THE PROTEIN MYTH (Updated excerpt from The Raw Cure: Healing Beyond Medicine)
There is an antiquated misconception circulating around animal products, protein, and the vegan lifestyle. For some strange reason most people carry the belief that animals are meat, and meat is protein, so when they confront those who choose to eat plant-based, they always want to ask, "Where do you get your protein?" The fact that so many people are clueless about what protein is, and have no idea where protein is derived from, displays how brainwashed society has become, and how warped our nutritional knowledge truly is.
Asking a vegan where they get their protein is like asking a tree where it gets oxygen. It should be common sense for all of us to know that protein comes from plants. For those who choose to eat animals thinking this is an optimal protein source, they often fail to acknowledge that the vegetarian animals they are eating receive their protein from eating grasses and various plant-derived foods. This is why cows, gorillas, horses, and land animals are naturally lean and strong. In fact, the only creature on land that is fat and lethargic happens to be the human species. Interestingly enough, this is the only naturally frugivorous and herbivorous land mammal that chooses to disobey their anatomical make-up and eat flesh. As a result, we are afflicted with chronic disease, premature death, and unnatural health conditions.
To avoid sounding foolish, rather than asking those who eat plants (which are abundant in protein) where they get their protein, we should question meat eaters about where they get their antioxidants, carbohydrates, fiber, phytonutrients, and undamaged amino acids. By eating animal-based foods, the diet is void of all of these essential minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients.
To clarify, animals are not simply meat. They are not inanimate objects. The flesh of an animal is also not protein. While the tissues are constructed of proteins, these are not readily available proteins that we can ingest and magically convert to the proteins we need for our species to function. Animal proteins are not highly bioavailable for humans, meaning we expend more energy metabolizing them than we receive from eating them. Not only are we taxing our digestive and eliminative organs by choosing to eat animals to obtain protein, but we are also creating more of a protein deficiency because we have an excess of the wrong type of protein in our system. This is evident in the alarmingly high percentage of people who are obese. They are protein deficient because they are eating too much of the wrong proteins. As their eliminative organs get backed up further, they gain weight, develop acidosis and toxemia, and literally start to rot internally because they continue to add toxins faster than their bodies can process and expel them. A 2014 study conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) found that in terms of cancer risk, a diet high in animal proteins may be as bad as smoking. Researchers found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age will make those who choose to be omnivorous four times more likely to die from cancer than those on a low-protein diet. This is clearly not the protein we want in our system.
In the animal kingdom, naturally, there is a custom of showing respect for those who move on by celebrating their lives. When other humans die, we traditionally arrange funeral services for them to honor their lives. When elephants pass, the rest of the herd will conduct a cermony to appreciate their loved ones. With animal agriculture, and the perverse cycle of killing and eating animals, billions of chickens, cows, fish, lamb, pigs, and turkeys are not being honored after they die. Rather than receiving a proper burial, we choose to stuff their dead corpses inside of our bellies. Essentially, we use our bodies as graveyeards for these animals. Our gut becomes a burial ground. This explains why we generate body odors and bad breath, and rely on chewing gum, colognes, deodorants, and perfumes to mask the treacherous aroma coming from our insides. Do you know where bad breath and body odors develop? Bad breath and body odors come from a variety of compounds, including bacteria, infected tonsils and glands, cancer, yeast, and an overload of toxins and/or foreign substances including those along the alimentary tract. Putrefactive bacteria from the meat, dairy, eggs, and other chemicals that the standard American overloads their bodies with are problematic for the eliminative and cardiovascular systems. They also leave behind a toxic residue. This residue helps to create odors and taints their vitality, slowing and dulling the body systems. Even the strongest chewing gum and heaviest deodorant will not get to the root of this problem and cease the odors from returning. These residues and putrefactive bacteria can also create the environment for illness and disease. As we transition to a vegan diet, we realize that our breath improves and we no longer need deodorants. We freshen up internally. If an odor subsists, we can simply use essential oils as an alternative to deodorant, or go for the EO organic deodorant.
In the book, Diet For A Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappe uses the analogy, “Eating meat to get protein is about as efficient as paddling a canoe with a chopstick.” This is not a fallacy. Meat is a very poor source for the amino acids we need to form protein. Once cooked, the proteins in meat become denatured, and the heat-sensitive amino acids are damaged. Because we require insulin to transport amino acids into the cells for the purpose of creating proteins, we also increase our risk for developing diabetes as we overload on animal proteins and saturate our bodies with refined sugars. Glucose is like a glue, and it practically glues itself to saturated fats, trans-fats, and sulfur-containing amino acids that have been damaged by heat. As the insulin we produce tries to execute its primary function of transporting glucose and amino acids to the cells, these harmful fats and denatured proteins block its path because the glucose attaches to them, inhibiting penetration into the cells. To bypass this roadblock, the pancreas secretes more insulin, and as the body continues to demand more, the pancreas gets weaker, eventually leading to its failure. For this reason it is important to avoid animal fats and animal proteins if you aspire to maintain healthy pancreatic functioning and prevent diabetes.
The first thing for many of us to acknowledge is that we need amino acids to form proteins. We cannot simply eat protein and immediately use it. There are twenty different food-sourced amino acids from which proteins are made. When we take in animal proteins, our system breaks them down into the individual amino acids we need to make proteins of our own that we can utilize. The process requires an enormous amount of energy which could be used for repairing damaged cells and tissues. Unfortunately, cooking meat diminishes these acids to the point where they are no longer assimilable. Because amino acids are degraded by heat, cooked meat contains damaged amino acids, and is not a good source for protein. Research done by the Max Planck Institute of Research concludes that when we cook meat we lose at least fifty percent of the protein. Of the protein remaining, depending on the heat, only about forty percent is thought to be bio-available. So if we were to eat portions of meat said to have forty grams of protein, after cooking there would only be twenty grams remaining in each portion. Of that remaining protein, our bodies can only assimilate around eight grams. This is equivalent to the amount of protein we would receive from just one tablespoon of organic spirulina. The protein from spirulina is also one-hundred percent bio-available.
As we learn about digestion, we discover that we must convert the food we eat into a liquid form, and smaller macro and micro components, in order for it to pass though the intestinal villi, get filtered through the blood, and for the nutrients to be assimilated and metabolized throughout the body. When considering this, we have to also contemplate how much wear and tear we are putting on our bodies by forcing them to convert such heavy, toxic foods into liquids. Eating meat, dairy, eggs, and highly heated foods require more energy to break down and digest in order to convert to liquid form than it takes to break down raw fruits and vegetables. Protein can be broken down into amino acids and delivered to the cell sites, but the protein in animal products and highly heated foods is treated differently, requiring more work for our systems to digest.The energy wasted used to break down animal protein, converting the solids into a liquid, will leave us feeling sluggish. Furthermore, the residues of cholesterol, saturated fat, uric acid, and cooking toxins clog our bodily systems.
Contrary to this, all plants contain the amino acids our bodies use for making protein, and by eating amino acid-rich plant-derived foods, we benefit more because we bypass the process of breaking down the proteins into amino acids. To assure we are fueling with beneficial proteins, we must go directly to the source, being plant-based foods. All raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, and water vegetables contain the amino acids our bodies need for making proteins. Raw plant protein is always easier for the body to process than animal protein, or proteins that have been heated to high temperatures.
“The lie that you need to eat milk, eggs, or dead animals to get protein in your diet is the lie that has built up the factory farming and slaughterhouse industries into huge environmental travesties in which billions of animals live horrible lives and die terrible deaths - with many of them being cut into and dismembered while they are still alive. All fruits and vegetables contain the essential amino acids your body needs to make protein. You will get all of the amino acids you need by eating enough calories of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.” – John McCabe, Sunfood Traveler
The best food in the world will make us more intelligent. Complete protein sources do not just make us stronger or bigger, they improve our ability to utilize our intellect. The brain runs on carbohydrates and consists of neurons that communicate by way of neurotransmitters and electrical currents. We need complete protein and the quality mineral, essential fatty acid, and enzyme sources of raw plants for these systems to run and produce serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline. Some of the best sources for protein are avocado, barley grass, blue-green algae, broccoli, chia seeds, chlorella, figs, goji berries, hemp seeds, kale, leafy greens, maca, quinoa, romaine lettuce, spinach, spirulina, sprouts, wheatgrass, and other combinations of raw fruits and vegetables. Raw plant protein is always easier for the body to process than animal protein, or proteins that have been heated to high temperatures. All fruits and vegetables contain an array of amino acids. When you eat enough calories of these nutrient dense plant-derived foods, it is impossible to develop a protein deficiency. The grain-like quinoa is high in protein and is a good replacement for rice, pasta, and other carbohydrate sources. Be sure to eat your quinoa after it has soaked for at least a couple of hours, and while it is in its raw state to preserve vitamins and other nutrients.
All fruits and vegetables contain the perfect ratio of amino acids our bodies need for forming protein. Hemp happens to be one that a lot of people say gives them some sort of feeling of completeness, and many people say that using hemp protein has helped them satisfy their ability to stay raw vegan. The body can absorb the nutrients from hemp seeds and utilize them to build strong hair, nails, skin, muscle, and connective tissues. According to John McCabe, in his book Sunfood Living, “Hemp seed provides all of the essential fatty acid and amino acid nutrients in the best form and at the best ratio for the body to maintain vibrant, strong, elastic, and healthy tissues.” Hemp seeds are the only food available that contain the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Pretty cool, huh? Aside from algae, hemp seed is the highest protein food available consisting of around thirty-six percent protein by weight. Spirulina is the number one protein source by weight. This is a fresh water alga that consists of about sixty-five to seventy percent protein. Because it is easily converted to liquid upon entering the body, we utilize this protein more efficiently than most other sources. Spirulina consists of seven to eight percent phycocyanin (blue pigment), which is one of the most important nutrient compounds to ever be discovered. Phycocyanin has been said to generate stem cell production. In addition to the high amount of protein and the phycocyanin, two to three percent of spirulina consists of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the blood of plants and is also a human blood builder. This makes spirulina a terrific food choice. I always purchase my superfoods, such as chia, chlorella, hemp, goji, and spirulina in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. They offer discounts when you buy quantity, and their products are fresh and organic.
While protein is important, what we need to recognize is that we do not need more than thirty-five to forty grams of protein a day in our diet, depending on our height, weight, and how physically active we are. The World Health Organization released a statement suggesting we not consume more than 4.5 percent of our daily caloric intake from protein. This comes out to an average of about twenty-three grams of protein per day for someone consuming around two-thousand calories a day. According to an entry in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, our total calories from protein should not exceed 2.5 percent. This would only equal about thirteen grams a day. For athletes, and those who are frequently active, they should get no more than ten to twenty percent of their daily caloric intake from protein. To gain a better understanding of how much protein one should be ingesting daily, I suggest reading, The 80/10/10 Diet, by Dr. Douglas Graham.
It is nearly impossible to develop a protein deficiency eating a raw vegan diet rich in fruits and vegetables. In fact, many of us have an over abundant amount of protein in our bodies. In Survival Into the 21st Century, Viktoras Kulvinskas, states: “Protein in excess of our needs is not utilized by the body. Cooking meat also destroys the amino acids that are needed for building enzymes and healthy tissues. The protein is poorly absorbed and largely unavailable to the cells. For these reasons, much of the protein we eat passes from the body or is stored in tissues as waste.” Ideally, we should not exceed any more than eight to ten percent of our daily intake of calories from protein, unless we are competitive athletes. Many of us are exceeding that amount and creating acidosis in our bodies. A December 2012 infographic compiled by the grocery delivery program, Door to Door Organics, found that Americans eat at least twelve ounces of meat daily, exceeding their “recommended” daily amount by more than fifty percent. When we have an excess amount of protein in our body, we cannot make use of it and it is stored as waste. As we metabolize this protein waste, we create uric acid and ammonia, in addition to several other bowel toxins. Because we continue to worry that we are not receiving enough protein in our bodies, we are ingesting too much, and as a result we are storing excessive amounts of waste in our tissues. Meat contains uric acid and urea. When digesting this poor quality food, these acid by-products become difficult to metabolize. We tend to absorb them into our muscle tissues before we can excrete them from our bodies. This is what gives the highly acidic “muscle-heads” you see roaming around the gym their bulky look. With the exception of a few vegan bodybuilders, these guys and girls are not doing themselves any favors using animal protein. Most of the time they are simply rich in foreign proteins and loaded with unnatural amounts of muscle weight, not essential for their bodies to function at a healthful level. To learn about vegan bodybuilding, look up Robert Cheeke, and check out the book Vegan Bodybuilding, by Markus Rothkranz. You may also want to watch Joshua Knox speak at the TedX conference about his Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment.
As children, many of us were raised with the idea that milk will strengthen our bones, and that meat will make us stronger and bigger. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children believe what they see, what they hear, and what they are told. When this idea is embedded in their minds throughout their childhood, they carry the misinformation with them through their lives. This explains why still to this day we lack the nutritional knowledge needed for reaching a level of optimal health. We need to stop this from happening to more generations, and to reverse this pattern of misinformation by teaching true, plant-based nutrition. The main protein in milk, casein, is nourishing food for human cancer cells. Our bodies do not require this type of protein. Milk is also contaminated with a variety of chemicals and additives from the unnatural diet given to the cows. In addition, we lose our ability to digest milk in our bodies after three years of age.
“What protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up eighty-seven percent of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants.” – Dr. T. Colin Campbell, The China Study
Among the worst sources for protein are animal products such as milk, cream, cheese, butter, or meat. Dr. T. Colin Campbell explains in The China Study that, “Foreign proteins from livestock nourish cancer cells more than they nourish our bodies.” The protein from milk, meat, or eggs, therefore, is not a good source of protein. It is natural for the animal from which it came and is a structure of amino acids formulated only for the function of that animal. The China Study was conducted over the course of decades by researchers at Cornell and Oxford University. Over six-hundred thousand people in twenty-six different provinces were placed in groups; with one group fed a meat-based diet and the other group fed a plant based vegan diet. Only the groups that were on a meat based diet developed cancers, while not one person on the plant-based diets had any signs of cancer whatsoever. The most interesting part is that they reversed the roles, and the meat eaters who developed cancer were given a plant based diet, and their cancers soon disappeared. Concurrently, the groups who were healthy and on a plant based diet had meat introduced into their diet and they soon developed cancer. This study proves without any discrepancies that meat eating (and especially the consumption of animal protein) is directly linked to cancer.
Another protein believed to be more beneficial than it is happens to be whey protein. Whey is a waste product and by-product of the dairy industry. Whey was previously discarded of by dairy farmers until a business man decided he could fool consumers into believing it is beneficial. This triggered companies to begin packaging and distributing it as a protein supplement. As with all other dairy products, whey is also high in allergens. Do yourself a favor and stay away from whey. It is not a healthful substance, it degrades health. It is not relevant how many lab studies the company marketing the product claims it has been through. The truth is that it does not work as a health generator. More and more reports of fraudulent clinical studies are appearing over time and the best bet here is to research the obvious.
Some people understand the truth about animal protein and go off in search of a replacement. This is where they often make choices that are not the best. Many of them switch to soy products. Soy protein is not a good source of protein and soy can be problematic. Soy is notably high in phytic acid and trypsin inhibitors – which block the body's ability to absorb, deliver, and utilize many other important nutrients. Soy is known to be estrogenic and having excess estrogen will interfere with our progesterone receptor sites, our testosterone receptor sites, and may increase our body fat. Over ninety percent of the soy grown in the Unitd States is also genetically modified (GMO), meaning it is not safe for human consumption.
There are reasons why some vegetarians appear frail or weak. They simply do not make very good food choices, and many consume diets rich in soy, processed salts, gluten, and lots of sautéed and processed vegan foods. It is not because they do not eat meat. The reason is that they are not nourishing their bodies in the best way, and many follow diets lacking in raw fruits and vegetables, but rich in fat and salt. If you are looking for an optimal protein powder, be sure it is derived from raw plant sources. I prefer any of the products by Healthforce Nutritionals, especially their Warrior Food. They are all organic, raw, and wonderful choices.
To maintain an optimal level of health, we must feed ourselves a diet of undamaged amino acids. To achieve this elevated state of well-being, meat is not necessary, whey must be avoided, soy should be replaced with hemp protein, dairy needs to be recognized as food for cows not humans, and eggs cannot be ingested. We can instead choose to eat the foods grown from Earth that are mineral rich, nutrient rich, living, and full of wonderful enzymes that will replenish us, preserve our youth, make us feel alive, and boost our ability to expand our intellect and build up our talents.
– Jesse J. Jacoby ©2014