Recently, I visited a restaurant billing itself as a place to “discover how good veggies can be.” But when I reached the place in line where I could add meat or eggs to my veggie-loaded plate, the server asked, “Would you like to add protein?”
I simply responded, “No, thanks!” What I didn’t say was “I already have plenty of protein on my plate, thank you.”
I ate my meal, mulling over the fact that this veggie-forward restaurant concept trains their employees to associate protein with meat. A more appropriate question from the server would have been,“Would you like to add cholesterol?”
Waxy, fatlike cholesterol is the one compound found abundantly in meat, dairy foods and eggs, but completely absent from plants. Protein, however, is abundant in both animals and plants.
In our society, getting enough protein is a complete non-issue.
When’s the last time you (or anyone you know) heard of someone diagnosed with the kwashiorkor or marasumus protein deficiency? Probably never, unless you’re in an area of extreme poverty and starvation.
Yes, “protein” is a necessary macronutrient. But its importance has been greatly overstated as a marketing ploy. Most people in developed countries worry excessively about a nutrient they need not worry about at all!
As I mentioned last week, the largest study of non-vegetarian and vegan nutrient intake to date found both groups consumed nearly the same amount of protein.
Incredibly, it was 70 percent more than the recommended daily allowance! If anything, we’re overeating protein.
In this NutritionFacts video, Dr. Greger warns:
“… [T]here is currently no reasonable scientific basis to recommend protein consumption above the current recommended daily allowance, due to its potential disease risks.”
High-protein diets, he says, have been associated with:
increased cancer risk
worsening of coronary artery disease
disorders of bone and calcium balance
disorders of kidney function
disorders of the liver
In another video, he observes, “Substantial evidence now suggests that high protein diets during pregnancy have adverse effects on the fetus.”
And a USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Longevity study of data collected for nearly 20 years from nearly 6,200 respondents aged 50 to 65 found:
“Respondents aged 50-65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years.”
This USC News article calls those figures “a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.” The study’s co-author Professor Valter D. Longo acknowledges that everyone eventually develops pre-cancerous cells.
The real issue is whether or not the cancer progresses. Longo adds, “Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does [progress] is protein intake.”
So, the next time a food server points at the meat and asks you if you’d like to “add protein?”
Just say “NO!” The odds are that your plant-based meal already contains more than enough. If so, how worried should you be about plant-protein?
More on this tomorrow.