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What do grains & fruits have that legumes & veggies don't?

It is my long-held conclusion that a very large negative aspect of a vegan diet is that it results in the consumption of too much carbs and too little protein as percentage of calories.  The healthiest ratio seems to be about 30% calories from protein, 40% from carbs, and 30% from fats - which is even more protein than most meat-and-potato-eaters average.

It's still possible to attain this ratio on a vegan diet, which is what I'm aiming for, but it requires consuming only the most protein-rich plant foods like legumes and leafy greens, and avoiding all "carb junk" like: sweets, all fruits, most nuts, starchy vegetables like carrots, and low-protein grains like rice and white bread.  I've recently found a way to reduce grain intake to almost zero by getting the methionine amino acid, in which legumes are poor, from sesame / wheat / seaweed extracts (see here).

I eat a great variety of high-protein legumes, with soy playing only a secondary role.  For example, the "16 bean soup" dried beans mixture is a major staple, cooked with lots of spices and extracts that make it a complete protein.  I eat almost all vegetables raw, and focus on micro-nutrient champions like kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, and collard greens - which I munch on endlessly like some moviegoers munch popcorn.  Things like mushrooms, watercress, lettuce, parsley, dill, and zucchini play a secondary role in my salads.  I still consume some a few vegetables that are below ~20% calories from protein, because they don't add many calories overall: tomatoes / tomato paste, superhuman quantities of garlic, onions, hot peppers, ginger root, and other spices.  Needless to say I take vitamin supplements, including D and B12.

By pretty much every nutritional standard I've considered so far, this fruitless grainless potatoless (etc) variation on the vegan diet is a lot healthier, but I could be missing something.  Does anyone know any nutrient found in what I call "carb junk" foods that isn't also found (usually in much greater concentrations) in higher-protein vegetables and legumes?

Sounds like you've done your research and are eating a pretty balanced and healthy diet, even if you're not 100% satisfied with it. 

Just a minor beef is that I wish you wouldn't call fruits, nuts and grains "carb junk".  Many of us thrive, are muscular and toned (not body builders) on the healthful disease fighting anti-oxidant rich foods you describe as junk.  I disagree completely owith your long-held conclusion.  I'm happy it works for you, and I've concluded that one size doesn't seem to fit all when it comes to optimal nutrition.  No need to debate, since that's not what you're after and I respect your position. 

Carry on and thanks for listening.  :D


Maybe you do better on a higher protein diet, but I find that, while my protein consumption varies, I probably have more days where I hover around the WHO's recommendation of 10-15% of calories from protein than I do where I get up to 30-ish.

I have no interest in body-building, though, so I am definitely not shredding up and rebuilding as much muscle tissue as I gather a bodybuilder would.

Tweety's quite right; nutrition is not one perfect ideal. You've found what works for you; obviously other people have found grains and fruits are a part of their diet that makes them feel healthy.


Thank you very much for your input.

I agree that 25-30% calories from protein isn't a reasonable goal for most vegans, but some people do benefit from this much protein, including: people on low-calorie diets, people who lift weights but don't do hours of cardio, people who have food cravings tied to protein (it doesn't feel like a meal unless it has 30g protein), etc.  If you need to eat 1500 calories a day to lose weight and still get 100g protein to be able to keep your muscles and recover from workouts, you either need animal protein or to cut out low-protein foods like grains and fruits.

My interest in starting this thread wasn't to review the on-going debate over how much protein everyone needs, but to review the micro-nutrient value of grains and fruits - vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, etc.  If I eat a diet rich in vegetables and legumes, as described above, am I at any risk of missing anything by avoiding fruits and grains (while also avoiding all animal products)?

(The line between "fruit" and "vegetable" gets blurry sometimes - there's the botanical definition (tomato==fruit) and the popular definition (tomato==vegetable).  What I really mean is only eating the low-calorie / high-protein-ratio parts of plants, while avoiding the overly starchy / sweet / oily ones.)


In that case, you're probably okay; but to be honest, you might just be better off plugging your current diet into a site like FitDay or NutritionData, and seeing if any glaring holes in your nutrition show. Fruits can be good for some trace minerals, and grains are good for amino acids and B-vitamins, just off the top of my head, but I'd think that by tracking your own diet, you could do a better job of working out exactly what you need from what food groups than by asking a general question on an open forum like this. I hope that doesn't come across as confrontational; I just mean that individually-tailored dietary plans are probably not one of the strengths of this kind of website.

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