Ever Wonder How Vegans Get Enough Protein?
If so, you are not alone. As a vegan, I’m frequently asked:
“But How do You Get Protein?”
Or someone might dismiss the idea saying:
“Oh – I Could Never be Vegan, I Need my Protein”
So I’ve written this post for anyone who is unsure about how vegans get protein.
These questions used to make me feel defensive but now I assume most people honestly don’t know since the information is confusing and unclear. Plus, everyone has their own style of eating. Rather then get upset, I like to show people how vegans can live strong and vibrantly (debunking the idea that we are shriveled up string beans).
I also listen closely to determine if someone is genuinely curious. Some folks just want to:
- Attack the vegan diet because it’s too foreign to them.
- Justify eating meat because they enjoy it and don’t want to consider living without it.
I’m not here to judge what people eat so when this happens, I smile, nod my head and change the subject. Now, a recently released documentary called The Game Changers (available on Netflix) not only reviews the research on vegan protein but goes a step further to show how athletes who are vegan, have a competitive edge.
The Game Changers Film
The Game Changers is an informative documentary about elite athletes. Not only are these super-humans some of the best athletes in the world, they are also VEGAN. Watching them perform is awe inspiring but hearing how the vegan diet has helped them, is music to my ears.
The vegan diet suffers from a hippie dippy reputation. So, knowing that top tier athletes and “manly men” have increased their speed, strength and performance after going vegan, sheds a new light on plant based nourishment.
“What most people don’t realize is that the animals they are eating are really just middlemen, since the majority of these animals get their protein from plants, where all protein originates. In fact, most of the largest and strongest animals on the planet, like elephants, rhinos, horses, and gorillas — are herbivores.”
Common Myths About Protein
The film challenges the most widely held beliefs about meat based protein with regards to energy, muscle development, inflammation and disease. Billions of dollars spent on marketing and lobbying campaigns to emphasize the importance of meat based protein and de-emphasize the value of veges, fats and carbs. We’ve learned to make”protein” the star of our plate and everything else is merely a “side”.
“Nowhere is this focus on a single nutrient more exaggerated than with protein.”
The result is an unbalanced nutritional profile not to mention that “Americans, get twice as much protein as they actually need”. (source)
We’ve also been told that:
- The BEST Protein Source is Animal Products. Did you know that a peanut butter sandwich has about as much protein as three ounces of beef or three large eggs??” Also, if this were true, “how could some of the largest and strongest animals on the planet, like elephants, rhinos, horses, and gorillas — be herbivores?
- Plant Based Protein is Insufficient. According to the film, meat based protein can sabotage our ability to perform and feel our best because it’s second hand (think of wearing used shoes) and many of the nutrients have already been extracted. While protein from plants (the original source) is still loaded with fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals that the body uses to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow thus improving performance and well being (source).
For more details, please read this fascinating page on the website.
As an active vegan, I loved the message in this documentary. Not only did athletes excel, but a group of firefighters watched their weight and “markers” improve after only a month of plant based eating.
For me, this is obvious but I know the protein myths run deep and people are reluctant to change.
A Non-Vegan’s Reaction
My husband follows a Paleo diet which is primarily meat based. He swears by cutting out sugar, wheat and carbs. He enjoyed the film but thought it was more demonstrative than scientific. His takeaways are:
- If you are an athlete, it’s not a problem to be on a vegan diet.
- He wasn’t convinced that the benefits were caused by eliminating animal products per-se, but eating better in general since many were replacing fast food with healthier, home cooked meals.
- He thought the vegan food looked “tasty” and agreed to try a vegan diet for week.
There will always be doubters and naysayers with such a controversial issue as diet. Some will debunk the research and criticize the information making it harder to think critically and determine what’s “really” true. This is why it’s important to watch the film and discern for yourself what makes sense. Or, try a personal experiment and go vegan for a week to see if you notice any difference in your mood, performance and overall well being.
Watch the Movie
Even if you prefer a meat based diet, the movie is inspiring to watch. https://gamechangersmovie.com/the-film/
(all photos are from the Film)