The top question most vegetarians are asked is: "Where do you get your protein?"
The first question from people who are considering a vegetarian diet is: "How will I get enough protein?"
The protein myth is so widely accepted in our culture that even vegetarians believe it!
1. Protein is the most important nutrient in our diet.
2. Protein from meat, fish, poultry, milk and eggs is superior to the incomplete protein from plant sources.
3. Meat is the best protein source, and other foods have little or no protein.
4. A vegetarian diet doesn't have enough protein, and is therefore unhealthy.
Over the last few decades, widespread practical experience, traditional knowledge, and hundreds of scientific health studies all tell a different story about vegetarian protein.
1. Too much protein is as harmful as too little, and is linked with shorter life expectancy, increased cancer and heart disease risk, widespread obesity and diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney stress, and bad digestion
2. High protein-diets bring about temporary weight-loss, at the expense of overall health, and people quickly regain weight once they return to a normal diet
3. A varied vegetarian diet with a balance of protein, fats & carbohydrates, and adequate calorie intake provides more than enough protein
4. Complete animal protein is not superior to complete protein from more than one plant source – they give the same result in different ways
5. Protein from plant sources doesn't include excess calories from fat, toxic residues, or an overabundance of protein, which stresses the kidneys
Nothing in our modern human diet has been as misunderstood, and as misrepresented, as protein. It's considered by most people as the foundation of nutrition --- and essential to life. The importance of eating enough protein, primarily from animal sources, is drilled into us daily from childhood.
It's been estimated that the average person in this country eats two - six times more protein, usually from animals, than is needed for good nutrition. At it's most extreme, our protein fixation has led to the popularity of high-protein low-carb weight loss diets, condemned by doctors and nutritionists from coast to coast.
The development of factory farms and modern meat processing plants, aided by refrigeration, along with economic rail and truck shipping, made meat and dairy products widely available and affordable. The results, for our health, the environment, and world hunger, have been disastrous. Before the late 1800's most of the world didn't eat a lot of meat, or dairy, as there just wasn't that much available for ordinary people.
Except in myths of the Wild West, the average person didn't have a horse and gun to run around shooting things to eat, or a herd of cows to kill. Mostly they worked pretty hard, for not much money, and didn't have that much time.
Since the early 20th century, a meat and dairy centered diet has been heavily promoted as the answer to dietary deficiencies, following the flawed logic that since we're mammals, and our bodies are made with protein, then we need to eat mammals in order to get enough protein and maintain our bodies. That cannibalistic logic doesn't hold up under the most casual examination.
Unfortunately most of recent human history is based on flawed logic. And we tend to rewrite history about every fifty years to harmonize with the current world view.
The world would be a much kinder, healthier place today if people had gone with greens, grains and beans instead of milk and meat as the solution to dietary deficiencies. A few people did – they adopted a vegetarian diet, and their dietary protein comes mainly from plants.