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Protein Question
April 30th, 2006

I have tried going veg once, but I quit since I learned the dangers of not
having enough protein in my body.I believe that animals should not be harmed just so we can eat them. Is their any way that I could get a pill or something to take so I can get enough protein in my body?If so, where can I get it? Then there is another problem.I can't swallow pills unless their about 1 centimeter big or less!!!HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!I don't want to harm animals any longer!


Thank you for your question. I am happy to see your interest in saving animal lives and inquiring about vegan sources of protein. I often hear people talk about the “dangers” of not getting enough protein, but I can’t think of anyone I know with a protein deficiency. I can think of thousands of people I’ve seen on TV and in everyday life, who eat too much protein, especially animal protein. So I often question the “danger” factor when the ratio of people in modern society who eat too much protein is probably 10,000 to 1 compared to those who lack sufficient protein. I’ve even said a million to one as the ratio in some cases because that may even be more accurate.

I have been vegan for 10 years, bodybuilding for 5 years and have been running a company called Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness for 4 years, so I know a few things about protein. As a bodybuilder, my protein intake will be higher than most people, including most meat-eaters, so don’t be intimidated when you see the amounts of protein I eat listed. This is to display how easy it is to get protein on a meat-free diet, and as a bodybuilder, it represents what I eat.

Vegans take in all required vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose. We eat a wide variety of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other plant-based whole foods providing the healthiest foods for our bodies.

As a vegan bodybuilder, I enjoy typical bodybuilding foods such as oats, rice, broccoli, yams, protein powders and bars, providing energy and strength for exercise and the heavy lifting my sport requires. I take a few supplements to enhance my athletic performance but I don’t believe they are necessary to consume and compete as an elite athlete. They can help give you an extra competitive edge and can aid in muscle recovery and energy output. The few supplements I use for performance include: multivitamin, meal replacement powders, L-glutamine for muscle recovery, and hemp-based protein powders. Vitamin B-12 and essential fatty acids are included in a hemp-based meal replacement I take. It is important to remember these supplements are not necessary, but in most cases they will boost performance and recovery from exercise, achieving an overall greater level of fitness and health. Vitamin B-12 and multivitamin are the two supplements you will want to take. They are a good recommendation for anyone.

Many people are scared to adopt a vegan diet because they think they will lack protein, but protein is easy to find and little is required for maintaining health. A standard is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight for athletes and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight for bodybuilders and other athletes interested in bulking up and adding mass. Eating consistently throughout the day makes it easy to consume that amount of protein if a variety of foods are consumed. “How” should not be the issue, but “where,” is a valid question. In an animal protein based society, we grow up believing the only sources of protein are from animals. As a vegan athlete I outline meal programs that are protein-rich and plant derived to show exactly “where” and “how” vegans get their protein. I pay special attention to protein and my main protein sources come from hemp, soy, tempeh, nuts, beans, lentils, seeds and a variety of powders and bars including complete meal replacements, adding up to 200-300 grams per day. Tofu, a soy product, typically has 10-20 grams of protein per serving. Soy also has a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 1.0, which is the highest protein rating for a food to have, and it scores higher than beef protein. Hemp is one of the best sources of protein, period. It is alkalizing, packed full of nutrients, and is grown from the most sustainable methods, making it arguably the best resource. Spirulina is another vegan source that is one of the most potent of all protein sources. We often hear about protein combinations to make a complete protein. This is an accumulation of essential amino acids. Combining sources such as hemp, rice and pea provide a powerful amino acid profile for enhanced biomechanical efficiency. Taking in large quantities of protein can be taxing on the liver and kidneys so it is important to drink a lot of water when you’re on a high protein diet. Drinking water helps your body’s organs process large amounts of protein. In addition to the high protein foods, I also eat a significant amount of fruits, green vegetables, and eat raw and organic foods whenever possible. Raw sources of protein can be found in nuts, seeds, seaweed, broccoli, spinach, kale, and other veggies and are some of the most efficient and most beneficial sources of protein available on the planet.

The bulk of my diet consists of fruits in the morning; protein sources such as nuts, protein drinks and bars for snacks; green vegetables, beans, tofu and other protein and calorie-rich foods for lunch, and a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and grains for dinner. A typical meal for dinner may include a lentil soup with chopped of veggies, steamed or raw broccoli, tofu, and brown rice. Potatoes, tempeh, beans, and nuts are also staples of my diet and are often consumed around dinnertime. I typically just drink water before and after meals but for dinner I may include soymilk, almond milk, or natural fruit juice.

I suggest eating a lot of the foods I’ve mentioned and checking out lists of foods with their protein content on www.veganbodybuilding.com. There isn’t a magic pill you need to use, just eat a variety of foods every few hours and you should keep your body well nourished and supplied with everything it needs to thrive.

Thank you again for taking interest in saving animal lives and in the sustainability of our planet. If anyone ever asks you about “How do you get your protein?” feel free to send them my way.

All the best!

Robert Cheeke