Plant-powered protein

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One of the common myths about a vegetarian diet is that it’s hard to get enough protein. But nothing could be further from the truth! The fact is, it’s quite easy to get enough protein in a plant-based diet, with the added bonus that it comes with a healthy dose of dietary fibre.

When we mention protein most people think of meat but protein is also found in a wide range of plant foods, which are a much healthier package than their animal counterparts. In the past it was also believed that specific plant foods needed to be combined at meals for their protein to be useful. We now know that if a wide range of plant foods is consumed across the day, the body is quite capable of efficiently combining and using the protein they contain.

More than a century ago, it was believed that we all needed at least 120g of protein daily. The truth is we need much less than this and if enough calories are eaten as part of a varied plant-based diet, enough protein will also be consumed.

Currently, the World Health Organisation recommends a healthy adult aims for 0.83g of protein per 1 kg of body weight. For an 80kg man that’s about 66g of protein and for a 65kg woman that’s about 54g a day.

For athletes and those recovering from injury or illness, protein requirements can be increased and if this is you, it’s important to discuss this with your health professional. But what doesn’t change is the ability of plant foods to provide all the protein needed as a part of a healthy, balanced diet.

What does 65g of protein look like?

Breakfast

  • Porridge (½ cup rolled oats, 1 cup fat-free soy milk) = 16g
  • 2 teaspoons flaxseed = 1g
  • Fruit = 1g
  • Total = 18g

Lunch

  • Vegetable stir-fry with tofu = 14g
  • Brown rice (1 cup) = 6g
  • Orange = 1g
  • Total = 21g

Snack

  • Fruit = 1g

Dinner

  • Potato and leek soup = 6g
  • Fat-free soy milk (1 cup) = 8g
  • Whole wheat bread (2 slices) = 5g
  • Cashew nuts (small handful) = 6g
  • Total = 25g

Daily Total: 65g

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