Myths About Protein
We do not need to eat meat in order to get adequate protein. Vegetables and grains contain lots of protein.
Protein is made up of various amino acids. There are 20 amino acids needed by the human body to maintain itself. Our bodies can make 11 of these, but the others, the "essential amino acids" must come from our diet. Different categories of food contains various types and amounts of the essential amino acids. Whether you eat meat or vegetables, the aminio acids, the building blocks of protein are the same.
Not all foods contain all of the essential amino acids in the same amounts. Most vegetable sources of protein contain smaller amounts of one or more of the essential amino acids.
What this means is that in order to get all the essential amino acids one needs from vegetable sources, one must eat a variety of foods. For example, the protein in beans may lack one essential amino acid, but that missing amino acid will be found in rice, corn or wheat. As long as you eat a variety of foods, there should be no worries about adequate protein intake. The different foods do not even need to be eaten together, our bodies store amino acids, as well as vitamins for later use.
Soy protein is a complete protein. Quinoa and buckwheat also have a full complement of amino acids. Look for organic soy products in order to avoid genetically engineered foods.
There are some excellent alternatives to dairy products available even in small town grocery stores these days. Soy alternatives to sour cream, cream cheese and milk can be used in cooking and baking. The recipes on these pages use soy products or coconut milk instead of dairy. Almond milk is another good choice.
Here are a few protein factoids:
-A Carnegie Melon study found that the average American would benefit the planet more by being vegetarian one day per week than by switching to a totally local diet (heck, why not do both?).
-A University of Chicago study found that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading your gas guzzler for a Prius.
-The head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recommended that people give up meat one day a week to take pressure off the atmosphere.
-According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Think about the history of humankind. Most subsistence farmers throughout the world and throughout history have lived on vegetables and grains, not large quantities of meat. Meat was a rarity for most of humankind throughout much of its history. Maybe it should be again.
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