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You don’t eat meat? Then where do you get your protein?

Robyn Openshaw - Oct 08, 2008 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I know, I’ve blogged about this more than any other subject.   But I’m going to say a few more things about it today, just in a slightly different way, because of that old statistic that people have to hear something 11 times before they believe it.   And because that’s the question we plant eaters get most often, “But where do you get your PROTEIN?”


The World Health Organization says humans need 5 percent of daily calories to be protein.   The USDA says 6.5 percent.   On average, here’s what plant foods contain:


Fruits                                                                                                   5 percent

Vegs                                                                                                 20-50 percent

Sprouts, nuts, beans, grains, seeds:             10-25 percent


So you get plenty of protein from plants.   When you eat these proteins raw, they’re undamaged by heat and therefore more usable by your body, too.   Greens are highest in protein of the vegetables, so they are ideal for building and repair in the body.   We have a protein excess in the Western diet, not a protein deficiency.


Amino acids are protein’s building blocks.   Animal flesh combines those amino acids in a highly structured way–that’s all it means when people talk about “quality” proteins.   On the other hand, vegetable proteins are comprised of free-floating amino acids.   The first 8 amino acids are called “essential” because we have to acquire them from food.   The last 14 are built from the first 8.   Vegetable proteins, in free form, are easier to digest, give you more energy, and contribute to beauty and feeling well!


Some say, “But I feel better when I get much more protein.”   Years ago, I felt the same way–I noticed I had more energy eating chicken and fish.   Then I recognized truth when a book I was reading said that many animal protein eaters experience weakness/fatigue when they go off animal protein because of the inevitable cleansing that results.   So they attribute the difference in the way they feel to “needing” meat rather than feeling poorly when they cleanse as an adjustment to ending an addiction.   (These opinions are then further supported by diet-plan promoters who advocate for unnatural amounts of protein, as well as scientifically unsupported “blood type” and “metabolic type” authors.)


I put the idea that my “feeling better” was related to cleansing, not need, to the test.   I can honestly say I have more energy now than ever before.   It’s not true what people say, that you’re just going to feel worse in your 40’s than you did in your 20’s!   I feel MUCH better at 41 than I did in my 20’s!   I just had to go off chicken and fish for LONG ENOUGH.   I plan to never go back to eating those foods  full of antibiotics, steroids, foodborne bacteria, and all kinds of pathogens.

Posted in: Whole Food

8 thoughts on “You don’t eat meat? Then where do you get your protein?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My neighbor just told my hubs today that he recently read an article that vegans will occasionally eat a steak to get protein. How absurd is that! Like a steak every now and then will do the trick? Come on!!! Thanks for posting about protein again because goofy stuff to the contrary pops up all over.

  2. Anonymous says:

    i’m a newbie around here (trying to catch up on months of blogging info)–but wanted to say that this is SO true!!! I was diagnosed as severely hypoglycemic a couple years ago…I NEEDED animal protein to get the shakes away. I read a book that suggested this idea and I dramatically feel better any longer. changed my eating habits and became a lot more healthy—-it was HARD to do at first but as I mostly cut out meats—(slowly)–those “withdrawals” went away and I didn’t need “animal” protein to feel better. and today I do not have any hypoglycemia symptoms (I’m sure the way I’ve been eating better has to do with it too!)

    thanks Robyn- can’t wait for your book.

  3. Anonymous says:

    sorry omit the “feel better any longer” in the middle of my post–it just appeared.

    I dramatically changed my eating habits.

  4. I was just explaining this to my husband last night. He told me that he had a salad for lunch yesterday and I asked him what he had on it. He said a bunch of things- and then he said ham and bacon bits are usually on his salad. I told him about how those pig meats are really hard for your body to digest. He said he didn’t know how else to get his protein. I told him that fruits and veggies have protein and it is a higher quality! In some cases it is actually denser in protein than meat is. He was kind of surprised by this, maybe it will affect his next salad bar selections. We shall see!

    Oh, and Lala- I’m hypoglycemic too! Except that now that I’ve been doing this diet I have noticed my symptoms disappear! The more I adhere to the program, the better I feel. I can go a lot longer without needing food or a snack to get me through the day. I think I might be able to fast soon, which I haven’t been able to do in so long!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I have been checking out the site for about a week now. I am very interested in the 12 steps but have been hesitant to take it on. My son is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and now we think coconut but might be growing out of the egg allergy. My concern is not being able to eat the nuts/coconut. Will I be able to modify/substitute the recipes enough to not loose all the good proteins and omegas that come from that source??

    Thanks for your help. Will your 12 steps be coming out in book form or is it better to just do the online subscription?


  6. http:// says:

    12 Steps will eventually be in book form but isn’t yet (I don’t have a firm date). The online subscription now includes EVERYTHING we’ve done to date, so 10 chapters plus the intro. That includes all the recipe collections on this site (part of the chapters) . . . except for the brand-new 100 lunch ideas collection . . . and MUCH more.

    Some recipes do feature coconut and tree nuts, though most don’t. On a rare occasion, a recipe calls for an organic, free range egg, but you can substitute 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed + 2 Tbsp. water. Peanuts are in a handful of the approx. 250 recipes.

    Your son may very well outgrow allergies. The fastest way to do that is to eat whole foods (and no processed, chemical-added foods). I had a one-year old who was allergic to everything and now is allergic to nothing.


  7. Another fantastic post. Thanks.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Robyn,

    Much of my motivation for finding a better diet is because I strongly believe that what we eat affects how we feel (my son’s allergies and asthma along with my anxiety and so much more). I am so tired of doctors handing us prescriptions and not talking about diet alternatives (also not crazy about supplements, why can’t we get what we need from our diet).

    I did just try to subscribe to/buy the 12 steps but seemed to have trouble. I will try again later.


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