Where do you get your protein?
There is a terrible misconception that ‘protein’ is an animal product. Many blindly believe that protein = animals, and therefore vegetarian diets must be low in protein. This of course is not grounded in science, and stems only from the food industry commonly referring to animal bodies as the protein component of a meal. Yes, animal bodies contain protein, but they are not protein themselves, nor are they the best way to consume protein in your diet.
Proteins are organic compound molecules made up of amino acids. All living organisms are made up of strands of these molecules. Which means all plants contain protein.
So, do vegans get enough protein?
The answer is that most vegans eat far above the recommended daily intake of protein. If we’ve eaten enough calories, we’ve eaten enough protein.
Protein is abundant in grains, beans, legumes, green vegetables and nuts. And if you are not consuming a great variety of these foods in your diet, you are headed for a world of health complications so protein is the least of your worries!
Over-consumption of protein is a leading cause of death of Americans and Australians. Cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failure are direct results of consuming animal products in your daily diet. Since the 1970s, scientists have repeatedly linked the consumption of animal derived protein with early death, because our herbivorous digestive systems are not able to digest and absorb nutrients the same way as say a lion would. Humans are designed for high fibre diets (fruit and veg), so when we consume low fibre foods (meat and dairy) they take too long to pass through our system and our bodies are over-exposed to the toxicity of these foods and we develop cancers.
There’s also the compounding effect that the more meat you include in your diet, the less room you leave for necessary vegetables. So while you tell yourself “it’s just one small serve”, you’re actually limiting your intake of other nutrient rich foods thatdecrease health complications, so that creates a compounded risk of cancer and disease.
Today’s average meat eater consumes double the recommended protein intake, which has led us to our current obesity epidemic. If vegans are consuming less protein than meat eaters, that is a fantastic thing. This is why we’re rumoured to live a decade longer than the average person. Our bodies are operating at maximum efficiency when we’re not bogging them down with toxic foods we struggle to process.
Since the World Health Organisation has finally found the guts to admit four decades of scientific evidence should be valued above meat industry profits, this can’t be ignored anymore!
There’s also a myth that animal derived protein gives us energy, but this one really isn’t grounded in any science. Protein does not give a human body energy. Carbs do that. In fact, supplementing carbs for protein as a major energy source can inhibit your ability to repair muscles after a work out, which decreases the benefit of exercise and your ability to gain muscle. This is why you’ll see professional cyclists munching down bananas before a race, instead of a slab of meat.
Many, many, many athletes go vegan to improve their performance. Serena Williams, championed as the greatest tennis player of all time and often body shamed for being too muscular and masculine, achieved this title as a RAW VEGAN. Meaning she consumed all her protein through uncooked plant foods. Would you call Serena a weak, protein deficient vegan?
Now, I understand changing the food you’ve been raised on can be daunting. But your parents aren’t always right.
And I understand most gym goers have been told you need to eat meat to get gains. But our knowledge of human nutrition has advanced, and there are just too many top vegan athletes for that myth to carry on.
If you’re looking to start consuming more protein from plant sources, here are a range of links to get you started. But please, do your own research. 10% of Australians are now vegan, so there are vegan-friendly nutritionists and personal trainers all over Australia to give you guidance in choosing a healthier, eco-friendly and more ethical alternative to your old meat heavy diet.
Protein in the Vegan Diet
10 Vegan Sources of Protein
12 Complete Proteins Vegetarians Need to Know About
10 Best-Tasting Vegan Protein Powders
Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness
21 Meals With Tons of Protein and No Meat