Vegan Protein? But What About Fiber?!

by | May 29, 2018

When it comes to veganism, everyone is concerned about getting enough protein, but what about fiber?

Nobody is concerned with the amount of protein that you are eating until they find out that you’re vegan, then suddenly it becomes a huge issue. The idea that our bodies need loads of protein is completely false, by eating a standard vegan diet with sufficient calories, the chances of becoming protein deficient are extremely slim. The big question to respond with would be; where do you get your fiber?

 

It turns out that Americans are actually consuming way more protein than they need, “Contrary to all the hype that everyone needs more protein, Americans get twice what they need,” mentions Mayo Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Kristi Wempen. Since more than 90% of Americans are eating animals and their byproducts, almost everyone’s protein is coming with a massive side of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a nasty one, and most people may not realize that it is found in even the ‘lean’ animal products like chicken and fish. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and what causes heart disease? You guessed it, cholesterol.


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The human body will absolutely thrive off of plant-based proteins, as they are free of all the nasties that go hand in hand with animal protein. It is recommended that we take in .9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, it works out that about 10% of a person’s daily calories are coming from protein, which equals about 63 grams for a 154-pound male. The amount of fiber that is suggested per day is roughly 14 grams per 1,000 calories in your diet. So for a man who is maintaining his weight (eating 2500 calories per day), that’s about 35 grams of fiber per day. So what about fiber? Are Americans consuming enough fiber? According to Nutrition Facts, the answer is absolutely not. An astonishing 97% of Americans are not consuming enough fiber, that’s a lot! No wonder fiber supplement companies are doing so well, we all know somebody that is taking Metamucil or Benefiber to help ‘keep regular’, but this is not a good source of fiber to reap nutritional benefits from. It is surprising that less than 3% of the population (presumably those simply not eating enough calories) is deficient in protein and yet that is the nutrient that is causing the most uproar.


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Now… let’s take a look at some popular vegan foods and their fiber and protein content, as well as the fiber and protein content from popular standard American foods:

 

 Black Beans (per 6 ounces)                         VS.                     Hamburger (per 6 ounces)                                

15 grams of protein                                                                                              42 grams of protein

15 grams of fiber                                                                                                  0 grams of fiber

0 fat                                                                                                                     18 grams of fat

(and tons of other nutrients)            

Lentils (per 6 ounces)                                                           Eggs (per 6 ounces)

18 grams of protein                                                                                         21 grams of protein

15 grams of fiber                                                                                             0 grams of fiber

<1 gram of fat                                                                                                 16 grams of fat

(and tons of other nutrients)

Split Peas (per 6 ounces)                                                    Chicken (per 6 ounces)

12 grams of protein                                                                                       39 grams of protein

12 grams of fiber                                                                                           0 grams of fiber

<1 gram of fat                                                                                               2 grams of fat

(and tons of other nutrients)

 

Clearly, animal products are extremely high in protein, but do you notice what is missing? What about fiber? For a majority of animal proteins, the fiber is completely replaced with fat. Even though chicken has much less fat, it still has some bad cholesterol and absolutely no fiber whatsoever. Now, some people may be only looking at the protein content and be so proud that animal flesh and secretions are so high in protein… but is this really a good thing? Is there such thing as too much protein? Yes. Yes, there is.


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The Physicians Committee explains to us that an overload of protein can cause kidney disease, When people eat too much protein, they take in more nitrogen than they need. This places a strain on the kidneys, which must expel the extra nitrogen through urine.” Not only is kidney disease a major concern that can be caused by excess protein, but osteoporosis and kidney stones are likely to happen as well. Diets that are rich in animal protein cause people to excrete more calcium than normal through their kidneys and increase the risk of osteoporosis,” continues the article by The Physicians Committee.

 

Since most of the population is consuming their protein from animal sources, such as the ones listed above, they are greatly increasing their risk of cancer. Not necessarily from the protein itself, but from the large amounts of cholesterol in their protein sources. If a person is consuming processed meats (deli meats, sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon etc) then their risk of cancer skyrockets, you can see a wonderful infographic on the cancer risks here.

 

A big question Americans may have is, are there risks associated with not consuming sufficient fiber? There certainly is, fiber plays a vital role in the human body by reducing cholesterol, regulating sugar, keeping an optimal PH in the intestines and more. The University of Maryland has found that by keeping up your daily fiber requirements, you will reduce the chances of heart disease and even significantly lowering your chances of colon cancer as well. If you are struggling with heart disease, diabetes or obesity, eating high amounts of fiber will dramatically improve your health. True, healthy fiber is not found in any animal products (or Metamucil), it is strictly a nutrient that must be consumed through whole plant foods. White bread, white rice, white pasta and white crackers are not good sources of fiber. Look for kinds of pasta and crackers made with things such as beans, quinoa, and lentils for a wonderful nutrient-dense meal that is full of fiber. By making these simple switches, you can make a world of difference to your health. 


READ MORE: VEGAN SOURCES OF FIBER

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So the next time you are asked about your protein intake, kindly redirect to the topic of fiber and give the person information, such as this article, to help guide them in the right direction. It’s important to give others the benefit of the doubt, many people are simply unaware of the true facts due to the misguidance of the meat, dairy and egg industry.

Are you getting enough nutrients in your diet? What about fiber? If you’re looking for an easy way to make sure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients, check out our Ask A Vegan Dietitian group on Facebook for access to registered dietitians who can answer all of your questions, and you’ll even receive weekly meal guides too!

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I grew up on the West Coast of Canada and currently live in Northern California with my amazing husband and our beautiful vegan daughter. I love researching all of the amazing benefits that go hand in hand with being plant-based, so I was thrilled to find Raise Vegan and become an active writer for this inspiring team. When I’m not writing for Raise Vegan, you can find me on Instagram!

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