Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vegan?? Oh Dear, But Where Do You Get Your Protein.

What vegan hasn't heard this shocked, but oh so concerned, question from our friends and family?  As if we are going to waste away, looking like an outcast from a vampire movie, or the latest Hollywood anorexic.

Ahh, the protein myth.  Isn't it funny how Americans (mostly) are so hung up on protein.  And often, those same well-intentioned folks are waddling on their walkers to the buffet line at All You Can Eat restaurants in search of more "protein" -- with plates piling over with what some of us would call pure garbage.

So what is the skinny on protein?  I know, on this blog, I am probably signing to the proverbial choir....but just in case one protein seeking carnivore is reading, then my time will be worthwhile -- or....if you pass this on to your animal eating friends.

Any vegan/vegetarian book on the shelves today addresses this carnivorian myth, but I dug back in my library for an "old friend" from 1971.  How many of you remember the ground breaking book (literally and figuratively): Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe.

In responding to the myth that meant contains more protein than any other food, she wrote: 

Containing 20 to 25 percent protein by weight, meat ranks about in the middle of the protein quantity scale along with some nuts, cheese, beans and fish.

And whether meat is the only way to get enough protein (especially at those All You Can eat hog troughs, oops sorry)

Americans often eat 50 to 100 percent more protein than their bodies can use.  thus, most Americans could completely eliminate meat, fish, and poultry from their diets and still get the recommended daily allowance of protein from all the other protein rich foods in the typical American diet.  

Why should we care?
I am pretty much a "live and let live" kind of person -- but the crux of this debate is the "live" part.   Those folks who subscribe to this protein myth are those folks who do not understand their dietary needs and do not understand, or care about, how to maintain their health.

And why should we care about that?
Because we are paying for their misunderstanding by the high cost of medical insurance and health related costs passed on to those who care about our own health.  It is a personal responsibility issue.  Maybe we cannot change the bulk of the All You Can Eat folks -- but by living our example of good health, maybe we can make changes in how others choose to live.  Maybe children can be educated to eat healthy - to understand nutrition, to take personal responsibility for their health.  Wouldn't it make for a healthier planet?

It's a good thing I am generally a nice and easy going person because at the hospital where I work, I often walk up to my co-workers when they are eating their dinner (can you imagine eating your dinner in a trauma/er unit with body sounds and fluids all around....but nevertheless...) I ask them, "So, what animal had to die to feed you tonight?"    (or if I am more frisky:  what animal had to die to feed your fat ass?)  Most just reply:  Are you waving the green bean again?  To which I reply:  You Bet!!

If it has a face, don't eat it.  Easy. 


  1. Good post, Ann. I blame the Beef and Dairy industries for promoting the myth that only meat and dairy foods contain protein. Remember all those posters in our 1950s grade schools?

  2. In the past year I have had to switch to a no meat diet do to medical reasons, and it really isn't bad. For sure I miss somethings but on the whole not that much.
    Loved your post today!
    Live and let live!


The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.