Plants: The Original Protein Source (Thinking Beyond Meat)

Samuel Hartman
Louisville Vegetarian Club
Plant-based eating class 3 of 4
[email protected]
“Protein” comes from the Greek word
“proteios” meaning “primary” or “standing in
Each protein molecule consists of amino acids:
nine essential, four nonessential, and eight
Absolutely essential for growth! In general, 50g
minimum of protein per day for most people.
Plants are the original source: the animals who are
carnivores only get their protein from the flesh of animals
who eat plants.
Are we omnivores? This is an ongoing debate. We can eat
meat, but should we?
15,000 years ago, we hunted and gathered out of necessity.
Now, we eat by choice.
Many signs now point to plants at the optimal protein
source. Why? Health, environmental, and ethical
Rather than assume humans have to eat meat,
let the meat eaters show us why it’s important.
Common reasons: protein, vitamins (B12),
minerals, ease of access, and tradition.
All of the nutrients, macro and micro, can be
obtained from plants, and they’re probably
better for you.
Common thinking advocates “lean” cuts of beef,
chicken, pork, fish, etc.
Is this the optimal protein
source? Probably not.
Given the alternatives, meat is
not a health-promoting food,
and can significantly raise
2009 NIH-AARP study (600k): modest increase in total mortality,
cancer mortality, and cardiovascular mortality associated with
red and processed meat intake.
2012 Harvard study (121k): Each extra serving of red meat: 13%
increase in premature death, processed meat: 20%.
2010 EPIC-NL study (38k): Diabetes risk increases with higher
protein risk, specifically animal protein. Vegetable protein not
2010 Low-carb study (130k): Low-carb animal protein diet
associated with higher all-cause mortality, low-carb vegetable
protein diet had the opposite effect.
Okay, we get it: red meat is bad! What about chicken
and fish?
Generic chicken contains: fecal matter, arsenic, E. Coli,
Salmonella/Campylobacter, and drugs
Organic chicken (or turkey) not much cleaner
Fish varies, but often high in: methyl mercury,
organochlorines, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and
other environmental toxins.
Vitamin B12 is crucial, but we need a
tiny amount each day (3-7 mcg – that’s
While we once may have obtained it
naturally, supplementation is typically
required now. It comes from bacteria!
Iron: for men, don’t sweat it. Women
do need more, but spinach, lentils,
and Vitamin C are the ticket!
Mark Bittman, in NYT claimed:
“it’s only human…it’s
traditional…it’s mainstream.”
Don’t sell yourself short –
change is natural – and is often
in the right direction. Ex. racism,
Speciesism: prejudice or bias in favor of the interests
of members of one’s own species (and against…)
What is the difference? Consider the status for
moral worth as sentience: the ability to feel, or
Beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and some
vegetables are full of protein.
Consider 1 cup of: Lentils (18g), Navy
beans (16g), or Quinoa (8g).
1/4 cup of: Hemp seeds (15g), Almonds
(8g), Sunflower seeds (8g)
Simple trade off, or benefit? Nuts and
beans have massive advantages.
Seitan (wheat gluten): High in
protein, low in everything else
Tofu: The classic meat
replacement. Proper cooking is a
Wheat and soy “meat” products:
Tofurky, Field Roast, Boca,
Lightlife, Gardein, etc.
1) Breakfast: tofu scramble, toast, fruit. Lunch: Black
bean & sweet potato salad, fruit. Dinner: Quinoa &
cooked veggies. Snacks: fruit, soy yogurt, trail mix.
Protein: 69g
2) Breakfast: raisin bran, soymilk, banana. Lunch: Bean
chili, salad, cornbread. Dinner: Brown rice/lentil pilaf,
broccoli. Snacks: whole wheat crackers, fruit, nuts,
orange juice. Protein: 87g.
Allergies? Swap soy for almond, rice, coconut. Wheat
cereal/crackers for gluten-free variety.
America’s obsession with meat
belittles the protein sources
that the rest of the world eats:
Masoor daal (red lentils)
Chana Masala (chickpeas)
Yaki-dofu (tofu/soybeans)
Misir Wat (green lentils)
Addis Grill
Killing animals is one thing…but what about torture?
Birds, cows, pigs are “objects” or “commodities,” not
creatures with interests.
Ex. Chickens: unnatural
light, tiny cages,
de-beaked, 6 week of
life, then scalded alive.
Foie gras & veal:
particularly nasty.
Warning: graphic
video (approx. 4
min long)
Humane Society
of the United
Video at :
Animal agriculture takes a huge toll on the earth’s
precious resources:
90% of the world’s soybean crop
is used for animal feed
Livestock contributes to 18% of the
world’s total GHG
70% of Amazonian rainforest
deforestation is due to livestock production
Developed countries must cut meat-eating in half to
stabilize N2O by 2050, or we are doomed.
Burden of proof: why eat meat?
Meat is bad for us; we can get nutrients
elsewhere with ease.
We can reject the past (speciesism) and create
new habits, traditions, ways of eating and living.
Animal agriculture is very, very cruel, and bad for
the environment.
Plants are cheap, healthy, and in abundance. They
are the original, and best, source of protein.
“Perhaps the greatest promise of a plant-based diet, in my view, is that it
can help us evolve. A plant-based diet gives all of us an opportunity to be
transformative agents in the task of creating a more perfect world. This
isn’t hyperbole. If our intentions are to have peace, happiness, kindness,
and abundance, we have to put those intentions into action. Beyond
wanting peace, we have to sow seeds of peace. …[E]ach time we eat we
are given an opportunity to make the world kinder and to reduce the
harm we cause. And to benefit our own health and vitality as we do so!
Our food choices affect others like virtually nothing else we do, rippling
outward and multiplying their impact day by day, year by year, meal by
meal. Every time we choose what to eat we vote in the most democratic
election on the planet. (Kathy Freston)
E-mail: [email protected]
Cell: 956-BE-VEGAN
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