How much protein do you really need?
The USDA’s recommended daily allowance is about 0.36 gram of protein for every pound of body weight (so, at 130 pounds, you’d need about 47 grams of protein daily). I’ve also broken down how to calculate your protein needs and the best plant-based protein sources in my infographic below. Please note: If you’re an athlete trying to build muscle, are pregnant or lactating, or are under physical stress, use 0.45 when calculating protein needs (so, at 130 pounds, you’d need about 59 grams of protein daily). Reality check: The average American adult consumes between 100 and 120 grams of protein every day. Not only is that nearly two to three times what we need, it comes mostly from high-fat animal products.
So clearly, if you’re eating a well-balanced plant-based diet—meaning you’re consuming a wide variety of high-quality foods, like vegetables, greens, sprouts, legumes, tempeh, beans, nuts, grains, and so on—then you will certainly meet your protein needs. Even the higher protein needs of pregnant and breast-feeding women, and athletes can easily be met just by eating more of the good stuff.
And once you embrace the deliciousness of plant-based cooking, there’s a entire world of whole foods (filled with all the protein you need) waiting to be experienced and savored.