Person whose parent studied nutrition said that it's "very hard" for vegetarians to get the "correct proteins and vitamins". Is there an "incorrect" protein? And how true do you think it is that it's "very hard"? Because maybe I'm doing it wrong, but it hasn't been that hard for me to get what I thought I needed.
It makes sense they would think that. It was believed from 1970-1990 that it was really difficult for vegans and vegetarians to get the “right” kind of proteins because of the book Diet for a Small Planet. (x) The author made it seem as if obtaining plant proteins were very complicated because you had to combine different amino acids in a single meal. We know better now; our livers can store various amino acids and this careful combination of different amino acids every meal isn’t necessary. (x)
Lysine is the most important amino acid to watch out for, and if you’re meeting your recommended daily allowance of Lysine, then more than likely you’re getting enough protein. (x)
It sounds very technical and complicated, but it’s basically saying eat high-quality protein every day.
Per serving, legumes and seitan are the foods highest in the amino acid lysine. Tofu, tempeh, soy meats, lentils, and seitan are the highest, followed by other legume foods. Quinoa, amaranth, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds are also decent sources of lysine.
So there you go. Eat some beans, tofu, or plant-based meats every day and you probably don’t have to even think about it (though having regular checkups and blood draws to make sure everything is going well is a good idea in general, as vitamin D deficiency is a pretty common occurrence in the general population).
You can even buy protein powder and make a snack of it with a shake if you’re really concerned. Protein deficiency is almost unheard of in the US if you’re getting enough calories (because even vegetables contain an assortment of amino acids), with the exception of people with health problems or tendencies toward deficiencies. I know of at least one vegan who has problems absorbing protein, so she has to consume a bit more. And she’s been vegan for decades, and is an older woman in good health, so she’s obviously doing something right.