Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Little Bit of a Rant

So last month, I was leisurely browsing through Facebook and I saw the following comment on a friend of mine's status about Veganism:

"Lol you should have told her that protein from plants don't completely replace animal protein and need supplements to be "healthy". Or law of nature. No explanation needed."

My mind was blown. I couldn't believe that people still bought into that myth. I raged for a second, lulzed it off, and then continued my day. After this, I started to notice that Reddit and the internet in general is super hostile towards vegetarians/vegans. Like I can sorta understand hating PETA since they are some of the best trolls in the world, but name calling vegetarians and being ignorant of basic nutritional facts seems uncharacteristic of a culture of people who pride themselves on intellectualism. Subsequent talks with my parents and with JSJ have prompted me to write this article. This article is in no way an attempt to convert anyone or something stupid like that. I'm writing it because at this point I feel the need to defend myself a little bit.

I'm not even sure what this is.

So first off, I need to clarify how much protein our bodies actually need per day. The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is approximately 0.8 grams/kg per day for adults. This is not a lot of protein at all. The average amount of protein you get from eating 3oz of steak or chicken is about 21 grams of protein. I weigh around 145 lbs (65.8kg), so I need about 52 grams of protein per day. This means I can eat a 6oz steak and get almost all of the protein I need for the entire day, which is pretty absurdly small amount. The average American eats about 91 grams of protein a day, which is simply overkill.

Granted some Americans look like this guy.

Now lets talk about complete and incomplete proteins. A complete protein is a protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein, and these nine amino acids are ones that our bodies cannot naturally produce. Complete protein comes mostly from animal based products such as meat, dairy, eggs, etc. However, soy and quinoa also are considered complete proteins. Yes soy is a complete protein. There is a lot of confusion regarding this, since originally it was not considered by nutritionist to be a complete protein. As of 1991, the FDA investigated it further and officially declared soy a complete protein.

An incomplete protein as you may have already surmised, does not have all nine essential amino acids. Most plant and grain proteins are incomplete, which is where the myth that meat proteins are better than plant proteins comes from. Most plant proteins are lacking in only a couple of amino acids, and these amino acids can easily be made up by pairing them with complementary foods. Now this might seem difficult, but its really not. Rice + Beans = Complete Protein. Peanut Butter + Bread = Complete Protein. You don't even need to pair together these foods at the same time. They can be separated by no greater than 24 hours. Its really not that hard.

I've heard the argument that plant animo acids are inferior to animal based amino acids. I'm really confused about where this came from, as it makes zero sense to me. Your body doesn't care where its getting the animo acid, just that its getting it. Your body can't tell the difference between Lysine from a steak and Lysine from black beans.

Since I'm only a psuedo vegetarian (I still eat eggs and dairy), I really have no concerns about getting proper nutrition. If I was full blown vegan, I would be more concerned with getting enough B12 and Iron than I would be concerned about protein. The protein argument makes no sense and is very easily debunked (I researched everything in this article in about 5 minutes online). Getting adequate nutrition is simply about paying more attention to what you eat and trying to have a balanced diet. Vegetarian or not, everyone should be doing that anyways.


  1. Seeing all of those wild animals attacking Winnie the Pooh made me hungry.

  2. The truth is, if you've been saved, you don't need to eat anything. If you pray hard enough, Jesus will give you amino acids with his love.

  3. Those pictures are amazing.

    My one problem with vegetarianism is from a personal dietary standpoint (as I'm currently on one of my stints), and is in no way a rebuttal. When I cut out meat, I tend to eat more dairy and bad carbs. Cheese, milk, white rice, flour pasta, bread. This has a habit of (1) making me gain weight, and (2) making me feel less healthy.

    Do you have any go-to nutrition guides for vegetarians?

  4. I don't really. I'm sure you could find a decent one online though. I'm sure you already know most of this stuff, but here are some random tips anyways.

    If the problem is that you always feel a little bit hungry because you have no meat on your plate, then the best thing you can do is make sure you are eating whole wheat pastas, brown rice, etc. The extra fiber makes you fuller and keeps you fuller for longer, so it really helps mitigate that problem. For the same reason, eat a lot of beans. Black and Garbanzo beans are stables in the Luke and Alex diet.

    Don't forget about the meat substitutes. If you're worried about the phytoestrogens in soy, then just use items which have a soy/gluten mix like Smart Ground. Also, we eat eggs several times a week.

    Lastly, if there is anything that you use as a comfort food don't buy it for a while. Like, I can't have tortillas in the house because if they're here than I'll just eat quesadillas everyday.

  5. I also mustn't buy tortillas and/or shredded or Mexican-style cheese because I will gorge on quesadillas. Also, booo gluten.

  6. If I wanted a balanced diet I'd eat a gymnast. Also, Quinoa is good.