In Part 1 of this series, we touched upon the basic myths associated with protein and plant-based food as well as good sources of plant protein. In this installment, we will touch upon how much protein humans really need, the dangers of animal protein and the nutritional benefits of plant protein.
How much protein do you need?
Let’s start with we don’t need as much protein as the meat and dairy industry would have you believe. An individuals protein needs depends on their age, weight and the amount of exercise they get. According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, you need 0.36 grams of protein per pound of your weight. So, if you weigh 150 lbs., you need 54 grams of protein a day.
The FDA recommends a daily protein intake of 50 grams for adults, with varying values depending on the age of a person. For example, 14 grams for infants, 16 grams for children under 4 years of age, 60 grams for pregnant women, and 65 grams for lactating women.
People that consume animal protein in every meal can end up consuming up to 5 times more animal protein than their daily requirement. This spells a lot of trouble to the liver, bones and kidneys. In fact, it should come as no surprise that Americans (and other large meat eating populations) tend to suffer from excess protein consumption rather than deficiency.
The Problem with Animal Protein
Animal products may be packed with protein, but they also contain saturated fat and trans fats. Numerous well-backed studies have linked animal flesh and dairy, especially red meat, to a host of deadly and degenerative diseases such as cancer (colorectal, breast, ovarian, prostate), diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, gallstones, kidney stones, depression, Crohn’s disease, constipation, and obesity.
While they’re alive, animals are sprayed with insecticides so that bugs and insects don’t gnaw on their flesh. They are given hormones to produce maximum meat, and antibiotics to keep them from getting sick or dying while they are still in their cramped and dirty cages. Animals such as cows and pigs are fed with ground bones of their own kind and leftover scraps of beefsteak and pork chop, turning them into carnivorous cannibals. Prior to slaughter, they are injected with intoxicants, and once dead (meat) they are often injected with colors and tenderizers before they get delivered to markets, groceries, and restaurants. Chicken, cows, and pigs are fed with pesticide and herbicide-laden genetically modified feed and meat can also have fecal matter and heat-resistant parasites. Fish and other seafood have mercury, and are sprayed with boric acid to maintain freshness. Lastly, animals secrete toxic chemicals and hormones into their bloodstream due to the fear and pain of being prepared for the kill, so even if you eat organic or “humanely raised” red or white meat, you may still ingest the toxic chemicals these helpless animals secrete while being killed.
Nutritional Benefits of Plant-based Protein
Plant amino acids come with a host of other important nutrients necessary to maintain health and reverse life-threatening diseases that animal flesh doesn’t have in high amounts or doesn’t have at all, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, water, fiber, essential fatty acids, and the all-important enzymes if you eat them raw. Eating your plant protein cooked will be much less of a strain to the body than eating cooked animal protein, but ingesting your plant protein raw is by a wide margin less stressful to the digestive system than eating it cooked.
Amino acids in fruits and vegetables are very easy to assimilate and are utilized by the body better than animal protein, which usually ends up undigested, causing problems not just to the digestive system but to the immune system as well when they end up floating unmetabolized in the bloodstream, causing autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.
Animal products are not the panacea for your protein needs. Going vegan or even vegetarian is obviously the healthier choice. Go vegan for at least a month to see and feel the difference!