The Protein Primer

Man chomping another man\'s head. Where do you get your protein?“Where do you get your protein?” If you’re vegan, your eyes probably ache from all the times you’ve rolled them from getting that most-frequent of questions. If you’re not vegan, you probably wonder, “Where do vegans get their protein?” and “Isn’t protein from animals better?”

Kathy Freston, author of the new Quantum Wellness, which is what helped spark Oprah to take her 21-day cleanse, posted a column today on the Huffington Post about this very issue. “Getting Past the ‘Protein Myth’” outlines the details about why protein isn’t the big deal people make it out to be, and just where vegans do get their protein. As Freston says, “I get my protein the same way everyone else does — I eat!”

Whether you’re vegan or not, it’s important to expand our knowledge about the nutrients we need, how to get them, and the effects on our bodies of getting these nutrients from different sources. Below are a sampling of reputable sources for more information about protein and other nutrients. If you’re vegan, please consider reading up so that you can give knowledgeable, accurate responses to people who have questions (and challenges). Omnivores (or, as I like to call you, pre-vegans :)), please consider reading up so that you can make well-informed choices about what you put into your body and how it can help, or harm you.

These resources focus solely on the health aspects of a vegan diet.

VeganHealth.org, the site by Vegan Outreach co-founder/President and Registered Dietician includes basic information about protein and other essential nutrients for following a healthy, plant-based diet.

The Vegetarian Resource Group has several articles about veg nutrition, written by Reed Mangels, Ph.D, R.D.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has several downloadable articles about nutrition.

Of course, there are a variety of excellent books on veg health. Two such titles are The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell and Becoming Vegan by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis.

And, straight from the American Dietetic Association, which isn’t a pro-veg group, is the 2003 position paper on vegetarian diets.

And remember two of the important tenets of MOGO: critical thinking and accurate information. If you read that soy is evil or that milk is the best source of calcium, or that fish are the best source of omega-3s, or that vegans never get sick or gain weight, be sure to check a variety of reputable sources. (It’s also fun to read all the comments to Freston’s post with a critical and thoughtful eye.)

~ Marsha

Photo courtesy of pinguino.

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