein, they need to be broken down into a simpler form that our bodies can use.
  • You can get adequate amounts of protein from  basic plant based foods. Make sure, however that you eat a variety of these foods and get the calories you need! The problem is that people think that just because they are ‘vegans’ or ‘vegetarians’ that it means they are healthy.  Don’t get it twisted, now.
  • Gorillas, hippos, rhinos and wild horses are vegetarians…just saying.3

There is a lot more to be said on protein, but this was just a little scratch to sooth an itch. Keep posted for more to come.




1. Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). 2005, National Academies Press: Washington, DC.

2. Dr.T. Colin and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health (Dallas,TX: Benebella Books, 2006),30

3.Kimberly Snyder (2011). The Beauty Detox Solution: Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You’ve Always Wanted, Ontarion, Canada: Harlequin.

Leave a Reply