Do Vegans/Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

Posted at September 19, 2018 by admin on category TheZapperBlog

If you are already eating a vegan/vegetarian diet, or if you are moving in that direction, then by simply eating enough food from a variety of sources (consuming sufficient calories for your energy needs), you will automatically be getting enough protein. Why? Because each and every plant food contains complete protein in varying amounts. Some plant foods, including broccoli, asparagus, bamboo shoots, and Brussels sprouts, are very high in protein. They contain a higher percentage of protein (as a percentage of total calories) than beef, milk or eggs.

Although many people are under the misconception that they need lots of protein to be healthy, in fact, high-protein diets have been linked to several health problems. Excess protein is broken down by the liver and excreted by the kidneys as urea. Urea acts as a diuretic, causing water and minerals to be lost from the kidneys. One of the most important minerals lost in this way is calcium, because to counteract the protein onslaught, calcium is pulled out of the bones.

Calcium loss is related to osteoporosis – brittle bones that can break very easily. Osteoporosis affects more than a million Australians.

Other problems associated with high protein diets include kidney stones, reduced kidney function, gout, arthritis, and cancer of the breast, prostate, pancreas, colon, rectum and uterus.

A flesh-based diet contains too much protein. A vegetarian diet is usually lower in protein, provided you are not overdoing protein-rich dairy products or eating too many legumes. More than one meal a day of high-protein legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, can lead to protein overload, even in a vegan/vegetarian diet.

Rather than worrying about not getting enough protein, we should be more concerned about our source of protein. If coming from animal sources, not only are you getting too much, but you are also getting no fiber and no carbohydrate.

Meat is a decent source of iron, but vegetables are much better. Great sources of iron are green leafy vegetables, apricots, prunes, peaches, raisins, dates, legumes, nuts and grains, alfalfa sprouts, peas and pumpkin seeds. (Dried fruits and nuts, grains, seeds and legumes must be soaked first.)

Well-planned vegan diets follow healthy eating guidelines, and contain all the nutrients that our bodies need. Both the British Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognise that they are suitable for every age and every stage of life. Some research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

Eliminating meat (and dairy) is a great opportunity to learn more about nutrition and cooking, and improve your diet. Getting your nutrients from plant foods allows more room in your diet for health-promoting options like whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables, which are packed full of beneficial fibre, vitamins  and minerals.

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