Getting Enough Protein

The argument that one needs to eat animal foods to receive sufficient protein is perhaps the biggest nutritional myth.

It is not true that vegetarians have a harder time meeting their protein needs. Highly absorbable protein is plentiful in the vegetable kingdom as long as one eats sufficient calories derived from whole, unprocessed foods. What’s more, actual protein needs per day are appreciably less than is generally thought. Daily protein intake has been set artificially high by biased medical experts hired by the meat lobby, who have in turn influenced governmental recommendations in favor of higher protein intake. The World Health Organization recommends only 25 grams of protein per day. The American Meat Board recommends 75 grams, contributing to excess protein consumption, which is linked to increased incidence of degenerative disease.

Amino acids make up proteins, and those derived from plant foods have the same biological value as meat-sourced amino acids. Amino acids are amino acids, no matter where they come from. For several decades it was erroneously taught that it was necessary to eat a combination of foods made up of the nine essential amino acids at one meal (e.g., combining rice with beans or nuts with dairy). We now know that this is not necessary, as our bodies have an amino acid pool that combines amino acids derived from previous meals to make complete proteins. As long as one eats enough calories drawn from whole plant foods, getting enough protein from a vegetarian diet will not be an issue.

While we’re on the subject of protein, those who eat meat as their primary source of protein typically consume unhealthy amounts of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. High saturated fat and cholesterol intakes have been definitively identified as primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in modern societies worldwide. Compared with meat eaters, lifelong vegetarian have a 24 percent lower incidence of coronary heart disease – and vegans have a 57 percent lower rate! There is only one source of dietary cholesterol: animal foods.

Vegetarian always ask about getting enough protein. But I don’t know any nutrition expert who can plan a diet of natural foods resulting in a protein deficiency, so long as you’re not deficient in calories. You need only five or six percent of total calories in protein … and it is practically impossible to get below nine percent in ordinary diets.

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