Many people consume animals foods because they believe they are vital to our human physiology and good health. In fact, there is no nutrient required by our bodies that we can’t easily obtain from plant sources. This is especially true in today’s world of abundance and choice, where we can find so many varied foods from around the world, reasonably priced and any time of the year at any basic grocery store.
The most common nutrients that are believed to lack in a vegan diet are protein, B vitamins, iron and calcium.
According to the American Dietetic Association an average vegetarian diet provides twice the amount of protein a human body needs to function healthily, and that most Americans are more in danger of eating too much protein than too little.
Dangers of Consuming too Much Protein
A diet that is too high in protein can impair our kidneys and leach calcium, zinc, vitamin B, iron and magnesium from our bodies. They are also linked with osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and obesity.
High Protein diets also cause our bodies to become increasingly acidic, which encourages the growth of harmful bacteria and damages tissues, organs and cells which contributes to faster aging.
Protein Overload and Bone Health
This overly acidic environment poses further danger to our body as it actually can weaken our bones. As we lower the pH (increase the acidity) with diets high in animal protein, our body is working hard to return itself to it’s specific natural and healthy pH. To do this, it leaches bicarbonates and calcium from our bone tissue because they are alkalizing substances. This process causes a loss of bone density and leads to osteoporosis.
As children and adults we are encouraged by our families, the medical industry, the public school system, advertising, habit and tradition to consume milk, cheese and yogurt. They are touted as an essential part of a healthy diet, and because of their high calcium content, we are told as children they will help us grow big and strong, and as we age, that they will prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. But dairy products, because of their high protein content, are actually making our bones weaker and more prone to osteoporosis and fracture!
The Right Amount of Protein
According to Dr. Andrew Weil our bodies actually require somewhere between 18-60 grams of protein daily, depending on our body size and activity level. This amount can very easily be acquired with a completely vegan diet with the abundance of plant foods that contain high-quality protein in healthy ratios.
Beans- Kidney, Garbanzo, Black, Lima, Fava etc.
Whole Grains- Oat, Rye, Amaranth, Millet, Wheat, Quinoa, Rice, Triticale, Teff, Barley, Buckwheat
Nuts- Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Macadamia, Brazil, Hazelnut, Pecan, Pistachio
Legumes- Peas, Peanuts, Lentils, Soy Beans
Seeds- Sesame, Flax, Pumpkin, Pine nuts
Not to mention the endless combinations of these ingredients to create delicious foods like bread, hummus, nut butters, hempmilk, tempeh, curries, stews, pastas, cereals, sandwiches, soups, veggie burgers, baked goods and so so much more!
Read here to learn more about the correlation between high protein diets and osteoporosis, with plenty of facts and figures!