Where Do You Get Your Protein?
-> February 20th, 2012 <-
Where do you get your protein? That is the big question I hear the most when I talk about my diet. Everyone becomes an expert on protein the minute you mention you don't eat meat or dairy!! I get my protein from the food I eat!! Where do you get yours? If you're under the mistaken belief that only meat contains protein, then tell me, where does a cow get it's protein? And how much protein do you need, any way? Do you even know?
Nature says you only need about 5% of your calories to come from protein. Okay, Mother Nature didn't tell me this directly, nor do I have some mystical connection to her that you don't... But nature provides the perfect food for growing infants, doesn't it? Human breast milk contains about 5% protein. And is there any point in our lives when we're growing faster than as an infant? No. The World Health Organization also says you need about 5% of your calories to come from protein. 6% if you're pregnant, just to be safe. How does this compare to the protein found in non-meat foods? Let's see!!
Potatoes - 8%, Sweet Potatoes - 7%, White Rice - 7%, Brown Rice - 9%,
Oatmeal - 15%, Corn - 11%, Spinach - 51%, Onions - 32%, Lettuce - 40%,
Kidney Beans -- 27%, and so on, and so on.
The bottom line is this... If you're eating enough food to survive, you're eating enough protein, even if you eat no meat or dairy. We've been sold such a load of bull (pun intended) by the meat and dairy industry. We've been taught, and we believe that you're not eating healthy if you're not eating meat and dairy. Yet entire populations of people live and have lived in various places on earth for thousands of years and have thrived on diets that included very little meat or dairy. Our own children, at the point in their lives when they're growing the fastest, thrive on diets of 5% protein, found in the breast milk of their mothers.
There are quite a few "expert" sources in our world who differ with this opinion. Many of them medical and health institutions we've been taught to trust and respect. But there are quite a few who agree. Among them, the American Dietetic Association. The following is taken from their website.
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.
Who do you trust? For me, the clincher is the fact that human breast milk is only 5% protein. I'll trust nature over any of the modern experts.
For a much more thorough and better written article on the subject I recommend the McDougall Newsletter, April 2007.