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How Much Protein Do You Need to Eat Each Day

If you ever become vegetarian or vegan it won't take very long before someone asks you how you can get enough protein without eating animal protein. This is one of the great myths of our time popularized by the meat, dairy, and egg industries. I like to answer it with Dr. Joel Fuhrman's approach of pointing out that elephants, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes all eat nothing but plants and seem to get big enough on leaves and grass.

A report produced jointly by the United Nations and the World Health Organization (“Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition” (pdf)) recommends an adult needs 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of lean mass body weight per day. (Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get how many kilograms you weigh). For a 170-pound adult, this is about 64 grams of protein per day. Not so much, and a target that's not that hard to hit when you consider the average person in the United States consumes over 100gm/day.

Of course for many of us, calculating our lean mass body weight may be a challenge since many of us are not lean. But perhaps in our late teens or early 20s we were lean or close to it, so if you can remember what you weighed then if you weren't overweight at that time, then that's probably something close to your lean body mass. Or if your weight is currently in the normal range for BMI, then perhaps that would work too.

Not only is it easy to reach your daily protein requirement with whole plant foods, but eating whole plant foods lowers your weight, your cholesterol, prevents and reverses type 2 diabetes, prevents heart disease and strokes, and protects you against cancer.

The study notes, by the way, that "sedentary elderly women" need to take care not to fall below the recommended guideline otherwise they risk suffering from muscle wasting, a condition known as sarcopenia.

Animal protein has been shown in multiple peer-reviewed studies to promote cancer. "The China Study" by Dr. T. Colin Campbell covers a remarkable set of studies, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, and other organizations, and lasted more than nineteen years. I recommend you read this book to get an understanding of the powerful health benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet.


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