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Nutrition

If I stop eating animals and animal products, how do I get enough protein?

There's no global issue or epidemic in regards to protein deficiency, except in some developing countries where people are malnourished and don't consume enough calories. The WHO - World Health Organization - suggests 5% daily intake of protein, and not so coincidentally, human mother's milk contains 5% protein, too. WPF experts and advocates recommend a range between 5% and 12% of daily calories in plant-based form, depending on factors such as age, gender, and physical activity. Athletes need more protein than non-athletes, for example. 


There is, however, clear evidence that excessive protein is causing some serious health conditions. ALL foods have protein. Even celery and watermelon have protein. Quinoa, buckwheat, soy, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and nutritional yeast contain all 9 essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), which make these plants complete proteins. Broccoli, a highly recommended food hero, has more protein per calorie than steak. 


More food for thought: we need to address eating too much protein instead of not getting enough of it. The medical term for protein deficiency is kwashiorkor, a condition that nobody has heard of (that's how rampant this isn't). It's time to unveil twisted marketing tactics and powerful protein-based lobbyists, who are hawking protein deficiency as a way to sell products... all at the expense of people becoming sick. Check out The Meat Myth by Dr T Colin Campbell, a world-renowned pioneer on animal vs plant protein.   


My cousin lost 42 pounds doing Atkins and told me that carbs are unhealthy. Is that true?

No. The state known as ketosis is created when the body is deprived of carbohydrates (the primary source of glucose - sugar for energy), which forces the body to use stored fat as an energy source. This low-carb-high-fat-high-protein approach has shown to lower A1C levels (biomarker for diabetes) and has helped many people lose weight short-term. Short-term, this diet is most likely saving some lives among what doctors refer to as morbidly obese individuals. Long-term, keeping our bodies in a perpetual state of ketosis has shown to increase chronic conditions. Again, the human body and brain need complex carbs as the PRIMARY source of energy and nutrition. By the way, intermittent fasting (eating within a time-window such as 16/8 - food consumption within eight hours per day) also creates ketosis. This is successfully used for weight-loss and other health issues and should not be confused with a keto, paleo, or Atkins diet


Fads, short-term solutions, and marketing campaigns work... for a while. This diet is proving to be harmful long-term, mostly due to eating a relatively fat-dense, fiber-poor, nutrient-deficient diet as well as remaining in ketosis for long periods of time. Atkins, etc also offers a green light and gold star for consuming fast food, animals, and animal products. This subject goes pretty deeply into...

identity

cultural realities

childhood memories

family + religious traditions

addiction

neuropsychology

lack of food education

marketing manipulation

The icing on the cake? The food and beverage industries, as well as some celebrities and so-called doctors, are cashing in on this carb-fearing craze. Also, paleo vegans may also be at risk. For losing weight fast, it's working for some people. Otherwise, please re-consider this option and do more research into the potentially harmful effects of long-term ketosis. Fat is a crucial macro-nutrient and is found in WPF form via raw nuts, raw seeds, avocados, olives, and other plants. 


More food for thought: if putting your body in a state of ketosis works for you short-term and your health has improved due to weight-loss, you'll not get any judgements from me. If you're convinced that complex carbs and simple carbs in the form of fruits are harmful, without doing the research needed to find out what's true now and has been true for eons... still no judgements. I hope you'll eventually find your way towards plants. Fiber-rich, nutrient-dense WPF carbs promote life in every possible way. 


Are supplements recommended for plant-based eaters?

Yes, and this subject is passionately debated among health practitioners. Some WPF advocates shun supplements completely, while most would agree with taking vitamin B12. When eating a variety of whole plant foods in abundance, the need for taking most supplements vanishes. Bonus would add: getting off the sofa, sleeping well, feeling love, meditating, and unplugging from electronic devices and social media (and none require a trip to the doctor).


  • The mostly unregulated supplement industry is potentially quite harmful. Some stats: $123 billion in sales revenue globally, which is estimated to reach $230 billion by 2027 (102.1 billion euros / 190.9 billion euros).

  • It's more nutritious to eat a balanced plant-based diet and get our vitamins and minerals through eating whole plant foods. Chewing, swallowing, digesting, and eliminating nutrient-dense whole foods still work wonders. 

  • The one supplement generally recommended for plant-based eaters is vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin is best). B12 is found in plants such as nutritional yeast, nori (seaweed), and mushrooms but in rather small amounts. Even food animals are now given B12 because of poor soil health due to many reasons including: synthetic chemicals, mono-crops, tilling, and letting fields remain bare between seasons. 

  • For those who don't get enough sunshine, vitamin D3 is recommended. "Enough" means about 20 minutes of sunshine daily, directly on approximately two-thirds of our skin's surface. Note: the term "enough" is relative to your geographical location in relation to the Earth's equator. Learn more via Nutrition Facts here.

  • Taking calcium in supplement form is shown to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Ample amounts of calcium can be consumed through plants such as: green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tofu, edamame, tahini, almonds, seeds, black beans, amaranth, teff, wakame, blackberries, raspberries, and oranges.



More food for thought: I take B12, D3, and an amla powder supplement for cholesterol (amla is Indian gooseberries). All the research I've done, looking at all sides of this debate, point to these three supplements for my age, biology, daily diet, and geographical location. Other supplements often discussed in the WPF community are K2, chlorella, magnesium, omegas (ALA, DHA, EPA), pre-biotic fiber, and mycelium (mushrooms). Certainly, supplementation will continue to be debated... so stay tuned. For me and many WPF advocates, almost all of our vitamins and minerals are eaten via whole plants. 


Is a WPF diet safe for kids and the elderly - don't they have unique nutritional needs?

Yes, it's safe and yes, during each stage of life, our body and brain have different nutritional needs. For example, daily protein intake is higher for kids and the elderly, and B12 is recommended for people over 55, even if they're not plant-based. There's ample plant-focused literature available, based on sound research studies, to help you navigate the intricacies of this topic. I refer readers to excellent resources with valuable information on children and the elderly:


  • Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University  LINK

  • Plant-Based Juniors - Alex Caspero, MA, RDN and Whitney E, RD  LINK

  • Dr Neal Barnard at the PCRM  LINK 

  • Dr Reshma Shah  LINK 

  • The Brain Docs (Team Sherzai)  LINK


More food for thought: because I'm child-free and both of my parents have passed away, I don't have up-close-and-personal experience in this arena. As an educator who is also focused on young people, I include child development and nutrition in my research. I hope the resources above support your own food education adventure, too. 


I'm vegetarian and eat eggs and cheese. Aren't these foods healthier than meat?

Overall, our bodies don't differentiate that much between saturated fat from plants versus saturated fat from animals, aside from any added nutrients in plants such as minerals. Too much trans and saturated fat, and even too much unsaturated fat, can overload our endothelial cells (which create a cardio-protective layer of the blood vessel wall), clog arteries, and can contribute to LDL cholesterol build up, heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. 


Egg yolks have a crazy-high concentration of cholesterol. Plus, not only is cheese high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, it's also addictive. It contains casein, the protein in mammal's milk, which releases an opiate compound called casomorphinsIs it any wonder we can't get enough of this delicious, calorie-dense, high-fat food? Fun factoid: cheese is so addictive, it's the number one food vegans and WPF advocates tend to let go of last. Greek yoghurt was my nemesis.


More food for thought: Most dairy products and eggs are derived from industrial, animal-factory farms called CAFOs similar to how cattle, pigs, and fish are raised. Overuse of antibiotics for food animals is also a major concern. Also, please keep in mind that the egg and dairy lobbies are clever and powerful (and have deep pockets). There's no judgement here - just be careful and get more food educated. BTW: I was a vegetarian for quite a long time before learning more about and transitioning towards WPF.

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