Where do you get your protein?
There is this big, blundering misconception in society that ‘protein’ is an animal product. Many blindly believe that protein comes from 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 some 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. Especially plants. Plants are made of protein.
Carnivores obtain their protein by eating smaller animals that have obtained their protein from plants, which is where protein is made. Plants are the purest form of protein with plant foods like hemp and spirulina ranking as the most dense sources of protein on Earth.
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 present in all fruits and vegetables and is especially abundant in grains, beans, legumes, green vegetables and nuts. Fortunately, these are foods you should be focused on consuming daily to maintain overall health and wellbeing, so protein is very easy to acquire without much thought.
On the flipside, over-consumption of animal protein is the leading cause of death in the Western world. Heart disease, diabetes, strokes, Alzheimers and some cancers are direct outcomes 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. There’s a compounding effect that the more meat included in your diet, the less room you leave for high-fibre vegetables.
So while many are concerning themselves greatly with getting enough protein, in reality most adults in the Western world are eating far above the recommended intake of protein. What we really need to be worried about is the epidemic of fibre deficiency. While less than 3% of Americans have issues getting enough protein in their daily diet, less then 3% of Americans get enough fibre. (Source.)
Today’s average meat eater consumes at least double the recommended protein intake. If vegans are consuming less protein than meat eaters, that is a fantastic thing.
This is why vegans are documented to live a decade longer than people on a standard Western diet. Our bodies are operating at maximum efficiency when we’re not bogging them down with animal protein that we struggle to digest as a species.
Since the World Health Organisation has finally agreed with four decades of scientific evidence that concludes meat causes cancer in humans, this can't be ignored anymore.
There’s also a myth that animal derived protein gives us energy and therefore vegans are weak and tired all the time. But this one certainly isn’t grounded in any science. Protein does not give a human body energy. Carbs do that. Your body uses protein to build things like bone, tissue and blood. If you consume excess protein beyond your requirements, your body has no choice but to convert it into glucose to store the energy, anyway.
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
Recommended protein brand:
Vegan Protein Powder