The excessive concern about protein has made matters worse through recommending animal and dairy foods as the primary sources. A consistent question, even among clients and people trying to integrate plant-abundant meals is: Where is the protein? We are deeply indoctrinated about protein as a nutrient. It is an appropriate time to create a more accurate, healthy view and approach to our basic nutrients, including protein.
The model for the world’s traditional diets were grains, beans, and vegetables as the mainstays. These mainstays were complemented by seeds, nuts, and fruits, and further supplemented in small amounts by animal and dairy foods. It may surprise you to see how small a role animal and dairy foods played in most people’s diets prior to the Industrial Revolution. Much of our modern confusion began when foods were broken down into nutrients, which lead us to lose touch with food itself. Furthermore, the format of meals for the modern Western diet changed from whole foods and dishes to proteins and starches (ex: meat and potatoes). This model is still followed today even in vegan restaurants. It is disappointing and interesting that many vegan and vegetarian restaurants follow the protein and starch format for meals. This transition helped to unduly emphasize the need and importance of protein.
Animal foods have a much denser, more concentrated energy than most plant foods. However, animal and dairy foods are more difficult to process, more acidifying, and produce more waste. Over-nutrition, in the form of energy-dense animal and dairy foods has the effect of acidifying the blood and either taxing or stagnating circulation. Animal and dairy foods do provide quick energy, at a price. Though wind and rain are necessary for all of life, too much and all at once can have devastating effects.
It is interesting how the animal and dairy industry has created this mythology that is finally starting to dissolve. Consider the source of protein. Animals eat plants, which creates second-hand protein, and can produce harmful by-products. When we eat dairy foods, we receive third-hand protein, as the food went through another stage of processing in the animal. The most abundant and highest-quality nutrients come directly from the Earth. So, 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. Even without commercial conditions, receiving second-hand or third-hand protein from animals and dairy foods remains a fact.
If you have or feel a need for animal foods because of a damaged digestive system or excessive medical treatments, try cooking animal foods with grain, bean, or vegetable dishes (such as beef and barley stew).
Every 10 days, the liquid portion of blood, plasma, is renewed. Eating a variety of plant-based foods over a ten day period provides the optimal amount of the highest quality proteins available. And, you don’t even have to think about it.
It is more important to think about the variety of foods and combinations to include that satisfies. This makes eating food fun again. When we return to the traditional world-wide format of meals, we enjoy the most complete, enjoyable, and satisfying nutrition. Try basing your meals around grains, beans, and vegetables for 10 days and see how you feel.
For information about How to Incorporate Carbohydrates Into a Diet Plan or Good vs Bad Sugars – or more general topics about nutrition, macrobiotics, and living a healthy lifestyle – please visit Denny’s macrobiotic blog.