Does a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet Have Enough Protein?

protein-drawing The Science About Protein Will Astonish You and May Save Your Life!

How can a diet comprised entirely of whole, plant-based foods provide sufficient protein? After all, isn’t meat almost synonymous with protein? Isn’t your body structure built mostly from protein? Isn’t protein the source from which you make all your enzymes and hormones? Further, animal protein is proven to grow bodies bigger and faster. Read on to have your protein paradigm busted!

Protein’s Beginnings

The vital importance of meat for protein has been taught to us by the meat industry for a hundred years . That industry has even dictated to the government the necessity of putting meat into the food pyramid, the perceived cornerstone of health. Our parents and grandparents drilled this into our heads. How can anyone possibly argue with motherhood, apple pie, and meat?

Let’s look at the facts now. Protein was discovered by Gerhard Mulder in 1839. In the late 1800’s Carl Voit performed some experiments and determined that a man’s need for protein is 52 grams. That is equivalent to about 8-10 percent of total calories consumed. We know today this is more than enough. Yet Voit later recommended more than twice that amount. So, protein’s beginnings got off to a big, glorious, and excessive start.

How Much Protein Do We Need?

In the 1940’s science determined that our actual requirement for protein was 0.5-0.6 gram per kilogram of body weight. This is equivalent to about 5-6 percent of total calories consumed. This was done by measuring Nitrogen losses, since Nitrogen is mainly consumed through protein ingestion. This unchanged value is called the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), formerly, the Minimum Daily Requirement (MDR).

Since individual people vary in their protein requirements, more was added to arrive at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. That is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). With this amount, 98 percent of people will have sufficient protein. The preferred way to re-state this RDA is 8-10 percent of total calories. Therefore, for 70 years, sound science has shown how much protein is sufficient.

Think of the time in your life when you were growing the fastest. It was your very first year when your weight doubled. You drank God’s perfect food, mother’s milk. Look up mother’s milk on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26, and you will find that protein is just 6 percent of total calories. That is all! Yet the average adult is gorging on 17 percent.

Whole Food Plant-based Diet Provides Exact Needs!

Now, back to your question. Can a whole plant food diet provide the RDA of protein? The answer is yes. In fact, a varied diet of whole plants provides exactly 8-10 percent! You can determine this for yourself by taking your favorite list of plants and using the National Nutrient Database. Add up the protein contents and calories and make the calculation.

You might then ask, “Well, how do you make sure you get the required amounts of the nine essential amino acids if all you eat are plants?” Science has answered that definitively. When one eats a varied diet of whole plants it is impossible to not get the required amounts of each of these essential amino acids. In order to be lacking, you would have to hand pick one particularly weak plant and eat exclusively that. Science has shown that consumption of a variety of plant proteins provides every one of the essential amino acids in surplus.

Think of the largest land animals: African and Asian elephants, white rhinos, hippos, gaur (largest cattle), giraffe, black rhino, wild Asian water buffalo and draft horses. These are all herbivores. They eat zero animal protein, and yet they have tremendous muscles and energy needs.

More Protein Than RDA Is Unhealthy!

Further, you might ask, “Why shouldn’t I eat more than the RDA, just to be absolutely sure?” The only practical way you can consume more than the RDA of protein is to consume animals. The typical diet that includes animals contains 11-22 percent protein per Dr. T. Colin Campbell, coauthor of The China Study. The meat industry would have you eat 35 percent! But, there are many problems resulting from such choices.

The first problem is that animal proteins have qualities that cause our bodies to grow bigger faster. Now, you are a fully grown adult. Tell me, exactly which part of your body you want to grow bigger faster? At this point you are just supposed to maintain the status quo of your body and replace old cells. Unfortunately, the only parts of your body that are growing are the cancer nodules. Are they what you want to grow bigger faster? If not, then maybe you don’t want to eat animal protein.

Animal proteins increase IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), a hormone associated with higher cancer growth rates. Science has clearly shown that animal proteins enhance the initiation phase of cancers as well as the promotion phase of cancers. Research shows that protein above 10 percent of calories causes early cancers to grow, whereas, plant proteins, even at higher levels, do not make cancers grow.

The second problem of consuming excess protein is that you will not be getting needed nutrients that are only available from sufficient quantities of plants. Eating more animals means you will not be eating as many plants. That means you will be lacking in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and tens of thousands of phytonutrients including antioxidants only available in plants.

The third problem of consuming excess protein is that you will also be getting the bonus of what comes along with animals, namely excess cholesterol, fat, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics, carcinogens (formed from cooking animals), heavy metal toxins and the ever-present bacterial contamination. Are those important constituents to you, or would you rather avoid them?

Diseases Associated With Animal Proteins

As a result of the above, Atherosclerosis severity is five fold higher with animal proteins. Kidney stones increase dramatically with higher animal protein levels. Hip fracture (osteoporosis) among women increases with increasing animal protein. Higher consumption of animal protein initiates Type I diabetes. It causes childhood allergies. Furthermore, it is associated with cataract formation, rheumatoid arthritis, and digestive disorders. Animal protein makes Alzheimer’s disease three times more likely. The list goes on and on.

In summary, not only do you get sufficient protein from a varied, whole plant food diet, you avoid getting too much. If you eat even small amounts of animal protein, you are getting too much protein, making you susceptible to the above diseases.

Let me ask you, how many of your family, friends, acquaintances have ever suffered from kwashiorkor disease? Have you visited patients in the kwashiorkor ward of your hospital? You haven’t because kwashiorkor means protein deficiency and it doesn’t exist in America. Now, how many people have you known who have suffered from the above diseases like heart disease and cancer associated with animal protein excess?

Don’t Destroy Your Liver and Kidneys

Protein consumption above 8-10 percent (the RDA) is clearly excessive for 98 percent of us. The average person needs only 5-6 percent. Your body must process this excess to get rid of it. Your liver and kidneys are the hard working organs that do this. This heavy workload may be the reason that up to 25 percent of Americans may have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, per American Liver Foundation. Could this stress be the reason that 26 percent of the population over the age of 60 has stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD) per NHANES study?

So, please forget your original question and answer these far more relevant questions, “How will you get rid of your surplus protein, and how will you avoid the diseases that will likely come your way?”

The renowned Dr. John McDougall discusses this topic in a 3 minute video here.


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