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Kathy Freston: Conscious Eating, Okay, But Where (On Earth) Do You Get Your Protein?

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  • CyberBrook
    Conscious Eating, Okay, But Where (On Earth) Do You Get Your Protein?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1 8:57 AM
      Conscious Eating, Okay, But Where (On Earth) Do You Get Your Protein?

      Kathy Freston
      Posted May 31, 2008 | 09:58 PM (EST)


      When I tell people that I'm a vegan, the most popular question, by far,
      inevitably follows: "But, how do you get enough protein?"

      There it is again, I think, the meat industry's most potent weapon
      against vegetarianism--the protein myth. And it is just that--a myth.

      In fact, humans need only 10 percent of the calories we consume to be
      from protein. Athletes and pregnant women need a little more, but if
      you're eating enough calories from a varied plant based diet, it's close
      to impossible to not to get enough.

      The way Americans obsess about protein, you'd think protein deficiency
      was the number one health problem in America. Of course it's not--it's
      not even on the list of the ailments that doctors are worried about in
      America or any other countries where basic caloric needs are being met.

      What is on the list? Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity--diseases
      of affluence. Diseases linked to eating animal products. According to
      the American Dietetic Association,
      which looked at all of the science on vegetarian diets and found not
      just that they're healthy, but that they "provide health benefits in the
      prevention and treatment of certain diseases."

      They continue: "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets
      are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during
      pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence... Vegetarians
      have been reported to have lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians,
      as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians
      also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and
      lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon

      Dr. Dean Ornish writes of his Eat More, Weigh Less
      vegetarian diet--the one diet that has passed peer-review for taking
      weight off and keeping it off for more than 5 years--that in addition to
      being the one scientifically proven weight loss plan that works
      long-term, it "may help to prevent a wide variety of other illnesses
      including breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, colon cancer,
      lung cancer, lymphoma, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and so on...."

      So when people ask me about protein, I explain that protein is not a
      problem on a vegan diet, that the real problems that are plaguing us in
      the West can be addressed in part with a vegetarian diet, and that I get
      my protein the same way everyone else does--I eat!

      Beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, and whole grains are packed with protein.
      So are all vegetables as a caloric percentage, though they don't have
      enough calories to sustain most people as a principal source of
      sustenance. And these protein sources have some excellent benefits that
      animal protein does not--they contain plenty of fiber and complex
      carbohydrates, where meat has none. That's right: Meat has no complex
      carbs at all, and no fiber. Plant proteins are packed with these
      essential nutrients.

      Plus, since plant-based protein sources don't contain cholesterol or
      high amounts of saturated fat, they are much better for you than meat,
      eggs, and dairy products.

      It is also worth noting the very strong link between animal protein and
      a few key diseases, including cancer and osteoporosis.

      According to Dr. Ornish
      <http://www.webmd.com/content/pages/1/3080_365.htm> (this may be the
      most interesting link in this article, by the way--it's worth reading
      the entire entry), "high-protein foods, particularly excessive animal
      protein, dramatically increase the risk of breast cancer, prostate
      cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses. In the short run, they
      may also cause kidney problems, loss of calcium in the bones, and an
      unhealthy metabolic state called ketosis in many people."

      The cancer connection is spelled out at length in a fantastic book by
      Cornell scientist T. Colin Campbell, called The China Study
      Basically, there is overwhelming scientific evidence to implicate that
      animal protein consumption causes cancer.

      And just a few quick anecdotal points:

      . Olympian Carl Lewis has said that his best year of track competition
      was the first year that he ate a vegan diet (he is still a strong
      proponent of vegan diets for athletes).

      . Strength trainer Mike Mahler
      <http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler53.htm> says, "Becoming a vegan
      had a profound effect on my training. ... [M]y bench press excelled past
      315 pounds, and I noticed that I recovered much faster. My body fat also
      went down, and I put on 10 pounds of lean muscle in a few months."

      . Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke
      <http://www.robertcheeke.com/?page=article_bodybuildingbasics> advises,
      "The basics for nutrition are consuming large amounts of fresh green
      vegetables and a variety of fruits, to load yourself up with vibrant
      vitamins and minerals."

      A few other vegans, all of whom sing the praises of the diet for their
      athletic performance: Ultimate fighter Mac Danzig
      <http://www.macdanzig.net/>, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek
      <http://www.scottjurek.com/>, Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Neshek
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Neshek>, Atlanta Hawks Guard Salim
      and Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Tony Gonzalez

      And let's not forget about tennis star Martina Navratilova, six-time
      Ironman winner Dave Scott, four-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, or Stan
      Price, the world-record holder in bench press. They are just a few of
      the successful vegetarian athletes.

      Basically, vegans and vegetarians needn't fret about protein, but many
      Americans do need to worry about their weight, heart disease, cancer,
      and other ailments--many of which can be addressed by healthier eating,
      including a vegan or vegetarian diet.

      Vegetarians and vegans get all the nutrients our bodies need from
      plants, and will thus, according to the science, be more likely to
      maintain a healthy weight and stave off a variety of ailments, from
      heart disease to cancer.

      For answers to other popular questions about conscious eating, please
      check out my previous post on the topic here

      Happy eating!

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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