Vegan Health ArticlesA Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment
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Russell Henry Chittenden Tells the Truth a Century Ago

By: John McDougall M.D.

Chittenden Such narrow-minded thinking should have been stopped by 1905 when Russell Henry Chittenden, Yale University Professor of Physiological Chemistry, published his scientific findings on human protein needs in his classic book, Physiological Economy in Nutrition.2 Professor Chittenden believed Dr. Voit had cause and effect reversed: people did not become prosperous because they ate high protein diets, but rather they ate meat and other expensive high protein foods because they could afford them. One hundred years ago he wrote, “We are all creatures of habit, and our palates are pleasantly excited by the rich animal foods with their high content of proteid (protein), and we may well question whether our dietetic habits are not based more upon the dictates of our palates than upon scientific reasoning or true physiological needs.”

He reasoned that we should know the minimal protein requirement for the healthy man (and woman), and believed that any protein intake beyond our requirements could cause injury to our body, especially to the liver and kidneys. As he explained it, “Fats and carbohydrates when oxidized in the body are ultimately burned to simple gaseous products…easily and quickly eliminated...” “With proteid (protein) foods…when oxidized, (they) yield a row of crystalline nitrogenous products which ultimately pass out of the body through the kidneys. (These nitrogen-based protein byproducts) – frequently spoken of as toxins – float about through the body and may exercise more or less of a deleterious influence upon the system, or, being temporarily deposited, may exert some specific or local influence that calls for their speedy removal.” With these few words Professor Chittenden explained the deleterious effects of diets high in protein and meat – consequences too few practicing doctors know about today.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.