Vegan Health ArticlesA Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment
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So How Do You Know the Truth about Your Protein Needs?

By: John McDougall M.D.

Read the scientific literature and look at the world picture. Notice that 60 percent of people alive today and most of the people who have lived in the past have obtained their protein from plant foods. They have lived successfully; avoiding all the diseases common in our society. Even today plant sources provide 65% of the world supply of the protein we eat.

What about the starving children in Africa? The picture one often sees of “protein deficient” children in famine areas of Asia or Africa is actually one of starvation and is more accurately described as “calorie deficiency.”11 When these children come under medical supervision, they are nourished back to health with their local diets of corn, wheat, rice, and/or beans. Children recovering from starvation grow up to l8 times faster than usual and require a higher protein content to provide for their catch-up in development – and plant foods easily provide this extra amount of protein. Even very-low protein starchy root crops, such as casava root, are sufficient enough in nutrients, including protein, to keep people healthy.3

The World Health Organization knows the truth. Since 1974 it has recommended that adults consume a diet with 5% of the calories from protein – this would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day. These minimum requirements provide for a large margin of safety that easily covers people who theoretically could have greater protein needs – such as accident victims or people with infections. This quantity of protein is almost impossible to avoid if enough whole plant food is consumed to meet daily calorie needs. For example, rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly useable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein for a working man.16 For a pregnant woman the WHO recommends 6% of the calories come from protein – again an amount of protein easily provided by a diet based on starches, vegetables, and fruits.

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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.