Busting The Protein Myth
Did you know that haemoglobin, a primary carrier of oxygen in the blood, is, in fact a protein? While we may have a basic knowledge of what protein is and how important it is for a balanced diet, how well do we truly understand how it impacts our body and health?
Protein consists of long chains of amino acids and serves greatly in ensuring the growth, strength, and recovery of our body. Protein can be structural (like collagen) or hormonal (like insulin), and can also operate as a carrier (like haemoglobin) or enzymes, which are catalysts and allow our bodies to generate chemical reactions and stimuli to our surroundings. Protein can also operate as a neurotransmitter. Aesthetically, it is also crucial for the health and development of our muscles, skin, bones, and hair, hence forming a great majority of a perfectly balanced healthy diet.
The recommended daily intake, or Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), of protein, is 0.8 gm per kg of body weight. This amounts to 56 gm per day for an average adult man and 46 gm per day for an average adult woman. To maintain good health and meet daily intake, only about one calorie out of every 10 we consume needs to come from protein. This amount is comfortably accommodated in a vegan diet that is plant-based and utilizes vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds to meet protein requirements. Most of these food groups are protein-rich and can adequately meet the suggested intake.
So, why do we continue to believe that a vegetarian diet can’t meet protein needs? Why do we assume that a plant-based diet would fail us in that requirement?
A vegan diet containing vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, will rarely have any difficulty sufficing protein needs as long as it contains enough energy (calories) to maintain weight. A good vegan diet can provide multiple health benefits such as:
● ¾ – ½ lower rates of high blood pressure
● ⅔ lower risk of type-2 diabetes
● 15–20% lower risk of cancer
● Significantly lower cholesterol levels
Ensuring a balanced intake of protein-rich foods such as kidney beans and soy meats, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, tempeh, tofu, peanuts, and soy milk can allow one’s health to thrive within a plant-based lifestyle. An informed approach to veganism can help one tackle obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases, and provide more antioxidants and fibre than a standard unregulated diet. A day every week of eating plant-based food can help prevent or reverse chronic health conditions.
The ever-growing meat industry raising billions of animals for food each year contributes significantly to climate change, uses a tremendous amount of land, water, and other precious natural resources and heavily pollutes the same. Replacing meat, dairy, and eggs with plant-based proteins even once a week has proved to enhance energy and prevent diseases.
Not only is veganism beneficial to an individual’s health, it is also beneficial to our environment and to the many animals that are killed for their meat in order to meet commercial requirements for consumption.
Did you know? More than 80.3 billion land animals are raised and slaughtered for food globally each year for us 7.8 billion humans. That’s almost 10 animals killed for every human being each year, and that’s excluding sea life consumed every year. In totality, close to 1.1 million animals are killed for food every single hour. Unbelievable waste of beautiful animal lives!
By saying no to meat, you’re joining hands with many who have turned to plant-based diets to oppose speciesism and animal rights violations made in animal agriculture. With the meat you eat, you should be growingly aware of the process that’s brought that meat to your table. 99% of meat come from cruel slaughterhouses and is subject to abusive treatment all throughout their life; these animals like cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, rabbits, and turkeys, are bred to be killed and shown no compassion.
By adopting a plant-based diet, you’d be part of a movement that saves billions of land animals from cruel farming every single year!
Animal agriculture also contributes to human-made greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and air pollution. Livestock factory farming contributes to almost 15% of global greenhouse emissions. These factories also use up enormous quantities of water, dispensing dirty water that pollutes clean waterways and systems. The production of 1 kg of chicken would consume close to 4325 litres of water, while the production of 1 kg of cereals would consume only 1644 litres in comparison. What we consume and what we produce have a huge impact on the way in which we utilize our resources and affect the global environment.
While dairy has always constituted an enormous part of our diets, what remains to be understood and opposed is how dairy farms generate enormous waste, push animals to increase production, or cruelly end their lives when the demands aren’t met. It is a disruptive exercise that reduces animals from being used as merely, production assets.
All in all, a plant-based diet can change your health for the better, and also help improve the condition of animals and habitats suffering from cruel treatment, abuse, pollution, and environmental change around the world.