Why Do I Need Protein & How Much Do I Need?

You may have labelled protein as something that bulky gym-goers gorge on to get big, but this is actually a macronutrient that we all need in our diet, whether you work out regularly or not.

One of the biggest myths about taking on a vegan diet is that it’s hard to get enough protein — well, we’re here to bust that myth. From how much you need, to where to get it — here’s everything you need to know about protein.


What is protein?

Simply put, protein makes up the building blocks for lots of important structures in your body — it’s an important component of every cell. Your hair and nails are made mostly from protein and it’s used in the body to build and repair tissues, as well as to make enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals in the body.

Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids — some can be produced by your body (non-essential amino acids), while others have to be taken in as a part of your diet (essential amino acids).

couple preparing food

How much protein do I need?

Protein is a macronutrient, which means that the body needs a decent amount of it for your body to stay healthy. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, you need about 0.75g per kg of bodyweight every day. If you’re trying to build muscle, then this can go up to as much 1.8g per kg of bodyweight.1

If you’ve been ill, are pregnant, or exercise regularly, then you may need to increase your protein intake. That’s because these are the times when your body uses more amino acids than it repairs and builds tissue with.


Where can I get plant-based protein from?

Ditched the meat and dairy? You might have been told that it’s a challenge to get enough protein on a plant-based diet, but it really doesn’t have to be. It’s often thought that you can only get protein from animal products, but plenty of plants contain all the protein you need too. Here are a few of our favourites:

people preparing food

Food: Nutrition: Meal ideas:
Tofu 12g protein per 100g

·        Stir fry

·        Baking

·        Stirring into soup

Pulses 5-10g protein per 100g

·        Curry

·        Falafels

·        Beans on toast

Nuts and seeds 3-5g protein per heaped tablespoon

·        Sprinkle on cereal

·        Bake into bread

·        Simple snacking

Oats 10g protein per 100g

·        Breakfast

·        Baking

Protein powder (Soy Protein Powder, Vegan Protein Blend) Up to 28g per serving

·        Smoothies

·        Baking

·        Breakfast

Seitan 20g protein per 100g

·        Roast dinner

·        Meat substitute

Take Home Message

Protein is an essential part of everyone’s diet, but the amount you need can depend on a few factors, such as your size and lifestyle. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources out there — it doesn’t need to be a challenge if you eat a balanced diet. You can also supplement with vegan protein powders for a tasty and convenient way to meet your daily needs.

Protein for building muscle: Phillips, S. M., & Van Loon, L. J. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(sup1), S29-S38.

Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

Writer and expert

Evangeline is a Veganuary convert and newbie vegan with a degree in English and French from the University of Nottingham. Having recently ditched the meat and dairy, she really enjoys the new flavours and cooking techniques she’s encountered on a plant-based diet. She’s been shocked by the millions of ways you can use tofu, however still hasn’t found a decent cheese substitute!

When she’s not in the office or eating, Evangeline usually out running or sailing. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor and a marathon runner, she knows the importance of providing your body with the right nutrients for endurance sports as well as a busy lifestyle.

Find out more about Evie's experience here.