Rachel Brathen Answers Every Vegan’s Least-Favorite Question: “How Do You Get Enough Protein?”

Photo: Getty Images/John Lamparski
Anyone who's ever taken a vegan diet for a test drive knows there's no shortage of invasive speculation that comes with the all-veg lifestyle. But one FAQ tends to get tossed out way more than salad during dinner conversation: How do you get enough protein from vegan sources?

When I ask Rachel Brathen, the herbivorous yogi known as Yoga Girl, about her experience with what I feel to be the seriously overplayed query, she immediately backs me up: It is a thing. "I think it's so funny. It’s like the number-one question that I’m asked by non-vegans and non-vegetarians, but I think it’s a little bit outdated," she says with a laugh. "You don’t need to eat beef, eggs, and all these other animal products to get your protein."

"I get most of my protein from what you would assume are the basic non-animal forces, so we eat a lot of tofu, beans, and lentils, and quinoa, things like that. And of course a lot of nuts." —Rachel Brathen, Yoga Girl

According to the Dietary Reference Intakes set out by the US Department of Health and Human Services, she's totally right. Those guidelines spell out that individuals need to eat about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Meaning, for every 25 pounds you weigh, you should be eating about 9 grams of protein, unless you're an endurance athletes, meaning you may require between 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kg, or about 14 grams per 25 pounds. So while yes, eating a small chicken breast (31 grams per 100-gram serving) or another animal product may help you reach your quota faster, plant-based options of the macronutrient, like hemp seeds (10 grams in 3 Tbsp), oatmeal (6 grams per one cup), and peas (4.5 grams per 1/2 cup) will push you toward to the protein finish line, too.

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The most beautiful breakfast. In my favorite place. The podcast is out and in today’s episode I talk about that side of us that wants to pull us out of alignment - you all know what I mean! It’s that little voice that whispers “just one more episode” when you’ve already watched 3 episodes of your favorite show on Netflix and before you know it it’s 1am and you’ve missed out on a peaceful nights sleep and the ability to get up early to start the day right. It’s the voice that urges you to drink one more glass of wine, finish the entire pint of ice cream, that keeps you in relationships that don’t serve you and that hits the snooze button again and again and again. For me, these seemingly small things are what bring me completely out of alignment and in this weeks episode of the podcast I share how I’ve lost my early mornings to late night Netflix and how it’s SO DAMN HARD TO GET OUT OF. What brings you out of balance? What do you have “just one more” of and how does it impact your life on a larger scale? I talk about moment in my life where I’ve been super unhealthy and how when I’m tired or over worked, these patterns start sneaking their way back in. I also give tips on how to turn it all around, to make decisions that keep us well aligned and lead a lifestyle that fuels us and lights us up from within. Link in bio to listen! Or go to rachelbrathen.com for all podcast providers. Happy Friday? #yogagirlpodcast #fromtheheart #yogagirl #smoothiebowl #breakfast #yoga #life #yogaeverydamnday

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Brathen prefers to pack in the essential nutrient as deliciously as possible: "I eat a lot of tofu, beans, and lentils, and quinoa, things like that. And of course a lot of nuts," she says. When the asana lover isn't shelling pistachios as part of her partnership with Wonderful, she tells me she's a huge proponent of quick curries and lasagnas stuffed with faux-ricotta. And as a rule, she always tries to supercharge pasta dishes with lentils, legumes that boast about 9 grams of protein per serving (a combo that, BTW, Lea Luna—her one-and-a-half-year-old totally ships too). 

The takeaway? Next time someone insinuates you're deficient in this macronutrient, politely place your delish veggie burger back onto your plate, and patiently explain why vegetables, too, are perfectly capable of fueling your workouts, fulfilling your amino-acid needs, and repairing your muscles. Then kindly ask them to pass the beet ketchup, please.

Add these recipes to your vegan eats rolodex: delicata squash doughnuts and rice-paper bacon

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