Vegetarian Vitality

07.19.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, LDN, CSSD Team Dietitian

Last week I sang the praises of protein and touted all the roles this powerful nutrient plays in our body.

I often have clients who are considering a vegetarian diet (several years ago it happened to be a Redskins player) and more often than not they are worried they will not get enough protein if they give up meat. I quickly put this concern to rest by listing all the wonderful and delicious protein sources found in a plant-based diet.

How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

Contrary to popular belief, we actually don't need as much protein as we often think. The average American gets more than twice the protein needed by the body for proper functioning and health.

To find out your personal protein needs, take your weight in pounds divide by 2.2 and multiply that number by 0.8. This is the total grams of protein you need each day.

To put this number in perspective, check out the following list of protein content in various vegetarian foods:

An important fact to note is that individual plant-based protein sources, with the exception of soy; do not contain all the essential amino acids (EAA). To ensure you get the entire spectrum of EAA, enjoy a variety of vegetarian protein sources and whole grains. For example the combinations of beans and rice or peanut butter on whole-wheat toast will provide you with the whole set of EAA. For more on complete proteins and EAA visit

Athletes, in particular, are worried that a vegetarian diet will hamper their athletic performance. For a great article on famous athletes turned vegetarian, check out this story on

I hope I've calmed some concern about the vitality of a vegetarian diet for those following a meatless diet and maybe even sparked some interest in our meat-loving readers to go vegetarian at least one day a week - like Meatless Mondays!

I would love to hear from our WOW members about what you think of vegetarianism and please share ideas of your favorite vegetarian meals below in the comment section.

Great Resources for Vegetarians:

Make it a healthy week!
- Jane

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