Confusion about good sources of proteins - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-09-2013, 02:29 AM
 
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Hello everyone,

 

I've been a vegetarian for more than two years (and I guess I will be for many years more) ; I started paying attention to what contains proteins and what does not. And now I'm really confused.

 

*it seems the vegetarian food I buy at my supermarket (such as veggie steaks or veggie chickens, etc) contains usually less than 10gr of protein per 100gr (sometimes even only a few gr per 100). I'm surprised, I thought these products were specifically designed to contain as much proteins as meat (around 20gr/100gr)!? They seem to mainly contain fat.

 

*Wikipedia says milk is a good source of proteins. I don't get that. On every bottle of milk I've looked it says roughly 3.5gr/100gr. Almost ALL products in the supermarket contain more than this! For instance a simple chocolate bar contains the double, cheese contains about 20gr (or more)/100gr, etc. The only products that are worst than milk seems to be fruits and vegetables!

 

*seeds (pistachio for instance) seems to contain more than 20gr/100gr, as well as many cheeses. Are those the ultimate source of proteins for a vegetarian? Should I ditch milk?

 

 

Many thanks for your replies!

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#2 Old 05-09-2013, 06:17 AM
 
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Honestly this isn't something I worry about at all. Unless I'm only eating fruit or junk food or I'm not getting enough calories, I'm going to get enough protein.

 

The foods that have the most protein tend to be beans which I like a lot because they also have a lot of fiber. If you're looking to increase the amount of protein you're getting, you could also use grains that are higher in protein such as quinoa. Spirulina has a lot of protein in it and you can easily add it to shakes. You would need to include a lot of it though and I think it's on the pricey side.

 

As for ditching milk... it's really up to you. I personally don't find it necessary because there's a large number of foods that will give me anything milk can, but with less calories and saturated fat.

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#3 Old 05-09-2013, 07:30 AM
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http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php

 

Hi Nathan!

 

Human bodies only need 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of desired body weight, so for me I need 52.2 grams of protein a day, meaning that every 10.44 grams of protein is 20% of my daily needs.

 

Amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and soya beans are all complete proteins, i.e. they have a balance of all essential amino acids (what protein is made of):

 

  • 1 cup of amaranth: 26.17g raw, 9.35g cooked
  • 1 cup of buckwheat: 22.52g raw, 5.68g cooked
  • 1 cup of quinoa: 24g raw, 8.14g cooked
  • 1 cup of soya beans: 28.62g cooked

 

If I ate all of these raw in one day, I'd have 101.31 grams of protein, 49.11 more grams of protein than I'd need! Too much protein can be damaging to the kidneys and bones, this is to show you how easy it is to get what you need and more.

 

It's really easy to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet, as you can see! Mock-meats tends to be a substitute for people who like the taste of them but don't want to eat animals- I would rely on mainly wholefoods for a healthy, nutritious diet!


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#4 Old 05-09-2013, 09:45 AM
 
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Thank you for the replies ;

 

But am I right when I say that milk seems to be a rather poor source of proteins? Why is the opposite written on Wikipedia?

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#5 Old 05-09-2013, 10:08 AM
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Thank you for the replies ;

 

But am I right when I say that milk seems to be a rather poor source of proteins? Why is the opposite written on Wikipedia?

Milk is a complete protein because it contains all five essential amino acids, but it has a rather low protein content in total. You'd have to drink 55 fluid ounces (around one and a half litres or seven and seven eigths of a cup) of cow's milk daily to get enough protein! In comparison, you'd have to eat two and a half cups of buckwheat to get enough protein.

 

You may still drink milk, but it can get expensive to rely on it.


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#6 Old 05-09-2013, 11:18 AM
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Milk is a complete protein because it contains all five essential amino acids

All edible protein sources have all essential amino acids. The difference is only in the relative proportions of those amino acids in any given protein.

As for being 'complete' protein (as in equivalent to eating human flesh, which is the basis for the 'completeness' scale) milk is the protein 'quality' equivalent to oatmeal, not meat. They are both relatively short on lysine by roughly the same amount when in comparison to eating human flesh. [1] [2]

One bowl of my oatmeal (made with 0.5 cups of oats) has the same amount of protein, and the same protein 'completeness', as 1.5 cups of milk... and I toss in a small bit of greens to expand its range of vitamins.

The awesomeness of milk is really an artifact of marketing rather than any scientifically demonstrable nutritional factor.

Only 1/3 of the human race is even capable of drinking milk and just a couple generations ago the large majority of the human race got the large majority of their protein from grains, beans, and seeds.

If your not feeling chronically weak and do not have significant trouble maintaining muscle mass just ignore numbers and marketing and be confident your doing ok on protein, because muscle is whats first effected by any insufficiency.

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#7 Old 05-09-2013, 12:59 PM
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All edible protein sources have all essential amino acids. The difference is only in the relative proportions of those amino acids in any given protein.

Whoops, that was what I meant!

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#8 Old 05-09-2013, 01:21 PM
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All whole foods have protein, so I'm not sure what you're finding that doesn't have it unless you're eating packaged/processed foods.  Even bananas have amino acids (and if you eat them uncooked, you won't denature the aminos).

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#9 Old 05-09-2013, 01:44 PM
 
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Pretty much all of society has been duped into thinking milk is some magical drink. It's not it's actually not very good for the human body, drink it if you think it tastes nice (and as long as you know what goes on within the dairy industry) but don't believe that you need it or its even good for you.
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#10 Old 05-09-2013, 01:50 PM
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Pennys right. We're so used to just calling certain foods "protein" that it can forgotten that protein is in most everything you eat.

You don't want to forget how much vegetable protein you get because you don't think of broccoli having protein. It all adds up, and if you eat a variety of foods, you get your complete protein.
Plants don't contain every single amino, but the human body formulates what plants miss by the others. That's another reason humans do well as veg'ns.

Do you eat beans, legumes, tofu, nuts seeds whole grains?


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#11 Old 05-09-2013, 07:22 PM
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Thank you for the replies ;

 

But am I right when I say that milk seems to be a rather poor source of proteins? Why is the opposite written on Wikipedia?


I think you'll find your answer in the question....You were looking on Wikipedia.

If you're really concerned about protein (and as Auxin says, it's causing problems for you) then you can always try protein shakes. They're usually not as high in fat as dairy products, from what I've seen, and they're a nice top up for your day.

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#12 Old 05-10-2013, 07:57 AM
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Here is a comprehensive article on protein from plant sources: http://veganhealth.org/articles/protein

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#13 Old 05-10-2013, 12:06 PM
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The amount of protein per 100 grams isn't an important figure, you want to know the protein in relation to the caloric value of the food. Why? Because fat is much more calorie dense than protein per gram. A food that is 20 grams protein and 80 grams fat would be 800 calories. On the other hand a food that is 20 grams protein, 80 grams carbohydrate would be 400 calories. But your observation about Milk is right, its not particularly high in protein. Milk is mostly fat and sugar (many people don't realize that milk is high in sugar!). Whole milk is around 18% protein, lower than many vegetables,legumes, etc.

Regardless, a lot of what you hear about protein from vegetarians/vegans is wrong. If someone tells you to not worry about protein, stop listening. Though getting enough protein on a vegetarian or vegan diet is relatively easy, it doesn't come automatically and its not always intuitive to people that weren't raised around vegetarian/vegan diets.

Seeds and nuts are actually not a particularly good source of protein because they are so high in fat, for example pistachios are only 13% protein. Most nuts and seeds range from 8~15% protein. So no, nuts and seeds aren't the "ultimate vegetarian protein source", just mediocre. Some good sources of protein for vegetarians are:

- Cheese (20~40% protein)
- Eggs (35% protein)
- Unsweetened soy milk ( 35% protein)
- Lentils and beans (20~30% protein)
- Tofu (40% protein)
- Seitan (90% protein).
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#14 Old 05-10-2013, 12:11 PM
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If your not feeling chronically weak and do not have significant trouble maintaining muscle mass just ignore numbers and marketing and be confident your doing ok on protein, because muscle is whats first effected by any insufficiency.
From my experience what is first effected is nails and hair, not muscle mass. Whether this is because its hard to notice small changes in your muscle mass or whether your body down regulates nail and hair production before it starts to break down your muscles....I don't know.
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#15 Old 05-10-2013, 01:28 PM
 
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Americans, for the most part, seem obsessed with protein consumption and, on average, get at least twice what they need.  I saw 0.9 grams per kg of body mass mentioned.  I've always seen 0.8 grams per kg of body mass but either is close enough for me for a daily protein requirement.

 

I'm at about 100 kg (220#) and should shoot for about 80 grams of protein a day but I don't even worry about it.  I get lots of greens, beans, and a few seeds/nuts every day for my protein.

 

I've read that some doctors think over 100 grams of protein per day is a 'dangerously high amount'.

 

One of the guys here at work basically has a protein milkshake for breakfast every morning that contains 200 grams of protein.  That's fine if you weigh 550 lbs and don't get any more protein the rest of the day. :)

 

100 calories of broccoli has significantly more protein than 100 calories of beef.  The broccoli also has a bunch of other nutrients that beef doesn't have.  Of course it takes about 3.5 cups of broccoli to get the 100 calories while it takes about 1 ounce of beef +/- to get 100 calories.  No one expects you to eat 3.5 cups of broccoli but you can eat a LOT of vegetables and get a LOT more nutrition instead of filling up by eating meat and putting fat on your body.
 

Eating meat just doesn't make any sense on so many levels.

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#16 Old 05-10-2013, 10:35 PM
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100 calories of broccoli has significantly more protein than 100 calories of beef. 
100 calories of broccoli has ~9 grams of protein, 100 calories of 80% ground beef has around 11 grams of protein. Leaner cuts will have considerably more protein. So, on average, broccoli has significantly less protein per 100 calories.

Americans are obsessed with protein, why so many people feel the need to eat "protein bars" is beyond me. But we aren't talking about the average American diet, instead veg*n diets and adequate protein is a concern in these groups.
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#17 Old 05-12-2013, 01:28 PM
 
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Americans, for the most part, seem obsessed with protein consumption and, on average, get at least twice what they need.  I saw 0.9 grams per kg of body mass mentioned.  I've always seen 0.8 grams per kg of body mass but either is close enough for me for a daily protein requirement.

Actually, that's wrong. RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per Kg of body weight and it probably meets 97% of the populations needs. It's even considered high by some. However, your protein needs depend on the level of physical activity and the stage of the life cycle. For example, TdF riders consume 3g/kgBm/day and aggressive body builders are pretty close.  Rule of thumb is that a sedentary adult needs about the RDA requirements, an endurance athlete needs about 1.2-1.4 g/kgBM/day and a strength athlete (which includes pretty much any sport where you are tied to your peak performance, e.g. long jump) need 1.8 to 2.4  g/kgBM/day. For instance, I am 5.10 and weigh 142-144 pounds, but as an active rock climber I consume up to 120 grams of protein per day depending on the stage of my training cycle. When I turned vegan about a year ago, I found maintaining my protein requirements pretty challenging.

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#18 Old 05-12-2013, 09:20 PM
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.  Rule of thumb is that a sedentary adult needs about the RDA requirements, an endurance athlete needs about 1.2-1.4 g/kgBM/day and a strength athlete (which includes pretty much any sport where you are tied to your peak performance, e.g. long jump) need 1.8 to 2.4  g/kgBM/day. For instance, I am 5.10 and weigh 142-144 pounds, but as an active rock climber I consume up to 120 grams of protein per day depending on the stage of my training cycle. When I turned vegan about a year ago, I found maintaining my protein requirements pretty challenging.
These are the "rules of thumb", but they really aren't based on much. For endurance athletes the increased protein is based more so on increased protein oxidation rather than tissue repair, its not clear whether a high carbohydrate vegan style diet would effect protein oxidation in these cases. The body will prefer to use carbohydrates over protein. There are numerous endurance athletes that eat under 1.2/1.4 g per kg so it would seem that in this case the body does adjust when carbohydrate intake is high.

If one is a serious athlete, it would make sense to get your nitrogen balance checked rather than using "rules of thumb".
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#19 Old 05-13-2013, 08:03 AM
 
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100 calories of broccoli has ~9 grams of protein, 100 calories of 80% ground beef has around 11 grams of protein. Leaner cuts will have considerably more protein. So, on average, broccoli has significantly less protein per 100 calories.

Americans are obsessed with protein, why so many people feel the need to eat "protein bars" is beyond me. But we aren't talking about the average American diet, instead veg*n diets and adequate protein is a concern in these groups.


I've seen13 grams and 11 grams for 100 calories of broccoli.  I've seen 6 grams for 100 calories of trimmed ribeye.  Depends upon the cut.  I think we agree on the main point of protein obsession.;

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#20 Old 05-13-2013, 08:14 AM
 
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Actually, that's wrong. RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per Kg of body weight and it probably meets 97% of the populations needs. It's even considered high by some. However, your protein needs depend on the level of physical activity and the stage of the life cycle. For example, TdF riders consume 3g/kgBm/day and aggressive body builders are pretty close.  Rule of thumb is that a sedentary adult needs about the RDA requirements, an endurance athlete needs about 1.2-1.4 g/kgBM/day and a strength athlete (which includes pretty much any sport where you are tied to your peak performance, e.g. long jump) need 1.8 to 2.4  g/kgBM/day. For instance, I am 5.10 and weigh 142-144 pounds, but as an active rock climber I consume up to 120 grams of protein per day depending on the stage of my training cycle. When I turned vegan about a year ago, I found maintaining my protein requirements pretty challenging.

Not sure what you're getting at.

 

Using the numbers I gave a 100kg person should get around 80 grams of protein but in the US on average they get about twice that.  That's pretty well documented.  You're not talking about 'average' when you bring in athletes but most athletes are even more extreme than they need to be or mis-define athlete.  I work around desk-jockeys that play in a sport one night a week and drink the high protein shakes I mentioned above.

 

I'm saying the average person in the US gets about twice the recommended amount.

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#21 Old 05-13-2013, 12:07 PM
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One reason I think hobby athletes drink protein shakes, etc is that they confuse the causal relationship, that is, serious athletes need more protein due to their very high level of physical activity. Where as the hobby athletes who aren't nearly as active think if they eat more protein, they'll perform better.....

Also, stating protein requirements by body weight leads to a lot of confusion as well. The recommendation is based on lean body mass, not total body mass, so a fat guy is going to over estimate his protein needs by using this formula. You can instead state protein recommendations as a percent (10~15%) of total calorie intake and this leads to a better estimate for most people, you also don't need to make special considerations for athletes. Serious athletes require a lot more calories when training, often over 4,000, and they will automatically get more protein the harder they train.

On a vegan diet its by no means hard to maintain 12% protein intake (that would be 120 grams if you were burning 4,000 calories), with that even hardcore athletes should get enough protein without the use of protein shakes, etc. If one has trouble obtaining sufficient protein on a vegan diet, they are doing something wrong.
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#22 Old 05-13-2013, 06:20 PM
 
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On a vegan diet its by no means hard to maintain 12% protein intake (that would be 120 grams if you were burning 4,000 calories), with that even hardcore athletes should get enough protein without the use of protein shakes, etc. If one has trouble obtaining sufficient protein on a vegan diet, they are doing something wrong.

Majority of protein intake for strength athletes (as well as athletes in high impact sports) goes to tissue repair (especially muscle) or new muscle generation. In this case, "completeness" is one of the key characteristics of the protein intake, you want to have a correct mix of amino-acids. That's where I found problems with my vegan diet; for example, I have discovered that my injuries are healing slower, skin/callouses peel faster and overall recovery after training sessions is slower.

 

Obviously, I am still in process of calibrating my diet to make it optimal given my level of activity and the training goals (in my case, harder free climbing in alpine/big-wall setting).

I do not recall my transition from an omnivore diet being as difficult as my recent transition from lacto/ovo vegetarian to mostly vegan (I still wear leather climbing shoes and my dogs eat meat products). However, numerous hard-climbing people have worked it all out - to name a few, Dean Potter, Steph Davis and Beth Rodden, so apparently it's possible.

 

PS. I am not a nutritionist by trade, so my understanding is mainly based on medschool physiology courses and and a short course in sports medicine.

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#23 Old 05-13-2013, 06:32 PM
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I definitely don't need isolated protein powders or any other dried or processed foods with my rigorous exercise regimen.  And I avoid legumes and grains as well. :)

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#24 Old 05-13-2013, 07:38 PM
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Majority of protein intake for strength athletes (as well as athletes in high impact sports) goes to tissue repair (especially muscle) or new muscle generation. In this case, "completeness" is one of the key characteristics of the protein intake, you want to have a correct mix of amino-acids.
The completeness of individual proteins doesn't matter much, just your overall protein consumption throughout the day. The vast majority of plant proteins have all 9 essential amino acids, what makes many of them "incomplete" is that they aren't in the correct proportion for human needs. Since plant proteins vary in their proportion of the 9 essential amino acids all one has to do is eat a reasonably mixed diet to have overall complete protein intake. But there are a number of plant proteins that are complete (or near complete), soy, many legumes, oats, etc.

So long as your diet is rich in whole grains, legumes and vegetables you don't have to put much thought to protein. Its empty foods like oils, refined sugars and the processed products made from them that can create problems. I think this is one of the problems people have when going from vegetarian to vegan, dairy and eggs are fatty but also relatively high in protein where as fatty vegan foods tend to be low in protein (nuts, for example, are low to moderate in protein). Therefore one has trade some of the fatty foods for more carbohydrate rich foods (e.g., legumes) to pack in the protein.
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#25 Old 05-13-2013, 09:20 PM
 
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The completeness of individual proteins doesn't matter much, just your overall protein consumption throughout the day. The vast majority of plant proteins have all 9 essential amino acids, what makes many of them "incomplete" is that they aren't in the correct proportion for human needs. Since plant proteins vary in their proportion of the 9 essential amino acids all one has to do is eat a reasonably mixed diet to have overall complete protein intake. But there are a number of plant proteins that are complete (or near complete), soy, many legumes, oats, etc.

So long as your diet is rich in whole grains, legumes and vegetables you don't have to put much thought to protein. Its empty foods like oils, refined sugars and the processed products made from them that can create problems. I think this is one of the problems people have when going from vegetarian to vegan, dairy and eggs are fatty but also relatively high in protein where as fatty vegan foods tend to be low in protein (nuts, for example, are low to moderate in protein). Therefore one has trade some of the fatty foods for more carbohydrate rich foods (e.g., legumes) to pack in the protein.


Sounds like yet another complexity on top of already complicated vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Me thinks it's easier to buy some sort of a plant protein mix. Same goes for anything else - I can certainly seek out foods that have B-12 or zinc, but it be more cost/time efficient to take a multivitamin supplement.  

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#26 Old 05-13-2013, 11:06 PM
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Sounds like yet another complexity on top of already complicated vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Me thinks it's easier to buy some sort of a plant protein mix. Same goes for anything else - I can certainly seek out foods that have B-12 or zinc, but it be more cost/time efficient to take a multivitamin supplement.  


Well, the absorbability and efficiency of your body's ability to use macro and micronutrients from processed isolates is another matter to consider as well.  Plus common sense.

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#27 Old 05-14-2013, 12:15 AM
 
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I too don't really think about it. I play football (soccer) at a reasonably high standard 3 times a week and train in BJJ once a week. I was also doing muay Thai and MMA 5-6 days a week previous.

I am light for my height but have always been told I am strong and people are suprised when they see my build. Injuries heal no different to when I ate meat or dairy and in fact a get a lot less now.

My go too meal which has a high % of protein is bean and quinoa burger topped with portobello mushroom and spinach.
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#28 Old 05-14-2013, 12:50 AM
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Sounds like yet another complexity on top of already complicated vegetarian/vegan lifestyle
I don't follow, what is the complexity? How are vegetarian and vegan lifestyles complicated? I can describe a healthy vegan lifestyle in one sentence:

- A diet that consists of whole grains,legumes, vegetables (especially dark leafy greens), some nuts, some fruits and minimal amounts of added fats/sugar.

A healthy vegan lifestyle may not be obvious to the average person, but that doesn't mean its "complicated".
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. Me thinks it's easier to buy some sort of a plant protein mix. Same goes for anything else - I can certainly seek out foods that have B-12 or zinc, but it be more cost/time efficient to take a multivitamin supplement.  
Not sure what you mean, you mean its easier to buy supplements and not worry about eating a healthy diet? Sufficient protein, vitamins, etc comes for free when you're eating healthy. I suppose that may be easier in some sense, but your health is going to suffer. Seems odd to worry about getting enough protein while you destroy your body with poor nutrition.....

Also, not all nutrients work well in supplement form. The digestive system is built around getting small amounts of nutrients throughout the day, not mega-doses all at once. Not to mention there are thousands of compounds in plants that you won't find in a vitamin/mineral pill.
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#29 Old 05-14-2013, 02:46 AM
 
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Agree with the above. There is absolutely NOTHING complex about a vegan diet.
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#30 Old 05-14-2013, 06:51 AM
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Sounds like yet another complexity on top of already complicated vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Me thinks it's easier to buy some sort of a plant protein mix. Same goes for anything else - I can certainly seek out foods that have B-12 or zinc, but it be more cost/time efficient to take a multivitamin supplement.  


Okay, as far as B12 goes, there are soy milks (and probably other milks too) that are fortified with non animal derived B12.

Or, you use Nutrional Yeast. It's not expensive at all and you just sprinkle it on when you'd rather use parmesan (you can also use it in some sauces).

As far as zinc goes, it can be found in nuts, chocolate, bran flakes and if you're lacto-vegetarian, it can be found in dairy. Those are all things you should be eating anyway as part of a balanced diet.

Logic is right (OMG, WE AGREED, THE WORLD IS SPLITTING APART! SAVE ME DOCTOR!). You can find the right nutrients in a good diet.

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