The protein requirement of the body is at its highest during growth periods in children, adolescents, and pregnancy. A common myth is that an athlete or those doing hard physical labor require more protein. The use of protein supplements is of no use to those who eat a balanced diet. Excess protein in an athlete can actually cause dehydration, loss of appetitle, and diarrhea.
Protein supplements have been promoted for a variety of reasons, usually monetary. Despite evidence showing that most people consume far more protein than they need, supplements are still encouraged, advocating the belief that health would be greatly improved with this addition. It is a very costly addition in more ways than one.
Protein does not increase strength. In actuality, it takes more energy to digest and metabolize protein than any other food. Excess protein that cannot be utilized in the formation and replenishment of new cells is stored as fat. When this happens, the person thinks he must go on a high protein diet in order to get rid of the accummulated fat, and so the cycle begins.
Those animals mankind thinks of as being the strongest in the world are often the ones used as beasts of burden. It is these animals that consume only plant foods – oxen, mules, horses, cattle, elephants, camels. Even the silverback gorilla, that can toss a human like a frizbee, eats nothing but fruit, and will resort to other plants only when the fruit runs out.
Animals used for protein obtain their own protein from plants – cattle, poultry, sheep, etc. Those animals that do eat other animals are rarely eaten by man – lions, snakes, cats, dogs, etc. The animals that humans have been using for food have, inadvertently, been eating their own kind, producing diseases within their own species and crossing that barrier into humans.
In a Nationwide Food Consumption Survey, 3% of the population had protein intakes of less than 70% of the recommended allowance in their particular category. The protein intake per 1000 kcal was 38-40 grams per day, and did not vary regardless of income. The failure to eat the recommended amount of protein per day appeared related to the inadequate quantity of food, rather than to the ability to pay for meat. The lower intakes of protein were not correlated with lower blood protein levels, and not a single case of clinically manifested protein deficiency appeared with a serum albumin level below 2.5 g.
The International Society for Research on Civilization and Environment, headquartered in Brussels, in their report in 1989, stated that the classical protein requirement tables needed an overhaul and that the consumption of meat, fish, and eggs is not necessary on a daily basis. This is directly opposite of what is still being traditionally taught. In 1993, Canada, as well as the United States, decided to upgrade their food requirement tables, adding more vegetable proteins to the recommended lists. However, meat producers and lobby groups pushed so hard that they were able to force a reversal.
The following article appeared in the Toronto Star (January 15, 1993), originally from The Ottawa Citizen via Southamstar Network:
“The federal government put more meat and eggs in the revised Canada Food Guide, and backed off on other recommendations after complaints from the food industry. Documents show Health and Welfare Canada redrew its colorful rainbow chart to double the recommended servings of meat and eggs, alter recommendations on fat, and drop suggested limits for sweets and coffee. Prepared in a secretive manner similar to the federal budget, 4.5 million copies of the food guide were released in November after five years of consultation. “It is important to understand that the food guide is based on nutrition and food science,” a background booklet to the guide says. But documents obtained under the Access to Information Act by researcher Ken Rubin outline the significant changes won by the food industry before the guide was published. During 1991, the government sent several prototypes of the chart to so-called “stakeholders” for comment, and held workshops. Food producers were disturbed by what they saw. “At the workshop, I got the impression the food guide is trying to accommodate a vegetarian eating pattern,” complained Mary Ann Yaromich, nutrition manager of Canada Pork Inc. The proposed guide cut the recommended minimum servings of meat from two a day to one. And it suggested meat alternatives, such as tofu, beans and legumes. “I do not think (one) 50-gram serving is sufficient, even for preschoolers,” wrote Patricia Scarlett, national nutrition co-ordinator of the Beef Information Centre. “This (reduction) can be interpreted as a reinforcement of the myth that meat is not good for you – or give the impression of it being a “bad food.” The egg industry had similar criticisms. “We find it unacceptable and strongly protest that the serving size of eggs be reduced from two eggs (100 grams) in the previous guide to one egg (50 grams) in the proposed revision,” wrote Claire Cronier, nutritionist for the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency. The Dairy Farmers of Canada objected to a proposed reduction in milk servings for teenagers to three servings, from the previous three-to-four servings. In each case, changes were made. The food guide now recommends two to three servings of meat or alternatives daily. It increased the egg serving size to allow two eggs. Teens are advised to drink up to four cups of milk. Some health professionals have criticized the guide for its contents and how it was prepared.” Meat, Dairy, and Egg lobbyists obviously have more clout than grain producers, proving that corporations care more for their bottom line than for the health of their customers.
Protein is present in most foods, with the exception of sugars, fats, and oils. Such grains as wheat, oats, millet, and rice provide almost ½ of the world’s protein. Sadly, most of it goes to feed animals and not people. Grains are not only low in fat, but provide iron, zinc, B vitamins, and fiber. It is often told that soybeans are the only vegetable that has a protein content equal to meat, but amaranth and quinoa also have amino acid patterns comparable to those found in foods of animal origin.
There are more than 13,000 different kinds of legumes, but most North Americans would have trouble naming five! The most familiar legumes are: peas, lentils, peanuts, soybeans, and garbanzos (chickpeas), which are a good source of iron and zinc. Eating a variety of protein foods balances any potential amino acid deficiencies. A planned complement is virtually unnecessary since the total protein intake of most North Americans, including vegans, is far in excess of their requirements. The concept that all plant foods are lacking certain amino acids is not only inaccurate but, thankfully, outdated.
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians DO NOT have a greater incidence of pernicious anemia. Blood-foods are not needed to form hemaglobin in the human body. The nutrients that are required to make the required hemoglobin can be found in plants as well as animal flesh. In addition, plant foods have other components that animal flesh does not have.
How Much Is Too Much?:
The Nationwide Food Consumption Survey and the first Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES), done more than twenty years ago, showed, even then, that protein intakes for each age-sex category exceeded recommended allowances. The protein-deficiency fear has been running rampant ever since.
Sufficient protein is needed to cover the daily nitrogen losses in the urine, feces, skin, hair, nails, perspirations, and other secretions. These losses amount to roughly 23 grams of protein a day. In order to replenish this daily loss, one would only have to eat 1½ pounds of protein foods a month. The RDA for a healthy individual remains more than double what is needed. As stated earlier, this is mainly because of successful lobbying from animal producers.
According to the American Dietetic Association report in 1981, vegan men were consuming 150% more than the daily requirement; vegan women 139% more; lacto-ovo-vegetarian men 175% and women 186% more. Non-vegetarian men were consuming a whopping 223% more than the daily recommended protein requirement, while the women were consuming 214%. Protein consumption has been increasing ever since, along with the rise in obesity, osteoporosis, and heart disease – just to name a few.