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But where do raw vegans get protein? If vegans and raw vegans had a dollar for every time they heard that question… well, you know where I’m going with this. Stop eating meat and dairy – cue the whole world and his dog worrying about your health. Eat junk all day every day? No-one bats an eyelid!
Luckily, vegans are slowly managing to fight the stereotype of being nothing more than meagre, frail beings who nibble on corn throughout the day, practising yoga at any given opportunity and preaching to the world about saving the planet, man. But raw vegan? How do we not die?
The irony of it all is that vegan diets, raw in particular, are the healthiest of the lot. Want a long, happy life? Choose raw vegan. It’s as simple as that. In fact, wholefoods, plant-based diets are known to fight various forms of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as improve our mental health, increase our energy, and give us clear skin.
I’ll admit that, before I’d researched all the life-changing benefits that the lifestyle has to offer, I too worried that I would lack protein, to the point of limbs falling off at any given moment. Thankfully, after 4 years of being vegan and eating a mostly raw vegan diet in that time, I’m alive and well, with all limbs firmly intact. It’s a miracle!
How much protein do raw vegans and all of us really need?
One of the biggest health myths around is that we need a tonne of this macronutrient to lose weight, feel our best, and, well, survive. But that is just not the case. We of course need enough of it to preserve muscle mass and repair our cells, but excess protein, especially that from animals, can be harmful.
In fact, a high protein diet has been linked with high cholesterol and higher risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of cancer, kidney disease, weight gain, constipation and diarrhoea.
Nutrition expert Michael Greger, in his book, ‘How Not to Die’, describes how the consumption of meat can lead to an increased risk of colon cancer and how processed meat, well-cooked meat and fried foods may correlate with a higher risk of one of the most aggressive forms of cancer: pancreatic.
If that isn’t bad enough – and it’s already pretty bad – he explains how a high intake of dairy products appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer and how a team of nutrition experts at Harvard University found that hormones in dairy products could stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive tumours. Not for me, thanks!
What’s more, David Gerow Irving, author of ‘The Protein Myth’ explains how humans actually lose about 10 grams of protein a day, so we only really need a small amount to make up for what we lose. He similarly describes how excessive consumption can compromise our health because the body cannot store protein, leading to an ‘accumulation of toxic by-products’. Pretty obvious at this point, really…
And one of my articles wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to Fully Raw Kristina, the raw vegan Queen! In her video on protein, she explains that even the World Health Organisation say 10% of our daily calories from protein is plenty. She describes how the only people who suffer from ‘protein deficiency’ are those who are not eating enough calories. Luckily, given that this lifestyle is all about mega smoothies, huge salads, and giving your body what it needs, this will not be an issue!
What if I play sport?
Despite the long-standing myth, extra protein does not equal extra strength. Some famous athletes who are known to stay away from animal products are Meagan Duhamel, pro figure skater, Lewis Hamilton, mega-famous F1 racer, Venus Williams, very mega-famous tennis player and Carl Lewis, athletics legend. Carl even said that his most successful year followed him switching to a diet with no meat.
In fact, there are even loads of vegan and raw vegan bodybuilders out there, bulking up and proving that vegan does not equal weak! From Bobby, a raw vegan bodybuilder to vegan bodybuilder Patrik Baboumian, breaking world records – and stereotypes – here there and everywhere, it’s pretty obvious that we do not need copious amounts of meat products to survive and thrive!
Where will I get protein on a raw vegan diet?
So where do Bobby and Patrick get their protein, and where will you get yours? Whilst Popeye is simply a cartoon, we can take many a lesson away from it. There’s a reason he eats his spinach!
Here are 13 of some of the best protein sources for raw vegans!
Not only are veggies jam packed with energy-boosting carbs, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but many contain a surprisingly high amount of protein. Praise the veggie Lord! Is there anything they can’t do?!
Spinach contains 2.9g of protein per 100g, as well as loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so pack it into your smoothies and salads, and be strong to the finish, cos you eat your spinach!
Kale is so in vogue right now. With its high protein content and versatility, it’s obvious why! Again, added to smoothies, juices and salads, kale will give you a protein boost, with its 3.3g per 100g, but for super snacking on the go, try these delectable kale chips. I’m sure that if a 21st century, hipster Popeye made an appearance, the lyrics would be changed to ‘I’m strong to the finish, cos I eats me kale chips’. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though, I guess.
With 3.1g protein per 100g, mushrooms are not only a protein source, but ready to make any dish super hearty! Try these beautiful stuffed mushrooms or raw meatloaf, both textured and tantalizing dishes, perfect for Christmas dinner! Or just eat punnets of them as they are, like me. Is that weird?
Fruit, in its never-ending brilliance, is not just full of beautiful natural sugar that energises our minds and bodies, but contains a decent amount of protein! And considering how much raw vegans eat of it on a daily basis (with no guilt whatsoever – what a life!), we actually get quite a lot of our daily protein intake from these sweet and creamy pieces of awesomeness!
Before you say it, I know avocados aren’t exactly sweet, but they are a fruit! Save that one for the Christmas trivia games!
The fruit or veggie debate aside, containing 2g of protein per 100g, whack an avocado on everything you ever eat, and you’ll be well away. The King of the raw vegan world, everyone and his carrot’s jumping on the avocado bandwagon, and for good reason. Not only does it contain protein, but also the good type of fat, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and a shedload of vitamins I don’t have space to list here!
Eat on its own, eat on a salad, eat in a smoothie, eat in this luxurious raw chocolate mousse, or, if it’s about time you settled down with your loved one, propose with it. No, I’m not joking and yes, this really is a thing. The perfect vegan proposal, just make sure it’s ripe enough to jam the ring in there.
Wonderfully exotic and creamy, guava will transport you straight to a tropical Caribbean island… in spirit, at least. A fab addition to sweet and savoury dishes, guava contains a fabulous 2.6g of protein per 100g. Mix with coconut milk for a truly delicious smoothie to start the day!
These cute little juicy fruits can of course be eaten as they come, but also make a great addition to raw desserts! Try this delectable raw cheesecake, topped with apricots and walnuts, for a protein-packed sweet delight. With 1.4g of protein per 100g, eating a few (and a raw vegan’s ‘few’ normally means at least 10), means you’ll be packing in the protein!
Even though nuts and seeds have a higher energy density, they’re full of vital fats and proteins, which, when eaten in smaller amounts, give us the nutrition we need. About a handful a day or less is perfect.
With a whopping 25g of protein per 100g of peanuts, the most obvious way to enjoy these nutty, protein powerhouses is to whip up some peanut butter in your Vitamix. I can’t stress this enough: do not try to make nut butter in a cheap, weak blender that has clearly not had its daily required amount of protein. See what I did there? At least I make myself laugh…
Make raw nut butters of all kinds super easy in a blender fit for raw vegan royalty!
Once you’ve got your batch of deliciously smooth and fresh peanut butter (no unwanted additives, toxins or preservatives to be found!), you may as well whip up a batch of these moreish raw peanut butter cookies. I mean, it’d be rude not to.
So you should always have around 20 pounds of cashews at any one time in your raw vegan pantry. This is, of course, an exaggeration. 17 or 18 pounds should suffice.
In all seriousness, you’re probably gonna use a lot of cashews as a raw vegan, and with 18g of protein per 100g, that’s a good enough excuse. As if their creamy deliciousness and incredible versatility wasn’t enough!
Aside from the obvious raw cheesecakes, use cashews to make a raw cheese sauce for veggies or lasagnes, or this beautifully textured and creamy Thai kale salad with cashew dressing. Heaven.
Whole almonds, per 100g, contain an impressive 21g protein. Try this awesome raw almond butter, and team a tablespoon with some slices of juicy apple for a plant-protein-packed snack that will have you running around like Carl Lewis! Kind of… Or for a breakfast of champions, try this almond and banana ‘pudding’. Feels so naughty, but tastes so nice! And does your body nothing but good.
Just like nuts, seeds provide us with vital protein, but no more than a sprinkle to a handful a day is recommended for optimum health, given their high fat content!
Containing a huge 25g of protein per 100g, pumpkin seeds are truly protein royalty! Try some of these energy-packed hemp and pumpkin seed bars for smashing through the longest list of chores like a boss. And when you’re done in half the time it normally takes because you’re so full of vigor, ensure you run over to any friends or family member members who worry about your protein intake and drop a mic at their doorstep.
Containing 22g of protein per 100g, sunflower seeds can be snacked on, sprinkled on to smoothie bowls and added to salads for an extra protein boost. Or, for a salad with a creamy twist, make some of this delicious sunflower seed dressing. Talk about versatile!
Flax, with 18.3g protein per 100g, makes protein-packed and beautiful sweet and savory dishes! Think you can’t eat bread? Pfftt.. pretty much any ‘traditional’ dish has a raw vegan alternative, just without the toxic rubbish and detrimental effect on the body! Good times!
Try this deliciously different raw onion bread, with some hummus for a lunch that the whole office will envy. And you’ll be the only one not reaching for a sweet treat at 2pm to keep you awake…
The miscellaneous category!
Saving the best till last, with a mega 57g of protein per 100g, spirulina is the King of protein. ‘What on earth is that?’ is what I distinctly remember saying when a friend of mine recommended I try it.
So spirulina is an organism found in fresh and salt water, which, on the surface, doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But don’t let that put you off. One of the most ‘nutrient dense’ foods on the planet, it makes a great addition to any raw vegan pantry! Try this raw vegan ‘chocolate’, made with dates, coconut oil and spirulina, for a protein-rich treat, or start your day with a greener than you’ve ever seen before green smoothie. Who runs the health world? Spirulina, apparently!
There you have it: a list of the some of the best protein sources on a raw vegan diet! Hopefully you’ve seen that, despite the stereotypes, you’ll get plenty of protein as a raw vegan. And the next time anyone questions your protein intake, simply show them this article. Or a picture of Patrick Baboumian, one of the world’s strongest men, but no meat. I doubt they’d dare ask him where he gets his protein!
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