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The Protein Myth

May 10, 2012

There are so many myths that meat-eating-vegan-haters have constructed over the years about why a plant-based diet is bad for you—it’s just straight up laughable.  But the greatest myth of all is the all too familiar question “Where do you get your protein?” The question is so ingrained into the consciousness of the American public, I can remember asking it myself when I was young.  The best part is that most people who ask that question don’t even know what protein is.

As meat loving Americans, we are obsessed with protein. Back in the days, athletes used to eat steaks before competitions because they thought it would improve their performance.  Shiiiit, I used to eat raw eggs after working out because, like Rocky, I thought I needed it to build muscle.  There is this idea that without animal protein, you will not only perform poorly, you may just wither away and die.  Well I’ve been vegan for sixteen years…and I’m thriving.

As Americans we usually get too much protein, not too little (remember that extra protein is stored in the body as fat).

So what is a protein? In layman’s terms,  proteins are made of chains of amino acids, which are found in all foods, not just meat and dairy. Of all the different amino acids, only eight are essential, meaning we need to consume them in food because our bodies do not produce them. As all plant proteins contain the full array of essential amino acids—albeit in different amounts—plant-based foods become entirely sufficient suppliers of protein when you go vegan.

Here are some amazing sources of vegan protein: dark leafy greens like kale, chard, mustard, and even Romaine lettuce; hemp seeds or rice protein powder, nuts, beans, seeds, and superfoods like spirulina and chlorella.  Typically, one needs about 0.4 grams of protein per day for every pound of healthy body weight. Some people need more protein, some less, but in any case, plant-based foods can certainly and easily fulfill anyone’s dietary needs.  If you start your day with a hemp powder smoothie, have a bowl of lentil soup for lunch, and a big salad topped with spirulina and pumpkin seeds and a side of quinoa, you’re good. On some days you might consume more, on some days, less—the key is adding new foods to your weekly repertoire. Let’s not forget where Popeye the Sailor Man got his knock-out power—spinach!!!

If you don’t think that you can get diesel from a plant-based diet, think again. Just ask Iron Mike Tyson—vegan.  Olympic medalist Carl Lewis—vegan. Mixed martial arts fighters Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch…the list of vegan superheroes goes on and on until the break of dawn…myth dispelled.

The protein-deficiency myth has pushed been by the meat and dairy industries to instill fear of veganism, sell crap, and make us doubt that nature has not done enough to nourish us with greens, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.  Seriously?  Let’s not forget that the largest most powerful animals on the planet are herbivores. Gorillas, giraffes, hippos, horses and rhinos—WHAT!  I personally feel strong as an ox—oh snap! Oxen are vegan, too!

There are so many deficiency worries when it comes to the vegan diet, I can only think that most people just take for granted that the mainstream information they’ve been fed their whole lives is accurate. Proof? The other common questions are always the same: “Where do you get your calcium?” “Where do you get your iron?”  “Where do you get your Omega 3s?” And of course the only one that’s actually justifiable: “Where do you get your rockstar clear skin?”

Damn, I feel good…but that’s just how you feel when you’re vegan!!!

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