By far, the most frequently asked question I get when I discuss the fact that I have adopted a whole food, plant-based diet is “Where do you get your protein?” The short answer, of course, is “From plants”. To anyone who believes that a whole-food vegan diet is protein deficient, however, that answer is not likely to change minds.
As my husband likes to say, “How many people do you know that ever have had a diagnosable problem due to lack of protein? Now, how many people do you know that have ever had diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, kidney stones, osteoporosis? We are picking the wrong battle.”
According to Dr. John McDougall, the World Health Organization recommends that adults get 5% of their calories as protein. You can look at the protein content of different foods here, but to summarize, it is impossible not to get enough protein from a plant-based diet as long as calorie intake is adequate. Find someone you know who is not consuming enough calories. Even the lowliest fruit or vegetable contains roughly 10% protein. Even broccoli contains more protein per 100 calories than steak.
Another way to state protein requirements is by gram. The RDA (recommended dietary allowances) for protein is .8 grams per kilogram. (On average, adults need about .5 grams, but the RDA adds .3 grams for safety.) A 155lb. adult needs 56.36 grams of protein a day.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Americans are consuming way more protein than the recommended amount, in some cases twice the amount.
O.K, so what, you ask? So what if I eat protein bars, put protein powders in my smoothies, and eat high-protein Greek yogurt? Here’s what T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist, and author of The China Study, states here flatly, “….in spite of what millions of dollars of meat and dairy industry advertising would have you believe, it is excess, not inadequate protein, that is the threat to health. The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine goes into more detail about the health problems linked to consumption of too much protein, including osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers.
Just google “protein fortified”, and look at the astonishing number of foods that have been processed to contain more protein. Why do all these foods have protein added? Because market research shows that if protein is on the label, people will buy it.