The Importance of Protein

The Importance of Protein

To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.
– Confucius

Cheeese and other ProteinsA question vegetarians are commonly asked is “What about protein?” To that I can confidently answer that many of the largest and strongest animals on the planet are vegetarians. The elephant, the horse, the cow and bull, the rhino all manage to get sufficient protein from vegetarian sources. Why not humans? The idea that protein must come from meat sources is a marketing myth. The idea that protein is required for endurance and strength is also a marketing myth. Here’s why:

  • Cheese, peanuts, and lentils contain more protein per ounce than hamburger, steak, or pork.
  • All of the 22 “essential amino acids” formed from the breakdown of protein in the digestive system are contained either singly or in combination from vegetarian sources.
  • A 100 gram portion of meat contains only 20 grams of protein, while the same 100 grams of cheese or lentils contains 25 grams and 100 grams of soybeans contains 34 grams of protein.
  • Although meat provides less protein, it certainly costs a great deal more money. Another advantage: you will save thousands of dollars over your lifetime by switching to a vegetarian diet.

Paneer_MakhaniA study by Dr. Fred Stare of Harvard University in the 1970s made an extensive comparison between the protein intake of both meat eaters and vegetarians. The study concluded that each group exceeded twice its requirement for every essential amino acid.

In fact, Americans eat dangerously elevated levels of protein, more than 20% of their diet, and twice the levels recommended by the World Health Organization. Too much protein actually reduced the body’s capacity to use and create energy. Studies at Yale University by Dr. Irving Fisher reduced meat eaters’ protein intake by 20% and correspondingly, their energy efficiency increased by 33%.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition estimates we need only two and a half percent from our daily intake. The World Health Organization sets requirements at four and a half.

Some in the scientific community are concerned with these statements. When asked who needs the extra allowances, Dr. David Rueben replied, “The people who sell meat, fish, cheese, eggs, chicken and all the other high prestige and expensive sources of protein. Raising the amount of protein you eat raises their income by 30%. It also increases the amount of protein in the sewers and septic tanks of your neighborhood as you urinate away everything that you cannot use for the day. It also deprives the starving children of the world of the protein that would save their lives. Incidentally, it makes you pay 30% of your already bloated food bill for protein you do not use. If you are an average family, it takes you $40 a month to unnecessarily pump up your protein intake. That is another $36 billion a year into the pockets of the protein producers.”

To sum it all up, this is all HYPE: A vegetarian diet has plenty of protein from common plant food sources. To name just a few protein values:

  • Spinach …………….49%
  • Broccoli …………….45%
  • Lettuce ………………34%
  • Cabbage ……………22%
  • Potatoes …………….11%
  • Wheat germ ……..31%
  • Oatmeal …………….15%
  • Tofu ………………….. 43%
  • Lentils ……………….29%