That statement has become a MANTRA for decades, and athletes and bodybuilders alike chant it as if it a rule that will hold fast for centuries to come. The fact is though…it's crap.
The YOU MUST GET PROTEIN FROM MEAT was a mindset that began from a study and some long-held beliefs that are over 100 years old and have since been disproven many times over, but, when an idea takes root and becomes part of our daily lives, it can be hard to part with.
The real facts (and you can look up countless studies from respected universities online, a few cited below) is this:
Humans need FAR less protein per day than once thought (approx. 45-55 grams per day vs. the more than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight often touted in the health and fitness industry)
You can get all the protein you need from PLANTS.
Yep, plants. While we usually think of vitamins and fiber when the discussion of plants comes up (especially when the discussion is with ardent meat-eaters) the fact is we can get all the protein we need from plants, even if we are trying to put on some serious muscle. AND, study after study continues to show that a largely plant-based diet is healthier over time than one comprised of mostly meat. You see, your body doesn't discriminate between protein derived from plants and that derived from meat and when eating a largely plant-based diet, you are also consuming fiber and a host of vitamins as well. While some may hate to hear it, many vegetables are more complete foods than meat. Much more complete.
So, just what kinds of plants contain protein? Here is a list you can use when looking to get your protein from plant sources:
Tofu (5-6 grams of protein per ounce)
Edamame (5-6 grams of protein per ounce)
Lentils (just 1 cup of cooked lentils contains roughly 18 grams of protein)
Beans (most varieties contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup)
Green peas (about 9 grams per cooked cup)
Oatmeal (6 grams per ½ cup)
Wild rice (7 grams of protein per cooked cup)
And the above list just represents some of the powerhouses of protein, the actual list is HUGE and includes almonds, brussels sprouts, broccoli, pistachios, potatoes, avocados and more. In addition to getting plenty of protein from plants, the total amount of vitamins and minerals combined with the low caloric content and anti-inflammatory properties of going plant-based provides enough evidence to make any open-minded fitness fanatic want to take a second look.
Now, if you love your steak (and we know how you feel) you may still need to get your meat fix on from time to time. But the more research you do, the more you will find that plant-based diets can give you all the protein you need and will likely help you stay healthier and possibly even live longer as a result.