Without a doubt this tops the list of questions that I have been asked over and over again. An interesting fact to look at is the sources of daily protein intake for populations across the world. For most Westernized cultures the sources of daily protein intake is overwhelmingly from animal sources (meat, fish, dairy, eggs). So it is probably not coincidence that many chronic health problems (diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, certain cancers, autoimmune disease etc…) are much more prevalent is these cultures.
Other cultures get the majority of their daily protein from plant sources and guess what? They have much lower incidences of the above mentioned chronic diseases. I think just that fact alone is enough to justify a radical change in our dietary habits.
So why do we think we need to eat meat to get protein? Probably for the same reason we think we need to drink milk for strong bones. Industries with lots and lots of money who make sure from the time you are small that you are inundated with these messages over and over again.
Just as an aside, although this website is dedicated to eating a plant based diet, it is really for health reasons. I personally don’t have anything against eating meat or fish. I know this is probably disappointing to some of you but I am just being honest.
What I have a problem with is what we do to our meat today. Let’s take cows (beef) as an example. We have these cows that sit packed into these feedlots somewhere. We spend all this money and energy growing food for them somewhere else. We ship the food to them (more fossil fuels burned) and force feed it to them. It isn’t even what they would normally eat (remember cows are meant to eat grass), so they get sick. So we pump them full of hormones and antibiotics just to keep them alive long enough to slaughter.
Interestingly enough, if we just let cows eat grass they would naturally shed the majority of the bacteria in their bodies so we would not be forced to resort to things like “pink slime” to purify the meat. Also, if we let cows eat grass the fat content of their meat would change dramatically. Grass has low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and cows like to eat a lot of grass, so grass fed cow meat has beneficial omega-3 which are virtually non-existent in grain/corn fed cows.
If you think chicken is any better unfortunately you are wrong. Same mills, same hormones and antibiotics.
Unfortunately, the same thing is happening with fish. Salmon is well known for its high level of omega 3 fatty acids. A fact that I am not sure most people know is that animals, fish included, do not make omega 3s, they get them through their diet. Salmon is such a rich source of omega 3s because wild salmon eat tons of algae which are incredibly rich in omega 3s. The key there is wild salmon. Most of the salmon you find today in supermarkets and restaurants comes from a farm. What do they feed farm raised salmon you might ask? Well not algae of course because that would make too much sense. They are fed oil, corn and fish parts because it is cheaper. Farm raised salmon are virtually devoid of omega 3s. This is yet another example of how technically is killing us from the inside out.
So if you have your own farm, raise your own cows and chickens, let them freely wander around to eat their natural diet, and you want to slaughter them to eat then go right ahead. But when you walk into a fast food restaurant or supermarket to buy your meat you are feeding into a system that is hurting you more than you know. Remember, there are animals that just eat other animals it is just part of life (or in this case death). My justification for not being morally outrage by people eat meat (again, although I don’t) is that if one day a superior alien species comes to our planet and decides that we are food, I will be to be first to line up to take my punishment. Although, I am hoping at 5’10″ and 145 lbs that they will pass me up for someone with a little more meat on their bones (likely a ravenous meat- eater).
So I just realized that I never really answered the question: where do I get my protein? The current US and Canadian guidelines recommendation for protein intake is 46g/day for adult females and 56g/day for adult males. This is assuming a sedentary lifestyle and is not accounting for special circumstances (pregnancy, athletics, kids etc…)
My breakfast every morning is a smoothie which is made with, in addition to other things, hemp milk, acai, chia, and added hemp protein which gives me about 25 to 30 grams of easily absorbable plant based protein. Throughout the day I snack on nuts, sprouts, my homemade protein bars, cheesy kale chips (no real cheese but a nut base) which give me an additional on average 30 grams of protein. For dinner I might have a large salad with either sprouts, buckwheat, couscous or some other seed or nut that increases the protein content giving me an additional 25 to 30 grams. This is just an example. To be honest, when I eat, I don’t thinking am I getting enough of this or that. We are taught to think that way from an early age. We are taught to think that way because the typical American diet is devoid of nutrition. I just eat what my body is meant to eat and it all seems to work itself out. Does it really work? I just had some comprehensive blood work done recently which also looked at, in addition protein, and a lot of vitamin and mineral levels and everything came back completely normal.
So please, explore the various recipes and foods listed in the raw kitchen to see where all this good, natural, healthy protein is hiding.