The World Health Organisation, on their latest report about protein published in 2007, considers to be safe for the global population, a level of protein intake of 0,8 grams per kilo of body weight, when this body weight is within the acceptable range (1). This value corresponds approximately to 10% of the daily caloric needs.
So, do vegans get enough protein? The largest study in history that compared the nutrient profiles of around 30,000 non-vegetarians, 20,000 vegetarians, and 5,000 vegans, flexitarians, and pescatarians showed very similar protein daily intakes in all groups (between 70-75g) (2). This means that everyone, including vegans had much more protein than they needed every day, considering the WHO safety requirements. In fact, any combination of plant based foods provide between 30 to 40g (12-16%) of protein for each 1000 calories consumed, well beyond the daily requirements. This includes all the essential amino acids (3).
When it comes to protein content in foods, consider the following: greens contain around 50% protein, legumes about 20%, whole grains and nuts between 8% and 15%. The muscular gorillas eat mainly fruits and leaves, some stems, seeds and a few insects (mostly along with the other foods, as they don’t clean them before eating). All that muscle without having even tasted a piece of chicken.
Protein deficiency is practically impossible, unless there is a severe caloric restriction in the diet. Do you really know anyone with protein deficiency? If it only was for protein needs, we could live basically on sweet potato, as we’ll see on the next post.