Replacing animal foods
with plant foods can be the most important health choice that one can make.
And with soyfoods in the mix, plant based diets can deliver variety, texture,
and flavor along with many healthful benefits. However, many people still
believe that it isn¹t safe to eliminate meat and dairy products from
the diet. Tell a meat eater you are vegan (total vegetarian) and invariably
the first response is "How do you get enough protein"? There is
a dietary revolution in the air. Many well known medical and nutriton professionals
link diets high in protein with bone mineral loss, or osteoporosis.
According to Dr. William
Harris, author of the compellingly persuasive "The Scientific Basis
of Vegetarianism" the reply should be "How much do you think you
need"? Dr. Harris indicates that the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
for protein intake is set too high and insures that over 97% of the population
meeting the RDAs, will exceed its nutrient and calorie requirements.
In order to calculate
your protein requirements, simply divide your ideal weight by 2.2, establishing
your ideal weight in kilograms. Then, multiply that number by .8. The result
will be your daily protein requirement. An adult male whose ideal weight
is 154 pounds needs only 56 grams of protein a day. The average American
consumes about 103 gm. of protein, 70 gm. of which comes from animal sources.
Even pregnant women need only about 75 gm. of protein a day. Dr. Mark Messina,
in The Simple Soybean and your Health says, "Most of us are getting
more protein than the amount needed by a world class body builder."
High protein animal-based
foods provide the framework of the western diet, and at the same time, contribute
an extraordinary amount of cholesterol and fat. There has been an overemphasis
on high protein animal foods in American culture. According to Dr. Neal
Barnard, author, and president of Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine,
in Washington, D.C. "A high protein intake is detrimental to bone strength
and overworks the kidneys."
Soybeans contain all
three of the acro-nutrients required for good nutrition: complete protein,
carbohydrates and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals, including calcium,
folic acid and iron. The calcium in soy is thought to be better utilized
by the body, guarding against osteoporosis. Furthermore, soybeans are the
only vegetable that contains complete protein, providing all eight amino
acids in the amounts needed for human health. The amino acid pattern of
soy is virtually identical to that of meat, milk and egg products. Additionally,
soy protein is the source of phytochemicals that have been credited with
many health benefits.
Certainly soy has become
the quintessential chameleon, and is the "superstar" among legumes.
And I am a well known "Soy-Nut." However, a well balanced, plant
based diet need not rely solely on soyfoods, for sufficient protein. According
to Dr. McDougall , "All the protein needed to grow large muscles is
present in vegetable foods. Vegetables provide two to four times the protein
anyone would need during any activity." He points out that potatoes
provide 11 percent protein, corn; 12 percent, oranges; 8 percent, cauliflower;
4 percent, and legumes like beans, peas, and lentils provide 28 percent
Nathan Pritikin, the
widely acclaimed nutrition expert: has said, "Vegetarians always ask
about getting enough protein, but I don't know any nutrition expert who
could plan a diet of natural foods resulting in protein deficiency, so long
as you¹re not deficient in calories. You need only 5 or 6 % of total
calories in protein...and it is practically impossible to get below 9% in
Plant based menus have
never been so easy..Manufacturers have really, "stepped up to the plate,"
producing high quality soy and wheat gluten based alternatives for those
of us who desire traditional style fare. For others, if your daily menu
includes a balance of foods from the four food groups, VEGETABLES, GRAINS,
LEGUMES, & FRUIT, rest assured that your protein requirements will be
Marie Oser is a bestselling author, columnist,
and VegSource Board Host of "Soy
Talk" She is also the co-host of VegTv.com,
with Jane Velez Mitchell- An all-video site that provides "A VIEW
TO A HEALTHIER YOU." Marie's website is called VeggieChef.com
of Cooking, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,1996
More Soy Cooking, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2000
The Enlightened Kitchen, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2002