Part of a macrobiotic meal prepares by Susan Waxman and students at a recent Strengthening Health Intensive seminar

Vegan Diet Misconceptions

One of the common misconceptions about vegan diets is that they are deficient in protein due to the lack of animal and dairy foods. However, all foods in their natural state contain protein; it is nearly impossible to have a protein deficiency. Eating a variety of grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, naturally pickled and fermented foods, provides the most complete and high-quality protein available.

Animal Protein vs Plant Protein

The research of T. Colin Campbell brings to light epigenetics, and how our food choices regulate how our genes express themselves. It seems the combination of animal and dairy foods moves us closer to the potential to develop cancer. His research demonstrates that consuming casein (dairy protein) has a stronger potential to cause cancer than red meat. At first, I was surprised about these findings, but upon thinking, it makes perfect sense.

When we eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, we are getting protein directly from nature. On the other hand, when we eat meat, we receive second-hand protein as well as the toxic waste produced by the animal through processing the protein. When we eat dairy foods, we receive third-hand protein, as the food went through another stage of processing in the animal. What we are told about the source of superior protein is actually much more inferior. Not only that, but the commercial conditions in which most animals are raised increases the amount of toxicity we receive from these animal products.

What we eat today enters our blood plasma by tomorrow. Plasma is the liquid portion of our blood that carries nutrients and transports waste to be eliminated. It makes up about 55 percent of our blood, and renews itself every ten days. So choosing a variety of plant-based foods over a 10 day period creates the best quality blood.

Plant Protein is Better

My long term observation has been that people naturally lose their taste for animal and dairy foods once they base their diet on grains, beans, and vegetables. I find it interesting that most macrobiotic children are in the top 50% of their class for height and weight. They are generally raised on what is considered a low-protein diet. Macrobiotic children raised eating a variety of healthy foods are never thinking about individual nutrients. Food is a source of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual nourishment. Many of these children often have little taste for many protein-rich foods other than tofu and broccoli. Shifting our thinking away from food as a set of composite nutrients is one of the keys for adopting a healthy and satisfying way of eating.

Nature provides for us abundantly, and choosing plant-based foods that nourish us directly gives us the additional satisfaction of feeling a deeper connection with nature.