As I skim through several blogs online discussing, complaining and fretting over the inadequacy of vegetarian sources of protein, I am forced to smile over my morning cup of coffee. America’s favorite debate seems to me little more than a big fuss over a trifle, a perfect example of “much ado about nothing”. While most vegetarians are at a lack of rebuttals when their diet is criticized for its deficiencies in protein and its need for complicated solutions, the diet is hardly to blame. It is the misconceptions clouding the debate that are exploited by the overpowering “carnivores” to condemn a diet void of animal proteins.
It may come off as a pleasant surprise to my veggie readers that a “carnivorous diet” actually means excess levels of protein and therefore, in essence vegetarians can conveniently get sufficiently healthy level of proteins with a not-too-complicated vegetarian diet. Even if you were to stick to only one of the foods amongst the variety of options available to you in a vegetarian diet you are likely to meet the recommendations for protein as long as the diet contains enough energy calories to maintain weight.
Although a single source diet would require large amounts of the source to be consumed such as six and a half large potatoes for an adult male if he were to eat only potatoes, this is never the case. Vegetarians have the option to choose from a variety of vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds and most choose to do so. After all, a desire for variety is hardly a carnivorous trait. It is for this reason that there is no need for strict protein combination to meet the approximate requirement of 1 gram of plant protein per kilogram of body weight.
However, a varied diet ensures that plants that lack adequate proportions of the eight essential amino acids will be compensated by other sources in the diet. It is for this reason that a well-balanced diet is an excellent source of adequate but not excessive protein. Furthermore, it is worthy of notice that the body is capable of storing the essential amino acids for a short period of time and therefore the preferred practice of protein complementing may occur over several meals, a fact that is in contrast to the myth that a variety of plant proteins need to be combined within a single meal to gain the required portions of amino acids.
Is it not true then that the debate over protein sufficiency in vegetarian diets is merely an upheaval inspired by the false impressions that scar the common notions about the significance of proteins in our life? Is it not fair to claim that it is a vegetarian diet and not its counterpart that ensures a healthy dose of protein? Is it not true then that most of the discussions aimed at condemning vegetarian diets are merely illustrations of much ado about nothing? The question consequently is not if we are getting enough proteins, it is if we are getting too much protein.
What are some of your favorite vegetarian sources of protein?