Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Myth About Protein In Our Diet

Question: Where do you get your protein?

This is one of the most common questions people ask when they learn that I eat a raw vegan diet.

Nomi Shannon, author of the best selling and amazing raw vegan book "The Raw Gourmet" came up with a wonderful response that I'd like to share with you - she has given me permission to reprint the following:

"Most of us have been raised with the notion that a lot of protein is good for us. The meat and dairy industries depend on that attitude. But, ponder this for a moment: What is the most perfect food for a human being when it needs it most, as a newborn infant? You guessed it- it is mother's milk. There is no other time in the life of a person when growth will be so dramatic.

The infant will triple or quadruple in size in its first year and needs more protein to grow on than at any other time in its entire life span. And just how much protein is in mother's milk? The answer may surprise you. The amount of protein in mother's milk is approximately 2.5 to 3.5%. Compare that to the amount of protein in cows milk at 30%.

A baby cow needs to gain hundreds of pounds of mass in its first year, while it's relatively small brain does not need to grow very much; quite obviously different than the needs of a human baby.

If the amazing growth in the first year of life is perfectly served by the amount of protein in mother's milk, why would any human being ever need more? The answer is, he/she does not need more protein than that.

One of the biggest mistakes in a SAD (Standard American Diet) is the consumption of too much protein. One of the saddest and most dramatic effects of a high protein diet is a negative calcium balance leading to osteoporosis in an older person. Habitual consumption of high protein forces the calcium in the body to act as a buffer to the high acid state created in the digestion of protein. The current medical advice to consume more and more calcium in the form of milk products, oyster shell calcium and over the counter digestive aids such as Tums cannot reverse the calcium loss in the bones due to excess protein consumption. Excess protein robs our bones of the very substance they need to maintain their strength. Osteoporosis is not a disease due to calcium deficiency; it is due to a lifelong consumption of too much protein.

As for a vegetarian, vegan and raw food diet, all the leafy greens and sprouts contain protein. If you are eating lots of fresh raw leafy greens and sprouts, along with a moderate amount of nuts and seeds, there is usually no reason to be concerned about your protein intake.

For those who continue to be concerned or who have higher protein needs, such as athletes and growing children, raw sunflower seeds and raw tahini (sesame seed butter) in particular, are very digestible sources of protein and they are very economical compared to other nuts and seeds. Shakes and dressings made with a tahini base are excellent for people with weak digestion, the ill, the elderly and children. Tahini is not only a good protein source, but it is also high in calcium, good fat and it is alkalizing".

Nomi Shannon, A.K.A. The Raw Gourmet, is the author of the best selling raw vegan book The Raw Gourmet, and co-author of Raw Food Celebrations. In 2008 Nomi was awarded three ‘Best of Raw Awards’ for Best Raw Educator, Favorite Raw Chef and Favorite Raw Book. In 2009’s ‘Best of Raw’, Nomi placed in the top 5 in five categories, her personal favorite being: “funniest raw woman”.

Raw since 1987, Nomi has been featured in Alive magazine, Get Fresh, San Diego North County Times, Galveston News, as well as numerous radio shows. Nomi offers a free online newsletter as well as a free 7 part email class at

I truly hope the above explanation helps to clarify the myth of protein in our diet. I personally have not eaten animal protein in over 30 years, have hardly eaten dairy in the last 20, and enjoyed excellent health and energy throughout all these years, including 2 pregancies - one with twins. Benny & I have raised our 3 children on a (mostly) vegan diet and they have also enjoyed optimum health, strong teeth and bones, no illnesses or digestive issues.

As we get older we need to be much more conscious of everything we put in our bodies, especially if we want to be free of disease and pain in later years.

Moderation is key. So is trying new things.

Wishing you wonderful health:
physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!

1 comment:

Kim, Rambling Family Manager said...

Great article Shira! Thanks for sharing it with everyone. :)