The protein myth is a public relations gimmick perpetrated by the Dairy Council and various Meat and Beef Council organizations, which are actually PR machines for the animal agriculture industry and not government agencies. They are also the source of the incorrect assumption that vegan diets are somehow lacking, and if you don’t drink milk you will weaken your bones.
Consumers tend to rely on the last segment they saw on Cable News or the Today show for nutrition information. Viewers, generally overwhelmed with maintaining their day-to-day modern lifestyle are inundated with contradictory information pumped through the media.
Consequently, when a child or teen declares that they will not eat animal products, parents resort to much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.
A balanced plant based diet with sufficient calories is more than adequate to maintain optimal health. Americans consume two to three times the amount of protein necessary, which has a negative impact on their health.
If your child wants to be vegan, rejoice! The general state of health among children and adolescents consuming the standard American diet (SAD) is deplorable. One child in three is overweight and of those born in 2000, one in three will develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime. One child in five has a cholesterol level deemed abnormal before they graduate from high school.
A vegan diet can protect against the broad range of disease associated with consuming animal products. According T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and co-author of “The China Study,” the vegan diet can prevent and even reverse 70 to 80 percent of existing, symptomatic disease.
A healthy one-to-three-year-old child needs about a half gram of protein (.55) per pound of body weight a day. That means the average 29-pound toddler would need 16 grams of protein each day.
Similarly the RDA for a typical four to six-year-old is .5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Older children seven to fourteen years of age need .45 grams per pound of body weight and fifteen to eighteen year olds need .4 grams per pound of body weight.
The RDA for girls over 15 and boys over 18 is .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, the same as for adults.
It is easy to calculate: .36 X 75 lbs = 27 grams per day.
Not to worry! Protein is found in all plant foods, including vegetables, grains, legumes (such as beans and lentils), soy foods, nuts and seeds. The good news? Plant foods are cholesterol-free and do not contain the unhealthy levels of fat and saturated fat found in animal products.
Plant foods are also cruelty-free and devoid of the ‘ICK’ factor associated with consuming body parts, if one is thinking about where those BBQ Ribs came from.
High Sources of Protein from Plant Foods
Lentils, 18 grams of protein per cup ~
Chickpeas, 12 grams per cup ~
Tempeh, 41 grams per cup ~
Black beans, 15 grams per cup ~
Soybeans, 29 grams per cup~
Garbanzo beans, 16 grams per cup~
Tofu, 11 grams per 4 ounces ~
Quinoa, 9 grams per cup~
Brown Rice, 5 grams per cup~
2 slices of whole grain bread, 2 grams~
Sunflower seeds, 6 g in just 1/4 cup~
Almonds, 8 grams per 1/4 cup~
Cashews, 5 grams per 1/4 cup~
Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV. Follow Marie on Twitter
 Massey LK. Dietary animal and plant protein and human bone health: a whole foods approach. J Nutr. 2003 Mar;133(3):862S-865S.
 Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets
Journal of the American Dietetic Association – July 2009; 109;(7) 1266-1282
 Would We Be Healthier With a Vegan Diet? The Wall Street Journal, Sept 18, 2012 http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444184704577587174077811182