Nov 04

When I was a teenager I decided one summer I was going to be a vegetarian, eating only fish no more then once a week. I am sure I made life hard on mother that summer, and I know I lived off of junk food and not many veggies. But one thing I mother kept telling me is that I had to eat some meat because I wasn’t going to get enough protein. I am pretty sure it’s something most people who go veg hear. And to be honest, for once I think my mom and others are wrong. (and my mother rarely is wrong :)

I can’t blame my mother or the people who feel like we have to eat meat to be healthy, it’s something we’ve been taught. Just like we’ve been taught you have to drink milk to get your calcium, when Kale, Tahini and figs all rival or beat milk out in levels of calcium a serving contains.  We’ve been told for years that we need meat, and when meat became available cheaply to the masses (when it once was a luxury for only the wealthy, just think “A chicken in every pot”), meats dominance of our plates was established. I quote from

We need meat.  Like it or not, it has what our body needs. With great effort and commitment we can replicate much of the health benefits found in a piece of freshly cooked lean meat by substituting other things.  Or we can simply fix our favorite cut of meat, eat it and take enormous steps toward giving our bodies what they need to be healthy and strong.”

But the reality here is that the recommended amount of protein for a female my age and weight is about 35-50 grams (it differs greatly depending on who you ask). Now, I have gone through phases where I keep track of what I eat to track the amounts of sugar, calories, fats, etc. The program I use to do it is MyPlate from LiveStrong. I used it back at the beginning of the year when John and I got married in order to ensure I would fit into my wedding dress, and after the wedding when I gained 12 lbs. in the first 4 months, I used it to help myself not gain anymore! The great part is that it’s free and once you create your login it keep your information on file so I logged in this weekend to do a test.

Sunday there was no meat on the menu. I had pumpkin french toast with a yogurt for breakfast, a tvp meatball sub with some hummus and crackers for lunch and the pumpkin soup with black rice pilaf and green beans for dinner. I tracked all that I ate and found, I was over my protein allowance, even with not a drop of meat all day. In fact I had 20 grams of protein from breakfast alone! I ended with 55 grams in the end, 5 grams over the highest recommendation I could find.

I also looked back to the beginning of the year on Livestrong when I ate whatever I wanted. I was WAY over my protein amount everyday, and I wouldn’t even call myself a big meat eater! We’ve been preaching quality meats here as well as less of them, and this just proves once again that we should definitely eat less meat! There is no reason to eat as much as we do. Our bodies don’t need it, the animals we cruelly raised and slaughter don’t need it and in the long run its the environment that suffers from the damage we do in raising so much meat the way we do.

I challenge you to sign on to (or whatever site you want to use that is similar, even a sheet of paper and pencil would do), keep a log of what you eat and tally up the amount of protein you are getting. It’s probably more then you need and more then you think. Then maybe try eating vegetarian for a day and see what number you come up with. It’s an eye opening experiment and maybe in the end you’ll think twice about the 9 oz. steak and go for the 4 oz. one instead. (A 4 oz. filet by the way still has 22 grams of protein)


  1. black rice has 7.50g of protein per 100g of servings. it sure will help you with your protein requirement and if you worry about the sugar and calories you’ll get. black rice has less sugar and more on fibre that aids in your digestion. try this black rice recipes its vegetarian friendly recipes.

  2. Diane/Mom A

    Just to set the record straight I never said you “had to eat meat”. What I said was you needed to get some protein into your diet. I have long known (and followed) how to make a complete protein by combing foods i.e.: beans with wheat. Your vegetarian diet was not the healthiest back then. You sure have grown since then.

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