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Why Go Veggie?

Protein - The Big Lie

The biggest obstacle to those wanting to Go Veggie is protein and the worry about how to get it.

Grown men who know not a jot about nutrition, guys who wouldn't know how to burn toast, can be reduced to quivering wrecks by The Protein Fear.

"Ohmigawd, ohmigawd... where am I going to get my protein??", they whinge as you offer them a meat-less meal. The "I can't eat this" argument is so endemic in meat-eaters because, on their granny's knee, they've been told if you don't get enough protein all your teeth will fall out, your muscles will collapes and quite possible your bones will spontaneously shatter too.

Protein, Mr. Can't Burn Toast will tell you, has to be taken in huge slabs to provide all the energy to read his newspaper in front of the television.

The truth is that, far from worring about not getting enough protein, the aware amongst us should by rights be getting catatonically fretful that everyday we over-dose protein.

"The best advice to anyone worring about getting enough protein is to forget it", sayd Dr. Neal Barnard, associate director at the Institute for Disease Prevention at Washington University's School of Medicine.

Dr. Barnard points out that as many vegetables contain up to 10% protein anyway, a veggie dish provides more than ample for our needs. But the danger with a high-protein [misinterpreted as high-need] diet, such as a meaty one, is two fold. First. you risk kindey disease - higher intakes of protein cause the kidneys to work harder, wearing 'em out sooner.

Second, you risk osteoporosis [your bones falling to bits] as high-protein intake causes calcium to be lost when you pee.

But diseases aside, the simple truth about protein is that we eat too bloody much of it. The body loses about eight tenths of an ounce of protein a day through just existing. To prevent protein deficiency, you only have to eat about one and a half pounds of protein a month - some people eat that a day, with their cheeseburgers and shakes.

It gets worse. Protein is the hardest substance for the body to break down [the easiest fruit]. When you eat it takes around 25 hours for the food to be fully digested but when you eat meat - for your protein - it takes around 50 hours for the food to be fully digested and pass through you. Rather than gaining energy through eating protein in meat, you are losing energy through the extra effort needed to break it down.

It gets worse still. As your body only needs a couple of ounces or so of protein a day, any more than that is not absorbed or worked off but is stored - as weight.

It's simple - eat meat for protein, get fat. The choice is yours. Geoff Baker

From Club Sandwich Spring 1991 Issue #57, "Why Go Veggie?"
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