Thursday, November 27, 2008

Protein Overdose

As a vegetarian, the #1 question I am asked is: "How do you get enough protein?!?!"

This question is especially annoying because the people who ask are obviously un-educated as to what a well-balanced meal really looks like (their idea of a hearty meal is steak/pork chops/meatloaf, fried potatoes, a dinner roll, and a diet coke.)

For those of you curious; vegetables, soy, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains all contain protein.

Vegetarian Protein Reality:

Over the last few decades, wide spread practical experience of vegetarian diet, knowledge of traditional cultures, and hundreds of health/diet studies, all tell a different story.

  • Too much protein is as harmful as too little, and is linked with shorter life expectancy, increased cancer and heart disease risk, widespread obesity and diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney stress, and bad digestion

  • High protein-diets bring about temporary weight-loss, at the expense of overall health, and people quickly regain weight once they return to a normal diet

  • A varied vegetarian diet with a balance of protein, fats & carbohydrates, and adequate calorie intake provides more than enough protein

  • Complete animal protein is not superior to complete protein from more than one plant source – they give the same result in different ways

  • Protein from plant sources doesn't include excess calories from fat, toxic residues, or an overabundance of protein, which stresses the kidneys
Protein deficiency is very rare in the US and is generally diagnosed in people living in countries suffering from famine. It's been estimated that the average person in this country eats two - six times more protein, usually from animals, than is needed for good nutrition.

So then comes the question on Thanksgiving. Am I REALLY NOT going to eat TURKEY on Thanksgiving. And to be completely honest, if i WERE going to eat meat, TURKEY on THANKSGIVING would be the last piece of meat on my list because I know the facts:

There are 300 million turkeys killed each year—more than 40 million during the holiday season alone—for human consumption. Turkeys on factory farms have their beaks and toes cut off without pain relief. They are crammed by the tens of thousands into dark, stifling warehouses where disease, smothering, and heart attacks are common. Today's turkeys are genetically bred to grow so quickly that their bones and leg muscles often give out under the stress of supporting their huge upper bodies. Millions of turkeys die every year from heat exhaustion, freezing, and accidents during transport.

Thousands of free-range turkeys are raised in a single warehouse-like structure forced to stand on accumulated fecal waste and breathe in ammonia fumes. These turkeys are then taken to the slaughterhouse through transport containers where they are hung upside down in shackles. There they cry out in fear and pain as they await their own slaughter. Think of how much it hurts when we get a little speck in our eye, and we might understand the degree of suffering that the turkeys are been forced to endure day after day.

And in an earlier post, I pointed out that the Union of Concerned Scientists points out that 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used to treat healthy livestock...

Anyhow, due to my family being hundreds of miles away, I am spending Thanksgiving at home, alone, with the pooch. I have resorted to the couch, in boy shorts, un-showered, with Forrest Gump on the tube. I will take the opportunity to work on my Weekend Commitments

Oh, and did I mention the house next door was on fire this AM? 5 Fire Trucks parked outside of my window, Channel 5 news, & LOTS of firemen (including the Chief.)

Throughout the week, I have been busy creating my very own little Thanksgiving meal. On the menu: Sweet Potatoe Souflee, Apple Crisp, Butternut Squash Soup, Black Bean Salad, Minnesota Wild Rich & Squash, Spinach Salad, Jalapeno Cornbread, Apple Cider, Cranberry Fruit Salad, and Pumpkin Pie - mostly made from scratch. THAT's enough to be thankful for. (did i ever mention that i LOVE cooking in my kitchen??)

I rarely get excited about the holidays, for various reasons. The #1 reason tends to be the many obligtions that come including: being expected to showing thanks, thinking of thoughtful gifts, (gift-giving is no longer natural - it is EXPECTED), the consumption of garb foods, the guilt of gathering with relatives ONLY once a year , and a years worth of the positive & negative life stories (I feel guilty telling a positive story, when everyone else is living in the negative.)

I DO enjoy Gift Wrap. (actually, obsessed. I have a collection of wrapping paper, bows, string, glitteratti, need I go on?!?!)

And I DO enjoy receiving gifts. Refer back to my Official 2008 Christmas List

OH AND, I do enjoy sending Holiday Cards.

I have been humbled on this day, Nov. 27th, 2008.... Thanksgiving. I will pour one for all my Turkey homies that were literally plumped to death for your dining pleasure.

**Facts Found at:,,,


Dave Q. said...

I regret reading this after eating turkey. Now I feel horrible. I hope the bird we had for dinner had a more humane end than what you described.

sam said...

Well waking up to the sound of fire trucks sounds nice for a black Friday. Can I get a card for the holidays???

benediction said...

My 13 year old has been a vegetarian since she was 8. I'm taking her for a consultation with a nutritionist at Whole Foods so she is making the proper food choices.
Something tells me substituting cards for protein is not the answer.
Excellent post. I greatly struggle over the treatment of animals.

Rice Candy said...

Nice post. All herbivores are friends of mine. :). you might be able to submit an idea for an article . I do have to cover the vegan lifestyle section in the magazine. Although you are not a vegan, alot of ethics are the same. Thank you for your comments and for stopping by.

So@24 said...

I actually really like saying the word "legumes" out loud. I try to incorporate it at least once a week. You have no idea how difficult that is.