If you’ve recently started eating a plant based, vegan or vegetarian diet I bet that the one question you’ve been asked the most is:

“But where are you getting your protein from?”

If this sounds like you then don’t worry. I was in exactly the same position. Everyone thinks that you need to eat loads of dairy, red meat, chicken and fish to get enough protein, but that’s just not true. In this post I’m going to question the perception that you need a lot of protein, animal protein, to thrive and be healthy.muscles

Have you heard of Russell Henry Chittenden?

He was the head of biochemistry at Yale University and is often regarded as the father of biochemistry. He challenged the perception that you needed a lot of protein to stay healthy and so he experimented on himself. He cut his protein intake from 150 grams a day to around 40 grams a day and an amazing series of things started to happen to him. He didn’t feel sick everyday like he used to, his arthritic knees went away, his general aches and pains disappeared and he lost 30 pounds. He didn’t waste away, he didn’t die. He thrived!

So he decided to extend the experiment to five people in his faculty, then 13 members of the Army Corps of Engineers and then eight Yale athletes. Every single one of them thrived on less protein. They became healthier, lost weight and in the case of the athletes they improved their performance by 35%. This all took place over 100 years ago!

Since then science has proved him right and yet we still think, for some bizarre reason, that more protein is the key to health.

More protein damages your health, it doesn’t make you healthier. In the words of Dr Roy Swank, “dig your grave with your teeth”. (You can check out his foundation by clicking here.)

So how much protein do you really need?

Well, to replace the protein your body loses each day you only need 5-6% dietary protein. But as Dr T Colin Campbell states: the recommendation is “9-10% protein is the amount that has been recommended for the past fifty years to be assured that most people at least get their 5-6%.”

Protein Packed Plant Foods

All natural foods-from lettuce to nuts-contain varying amounts of protein. If you eat a varied diet of plant foods you’ll have no reason to worry about getting enough protein. In fact you may even be eating too much protein. The average person eats 15-16% a day but with the advent of high protein diets people are consuming more rather than less with tragic consequences.

Heart problems, kidney problems, osteoporosis, weight gain and cancer have all been shown to be caused by too much protein. Check out this recent article on high protein diets and cancer. Too much protein is as bad for your health as smoking!

Don’t be concerned if you think you’re not getting enough protein. It’s virtually impossible not to eat enough. You’ll rarely hear of someone being protein deficient.

If you’ve heard that plant foods aren’t complete proteins then check out this article by Jeff Novick just click here.

Check how much protein is in the food you eat

You can check out the protein content of the food you eat by going to the Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture by clicking here.

Try to get your protein from beans, legumes and veg, not soybeans. Check out my post on soybeans by clicking here to find out why.

What do you think? Are you getting too much protein?

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