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The Need for Protein

Proteins are important for healthy bones, brain tissue, skin, nails, hair, muscles, organs, hormones, antibodies, enzymes, chemical messengers, blood cells, nerves, and the DNA and RNA used to form the genetic code of life. According to studies from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, The World Health organization, The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Research Council (agencies independent of dairy and meat industries) our need for protein ranges from 2.5 percent to a little over 8 percent of our total daily caloric intake.

Vegetarians get complete proteins by eating whole grains, such as brown rice, corn, oats and barley; legumes, such as beans and lentils; and nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Include foods from two or more of these groups throughout the day and rest assured that you are receiving more protein than your body needs.

The following is from Marilyn Diamond's   "American Vegetarian Cookbook":

To step away from the "fractionated" concept of this-amino-acid-here and that-amino-acid-there, I'm giving you a list of some very fine foods of significant protein content. Where the figure for the percentage of calories from protein for any given food was available, I have included it in parentheses. Remember our protein-need ranges from 2.5% to 8% of daily caloric intake.


Almonds (12%) Amaranth (20%+) Apricots (8%)
Artichoke (22%) Asparagus (38%) Avocado (5%)
Bamboo Shoots(39%) Bananas (5%) Barley (11%)
Beechnuts Beet Greens (37%) Blackberries
Brazil Nuts (9%) Broadbeans (32%) Broccoli (45%)
Brussels Sprouts Buckwheat (15%) Butternuts (15%)
Cabbage, Chinese (34%) Cabbage, Red (22%) Cabbage, Savoy (22%)
Cantaloupe (9%) Cashews (12%) Cauliflower (40%)
Celery (21%) Cherries (8%) Chestnuts (6%)
Coconut, Fresh (4%) Collards (43%) Corn, Sweet(12%)
Cucumbers (24%) Dandelion (24%) Dried Legumes
Fennel Figs (6%) Filberts (8%)
Garbanzos (23%) Garlic Clove (20%) Grapefruit (5%)
Grapes (8%) Green Beans (26%) Green Peas (30%)
Hickory Nuts Honeydew (10%) Hot Red Peppers(17%)
Kale (45%) Kohlrabi Kohlrabi
Leeks Lentils (29%) Lettuce(s) (34%)
Limas (26%) Legumes Macadamias
Millet (12%) Miso Mung Beansprouts(43%)
Mushrooms (38%) Mustard Greens (39%) Oats (15%)
Okra (27%) Oranges (8%) Pumpkin Seeds (21%)
Quinoa (20% +) Red Beans (26%) Rice, Brown (8%)
Papaya (6%) Parsley (34%) Peaches (6%)
Pears (5%) Pecans (5%) Pepper, Grn Bell(22%)
Pine Nuts (pinon) (8%) Pintos (26%) Prunes (4%)
Rye (20%) Sea Vegetables Sesame Seeds (13%)
Soybeans (35%) Soymilk Spinach (49%)
Split Peas (28%) Sprouted Soybeans(54%) Sprouts
Strawberries (8%) Swiss Chard Tofu (43%)
Triticale Turnip Greens (43%) Walnuts(13%)
Watercress (46%) Watermelon (8%) Wheat Germ (31%)
Whole Wheat (17%) Wild Rice (18%) Zucchini (28%)