At some point or another, every vegan will be asked what he or she does for protein. It's a fact of life, as inevitable as daylight savings or taxes. It doesn't tend to be a popular question
among vegans, mostly because we get tired of answering and also because the question is often laced with a touch of incredulity and concern, as if at any moment we might begin wasting in front of
the inquirer's uneasy eyes.
I've handled the question with varying degrees of elegance. Back when I first went vegan, I handled it defensively. "Protein is a really overstated nutrient," I'd allege; or, "protein deficiency
has never been reported in this country"; or "broccoli actually has much more protein than chicken." (That last bit is totally untrue.)
Nowadays, I actually enjoy getting asked "the protein question" because it gives me a chance to talk about nutrition (which I love) and because I can admit that it's a perfectly reasonable
question. Most of us grew up with the standard protein/starch/vegetable trio on our plates. And most of the time -- unless your mom or dad was a vegetarian -- that protein was of the animal
variety. It's not too outrageous to wonder what vegans do instead.