For those of us enjoying a predominantly plant-based diet, this question is bound to come up at some point, whether it be from a concerned family member, or from a curious friend.
And while eggs, goat cheese, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all great sources of protein to supplement your diet, it’s easy to forget that plants are actually a great source of protein themselves! Did you know that 51% of the calories in spinach are from protein? Per calorie, that’s more than a steak!
In fact, research has shown that all plants contain protein–> at least 14% of the total calories of every plant are protein. [source]
Using Fitday.com as my nutritional calculator, I decided to compare a typical American breakfast of eggs and toast, to my favorite morning green juice.
As you can see above, the breakfast of eggs and toast provides just slightly more protein than the breakfast of green juice, but the green juice provides significantly more nutrition overall. In just one green drink, not only have you already consumed 37% of your protein for the day, you’ve also covered 66% of your daily calcium requirements, 49% of your iron needs, and over 100% of your Vitamins A, C and B-6!
Talk about protein, with an added punch!
Here’s another useful graphic, comparing the nutrition of a few of my favorite green veggies to that of a sirloin steak:
Granted, these compare 100-calorie portions of veggies to a 100-calorie portion of steak… so volume-wise, you’d have to eat a lot more leafy greens in comparison to a few bites of steak. Since I’m all about eating large portions, I don’t mind this one bit! However, it’s probably a good reason to add some density to your veggies, by topping them with nutrient-rich nuts, seeds, or some shredded raw goat cheese!
And, in case you’re worried about consuming “complete” proteins, such as those found in animal products, there’s no need.
Nutritional research has discovered that plant-based protein from a wide variety of sources adequately supplies all the essential amino acids required for a healthy body. It is not necessary to consume a “complete” protein at every meal. The body’s innate intelligence utilizes the protein from multiple meals to provide the necessary building blocks. [source]
Our bodies are brilliant, and will collect all the amino acids we need to build complete proteins–> regardless of whether we consume them all in one meal, or over several.
Even more reason to eat your veggies!
Reader Feedback: Do you worry about getting enough protein? What are your favorite sources?