There are far more healthy and complete vegetarian protein sources available to us than many people think.
There is an endless amount of vegetarian protein sources, yet "Where do you get your protein from?" is perhaps the most common question vegans and raw vegans get asked. First of all let's look at how much protein carcass eaters actually get. Ground beef is is around 24% protein, chicken breast is roughly 35% protein and pork is somewhere around 27% (depends on the cut and diet of the animal). The rest of the percentages in these foods is by and large saturated fat, which has been well established to be hazardous to your health when it comes from animal sources.
At the bottom of the food chain, all animals eat vegetarian protein sources to build their flesh. How does a Gorilla, which pound for pound is 10x stronger than a full grown man, become like this just by eating fruit, roots and green sprouts? Vegetarian protein sources provide it with all the materials it needs to do this.
Furthermore the high temperatures of cooking (or pasteurization) needed to kill off the harmful pathogens in the decomposing flesh, coagulates and destroys much of the proteins in animal products. If that's not enough, the longer an animal carcass is sitting around whether frozen or not, the more amino acids break down. So for example, chicken which when raw is around 35% protein, is actually only about 18% usable protein (if you're lucky) after it's done traveling to your home and has been cooked. Also if it's not organic, chemicals can denature the amino acids in it as well.
On the plant based diet side of the equation dulse (an edible seaweed) is around 40% vegan protein, chia seeds are 21% protein and spirulina can be up to 70% protein! It is actually quite accurate to say people who eat a diet of predominantly processed foods (cooking is processing) can actually develop deficiencies in some of the essential amino acids despite meat being touted as a "complete" protein. People eating centenarian foods don't develop these deficiencies.
According to the Max Planck Institute for nutritional research, half of all amino acids are irreversibly damaged when heated to standard cooking temperatures.
There are 20 different standard amino acids available to us. Eight of these amino acids are considered essential, meaning you have to get them in your diet because your body can't manufacture them from other nutrients. People who are getting their protein from cooked sources are at a greater risk of becoming deficient in the essential amino acid lysine. It's quite surprising that what most people think of as a high protein diet (eating plenty of animal products) is actually lacking in essential nutrients, where as someone eating a vegan raw food diet can be eating less overall amino acids, yet have less deficiencies since the amino acids are all intact when they come from raw vegetarian protein sources! (Also the enzymes needed to digest them more efficiently are still available.)
The other factor that will help you develop a greater understanding of raw vegetarian protein sources is that they are actually composed of amino acids. Animal products contain proteins which must be broken down in your body, using up valuable enzymes, to create the amino acids that your body then uses to re-build into your own unique proteins. Vegetarian protein sources are mostly predigested when compared to animal based proteins, thus requiring less energy and resources for your body to assimilate.
A by-product of breaking down many types of animal flesh for its amino acid content is a build of of uric acid in your body. Like cholesterol, a small amount of uric acid is necessary for biological functions, but the excessive amounts of it that animal products create in your body leads to problems down the road such as gout, kidney malfunctions and arthritis (just to name a few.) Also the excess cholesterol along with the high saturated fat content of animal products are an undisputed cause of heart disease.
Vegetarian protein sources are actually amino acid sources or they are composed of highly digestible proteins. Straight amino acids are the safest and most bio-available way for us to get our daily protein requirements. All plants contain amino acids. The only difference is that some have a lower percentage of amino acids in comparison to the rest of the parts of the plant. Also some vegetarian protein sources don't have a complete essential amino acid profile, but can easily be combined with other foods that have those missing elements.
Here is a list of just a few very high quality vegetarian complete protein sources. Many of these would be considered centenarian foods:
~Wheatgrass Juice: As well as other grass juices
~Most Leafy Green Vegetables: That includes lettuce, kale, spinach etc... Surprisingly 1lb of romaine lettuce has 2.1x more complete protein than 1lb of beef.
~Green Sprouts: Ex. sunflower sprouts are 35% protein.
~Algae: Chlorella, Spirulina and E3live are all protein powerhouses. They range from 50%-70% complete protein!
~White Turkish Mulberries
~Golden Inca Berries: Other various types of berries with complete protein exist too.
~Hemp Hearts: A.k.a. shelled hemp seeds
~Tocotrienols: These are rice bran polishings.
~Ramon Nuts: An environmentally sustainable food from the Amazon.
~Fermented soy products: Tempeh or natto are fermented and much safer than tofu, soy milk and soy protein.
~Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly and Propolis
~Maca: Herb that is missing 1 essential amino acid but contains all 19 other amino acids.
~Some Types Of Mushrooms: Ex. shiitake has complete protein.
~Pine Tree Pollen
There is a lot of selection in that list of superfoods. The thing is, it doesn't even cover the incomplete sources of amino acids. Incomplete just means that the food is deficient in one or more of the 8 essential amino acids. Again, all plant foods do contain some amino acids even if they are incomplete. By eating a variety of foods, even the incomplete ones, you are always getting a full spectrum of amino acids and there's no need to keep track of what you're eating. There is absolutely zero risk of getting too little protein on a vegan raw living food diet because of this! The only exception is if you are only eating one food all the time that does not have all 8 essential amino acids such as bananas. Some of these fruits are very low in amino acids, but they still do contain some.
Now on the other hand, a cooked vegan diet, although it's still better than a cooked diet with animal products in it, can be deficient in any vegetarian protein sources that are destroyed by heat.
The intention of this article is to emphasize to you the benefits of raw vegetarian protein sources over the poor quality of cooked food proteins. You can eat a high protein vegetarian diet if you really want to. With the increasing popularity of fraudulent and dangerous dietary practices such as the Atkins diet or the South Beach diet, many people think they need larger amounts of protein then what is an adequate amount as shown by true science.
Without getting too much into vilifying these dietary philosophies, I will say that even if some people are meant to eat more protein and fat in their diet, vegetarian protein sources are still available to you on a vegan raw living food diet and you will escape the harsh effects of the highly acid forming, highly toxic, unethical and ecologically disastrous effects of high meat diets.
You will also be getting healthier fats as you will be replacing excessive amounts of saturated fats with mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. When many people are first going raw, they often tend to eat large amounts of nuts and seeds to compensate for the lack of fat and (the supposed lack of) protein from animal sources. Almost always, these people move towards a diet of primarily vegetables, sprouts, superfoods and small amounts of fruit which leads to increased energy and has a powerful anti-aging benefits on the body. The excessive fat and protein of animal products will cause sluggishness and accelerate aging as can be seen in those who follow these ways of eating.
If you look at the people promoting these fad-diets, you will see they never look healthy! To me this just further demonstrates the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Dr. Atkins was clinically obese and had heart disease at the time of his death. He died from a head injury after tipping over... Others recommending similar diets display saggy jowls, rolls of fat and beat red faces (inflammation). None of them have lived for any great length of time. The cultures with the highest rates of longevity are always verging on eating a vegan diet, although with small amounts of animal products here and there, but never anywhere close to the proportions these people suggest.
These health "teachers" like to talk about traditional cultures that ate diets high in animal fat and protein who don't have the diseases that we do. Unfortunately they fail to realize the impact that eating 100% natural food (even if it's mostly animal products) and having an outdoor lifestyle will have a tendency to make up for the bad effects of these foods. They will often make claims such as the Inuit were free of disease. They forgot to mention however that the Inuit have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world (from a very highly acidic diet) and have a life expectancy 10% lower than the rest of North America.
An expanding waistline is strongly correlated with a contracting life-span.
Another reason many people are sometimes misguided into thinking that a diet based around vegetarian protein sources is bad is that the vegans they have met happened to look very skinny or even underweight. For a new vegan, weight loss is often experienced, but this is almost always a reduction in unnecessary body-fat (although if they're not eating enough calories they may have some muscle wasting which is not a good thing). Most people who are overweight and eat animal products think that being thin and having the body-fat of an elite level athlete is unhealthy, but it's actually the ideal if you want health. Of all the best kept secrets of longevity, #1 is that barely anyone lives past 100 if they're overweight.
The whole bigger is better mentality pervades diet and body image for many people. I believe this is a reaction to the portrayal of skinny as "cool" by the media and fashion industry. Overweight people often feel like they are attacked by the "skinny culture" and feel the need to attack back even if it means ignoring the fact that having extra body fat is actually unhealthy.
The best determinant of health and weight can be found by looking at your BMI index. Personally, I am within my BMI ratio. I'm not underweight, yet on numerous occasions I have been insulted by people who were overweight and thought that I looked "too skinny". I believe that the origin of this mentality originates from times when food shortages and famines were always a looming possibility on everyone's mind.
It's quite interesting that during these times of "shortages" people often relied on vegetarian protein sources. During the first and second world wars, rates of cancer and heart disease dropped during this time of less meat consumption. When the wars were over, the rates of diseases increased with the consumption of animal products once again.
Now that we are surrounded by affluence, we no longer require to "pack on" food for storage in case we run out. It is healthy to have a slim figure. Of course I am in no way condoning eating disorders. Like I mentioned, the BMI index is a great tool for determining whether you need to lose weight or gain it. Being able to maintain muscle mass while have having a slim figure is a key to the longevity game. Vegetarian protein sources make this very easy. Play it right, or you'll be in need of a plus size wooden box sooner than you would like...
Now when I say slim figure, I am referring to having a low body-fat percentage. Muscle mass is a very important component of health. To gain muscle you don't need to eat foods that cause weight gain and create impacted cross-linked amino acids (cooked protein) to build up on the interior walls of you colon, giving you that distended-abdomen-look. It adds whole new meaning to the term "you're full of it shit"! People might make assumptions about veganism from looking at the bodybuilding industry and its emphasis on meat and dairy protein. There is a growing community of vegetarian and vegan bodybuilding enthusiasts who are beginning to break these myths by building muscle mass from vegetarian protein sources.
Meat does not = muscle bulk
Hard work, proper nutrition and mental attitude = muscle bulk
The proportional number of vegetarian and vegan bodybuilders compared to meat eating bodybuilders is one reason why you don't see them that often, if at all! There just aren't that many of them (yet) which is partly what feeds the myth that you need to eat meat to build muscle.
The other point to keep in mind is that a vegan body-builder who chooses to eat a vegetarian diet is also going to make other healthy choices, such as to not use steroids. This is quite significant, as this industry is filled with drug use to gain muscle quicker. The over-the-top unnatural look of bodybuilders today is a result of steroid use and not meat use! There are in fact a number of very influential vegetarian and vegan body-builders who have all contributed to showing the world that true health and bodybuilding fitness do go together.
~Milo of Croton: He was a raw living food vegan strongman from the 6th Century B.C. in Greece, now southern Italy . However... there is a tale of the strongman Milo eating gargantuan amounts of meat, up to 20 lbs a day. This is very unrealistic for any human of any size to consume. The story was most likely fabricated as a way to dissuade people from vegetarianism, which had been ridiculed by people who felt threatened by these Pythagorean practices.
It is much more likely that he was vegan because he was a product of a society in Croton designed by Pythagorus which consisted of everyone having daily training in gymnastics, running, shadow boxing, wrestling and keeping to a strict diet of uncooked vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts such as acorns. These are all excellent vegetarian protein sources. If he grew up eating this way and was as a student of Pythagorus, he would not have suddenly taken up eating such large amounts of meat later in life seeing as he was also friends with, and possibly the son in law to Pythagorus. He is said to have been the strongest man who has ever lived!
~Bill Pearl: Bill is a lacto-ovo vegetarian, meaning he eats eggs and dairy but no meat. At the peak of his career he was 242 lbs and had biceps 21 inches in diameter which is very impressive for someone who is only 5'10"! He won a whopping 5 Mr. Universe titles and is said to be the greatest bodybuilder ever, even over Arnold Schwarzenegger. He did use steroids in his early career (while being a vegetarian) which shows us that it is steroids use that makes these body builders at the top "super-human" looking. However his final title of Mr. Universe was achieved after ten years of being drug free and still vegetarian.
~Wade Lightheart: Wade is a raw living food vegan! At 5,8' and 205 lbs with 18" biceps he is the most impressive example of vegan body-building alive today. As an ex-Mr. Universe competitor, he has proven that vegan body-builders are capable of competing with other top level animal product consuming athletes. Quite likely he was unable to achieve a victory in the largest competitions as he refused to take performance enhancing drugs, which is a rampant practice in the pro-bodybuilding culture.
~Robert Cheeke: This young vegan bodybuilder is leading the vegan body-building movement with a thriving internet site dedicated to spreading the word about this sport.
~Jack Lalanne: Jack eats eggs and occasionally fish, but no dairy, no meat from other sources and even no dessert! At 94 years old he is a poster boy for the importance of exercise for longevity, anti-aging and taking control of your life!
~Robbie Hazeley: Robbie is vegan body-builder and impressively is still competing at age 52.
~Peter Ragnar: Peter is a raw vegan bodybuilder and a martial artist. As a pre-baby boomer who exhibits tremendous feats of strength and he never reveals his real age. He is a true inspiration to us all.
~Storm Talifero: Storm is a raw vegan body-builder who appears to have not aged a day in over 30 years. In fact he has more muscle mass at 55 then he has ever had in his entire life.
~Charlie Abel: At 51 Charlie is demonstrating that you can build muscle as you age as well as doing it while on a raw living food vegan diet.
~Stephen Arlin: Stephen is a raw vegan bodybuilder, as well as the formulator of a product made from vegetarian protein sources.
So in the end you have two choices, you can have muscles as dead as the cows you ate to make them, or you can create them out of living, vibrant and raw vegetarian protein sources. By choosing the latter you have secured yourself a long future full of the greatest nutrition ever, without the old fear of not getting enough protein. With the tests of time you'll soon agree that veganism is one of the best kept anti-aging secrets around!
~"Lifeforce" by Dr. Brian Clement (Book Publishing Company, 2007)
~"The China Study" by T.Colin Cambell Ph.D. (Benbella Books, 2006)
~"Health Expectancy in Greenland" by Iburg KM, Bronnum-Hansen H, Bjerregaard P. (Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2001;29:5-12)
Click to return from "Vegetarian Protein Sources" to the "Diet for Longevity" page.