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Vegetarians’ favorite question

Robyn Openshaw - Feb 18, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

My daughter Emma, 16, and I had a convo the other day about how every vegetarian gets sick of the question, “How do you get your protein?” (I bet we hear from some of them here!)

I often point those asking that question to my report HERE called “Protein: Are We Deficient? Or Overdosing?”

A soccer teammate of Emma’s props up her diet with protein shakes. EVEN THE VEGANS BUY INTO THE PROTEIN MYTH! And she’s not healthy. This is the logical fallacy:

“I know a vegetarian, and she’s not healthy. Therefore we must need meat to be healthy.”

Nearly every logical fallacy applies here, and I love exposing logical fallacies, but don’t want to deliver a dissertation on all the ways that fails. My readers are smart and you can poke holes in that kind of thinking yourself.

Most if not all our degenerative diseases are related to undigested proteins floating in our bloodstream. That’s right, our EXCESSIVE PROTEIN consumption is killing us. We do NOT need 20% animal protein, thank you very much Dr. Robert Atkins. (It didn’t work very well for him, did it?)

Those of you eating a plant-based diet, what’s your favorite response to that question, “Where do you get your protein?”

Posted in: Lifestyle, Whole Food

23 thoughts on “Vegetarians’ favorite question”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would love to hear others responses to this question! I have been a follower of yours for a long time now and although I have no adopted all of the 12 steps, I do find that I’m healthier with cutting out dairy, sugar, and processed foods and drinking my green smoothies.

    I’m curious about others answers because it seems every single person I know is doing the Paleo/Primal eating which includes eating a boat load of animal protein. Of course it does say to eat eat a lot of veggies, limit your fruits to 1-3 servings a day but most important to eat that animal protein which includes bacon (Now I have not looked up this way of eating, I’m going off of what all my friends are telling me). What kills me is that the weight is falling off of them.

    I was just telling my husband tonight that I’m so darn confused……I watched Forks Over Knives and totally understand that………and then I hear about all this Paleo stuff and seeing the wonders the OUTSIDE of them is looking and I wish I could shed the weight too!

    So I’m anxious to hear answers to this question!!!!!!!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Tina, there are ALWAYS fad diets going on, and Paleo/Primal is the fad du jour! They are losing weight because they aren’t eating processed food. They are also increasing their disease risk with all the meat.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I say just skip the animal and eat what they eat!

    And here’s a question for you…. my kids like to chew gum, and it’s such a handy thing to have on hand when they need a distraction somehow. But what kind should I buy them? Is is better to just buy the sugar gum? Or the ones made with artificial sweetener? How much of that do they end up swallowing? And is it bad for them? Help?

    I read your blog faithfully and have learned so much from you! So thank you!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Hi Shellie, thank you for the lovely Christmas card and letter, I loved it! Get chewing gum from the health food store that doesn’t have Nutrasweet in it. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    Saturday, February 18, 2012, I began the rejuvelac. It will be ready in 4 to 5 days. I will replace the wather in my smoothie by that. I am very excited.

  4. Very interesting point you make there that I often read in blog responses to such a question: ‘I know a vegetarian who isn’t healthy, therefore we must need animal protein’. How about all the unhealthy meat eaters – I cannot bring myself to comment about it as it’s just so absurd. The fact is that there is no conclusive evidence either way (except that eating TOO much and processed animal protein is NOT a good idea). There are healthy vegetarians and healthy meat eaters and each party will find their response to whatever questioning they are faced with. I personally feel that this is a highly emotive topic that is best left to stating the facts, the extremes and letting each find out what suits them as we simply won’t find a right or wrong. To eat meat or not to eat meat is centuries old and each new generation needs to adapt to what suits them in their current circumstances.
    I myself am a vegetarian and as a Naturopathic Nutritionist I do not expect nor tell my clients that they also much be. I simply put their fears to rest about the protein, calcium and steer them in the direction of good quality grass fed meats/wild caught fish.
    Thank you for stating the obvious question that I never dared to answer on ‘meating eating posts’!

  5. Anonymous says:

    beans, fish, shakes, nuts

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love to ask them back, “Where do you think a cow or a gorilla gets their protein?”

  7. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t been asked that question in a long, long time but when it was asked I would usually say : “I try to stay away from protein myself.” Then depending on what the follow-up is I might say something like “Besides there is protein in everything you eat, even broccoli.” And maybe add “Eating excessive protein, which is easy to do, causes way more health issues than any protein deficiency which, by the way, along with B-12 deficiency has never been document in the U.S. on anyone who was getting enough calories to maintain their own weight.” I don’t know if any of what I said was true but it usually shut detractors up and amused others…

  8. I just show them this video! (Although I still eat meat occasionally, but it’s more like 5%– certainly not 20%!):

  9. Anonymous says:

    I started working out with a trainer and am being told that I need to eat my body weight in protein a day to lose weight and gain muscle. This seems ridiculous to me and confuses the crap out of me. 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    I started working out with a trainer and am being told that I need to eat my body weight in protein a day to lose weight and gain muscle. Every trainer I talk to says the same thing. This seems ridiculous to me and confusing. 🙂

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Donna, every trainer seems to perpetuate that bad advice. It’s bad advice. They are preoccupied with building fast muscle mass, rather than being healthy. Plus they have little or no valid nutritional training. (Most dieticians, medical doctors and nurses, and even some nutritionists are lacking in accurate and helpful nutrition education too!)

  11. Anonymous says:

    My favorite response to that question is to respond with a question: Where do you think the cows you eat got their protein from? Then a conversation begins about how much protein plant food provides.

  12. All foods contain protein and it’s actually pretty difficult to get less than you need if you eat a whole foods diet.
    Then if they persist I say, “beans.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    When people ask me that, I take a deep breath. I actually feel sympathy for them at that moment. I know they are still believing the lies told to them by the food industries, and they have a lot to un-learn. First, I always ask if they sincerely want to know. Then I tell them that we have all been lied to and that we don’t need the amount of protein that we are told we need. I then tell them all that contaminated animal flesh is a huge player in sickness and death. I mention the plant based diet my hubby and I eat, and all the benefits we have experienced. If they haven’t shut down by that time, I refer them to, The China Study, and doctors Campbell, McDougall, Fuhrman, Esseltyn, and Barnard on You Tube. I tell them to read for themselves the truth about meat and dairy. I also tell them to watch Forks Over Knives, and Food Matters, and Food Inc. It’s surprising how many meat eating people have heard of these docs. but haven’t watched them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My boss is one of these people. She’s always trying new diet fads and keeps a tin of designer whey powder on her desk. Probably 1 in 5 times she catches me with a green smoothie (which I drink 2 of everyday) she suggests adding protein powder. When I eat my quinoa salad, she tells me that if I had cooked it in chicken broth it would be a complete protein. Not only is this obnoxious, it’s also not true. It is a great exercise in self control to keep my thoughts to myself. I usually just say “I don’t really buy into the protein powder thing,” and call it a day. I also smile in smug satisfaction that I trained like a warrior that morning and have the quads and biceps to prove it–no protein powder required 🙂

  15. Anonymous says:

    My husband is a former body builder who has recently converted with me to a whole foods plant based diet. He understands he doesn’t need animal protein anymore but really tries to pile on the PLANT protein because he wants to keep his “bulk”. So here’s my question… since he still has this belief that he needs LOTS of protein to build muscle, is that still over doing it on protein? Or is it ok because it’s plant protein? Curious about your thoughts.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Marissa, if he has an unnaturally (built up beyond what exists normally) muscular body, he might need extra protein to maintain. Most people really don’t.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Oh Robyn, how I thought of you today when I took my 4 yr old to the pediatrician for her annual checkup. Both the nurse and doctor had a standard series of questions about my daughter’s eating habits and development. First question-how much milk does your daughter drink per day in ounces? Me: none. I told them she drinks water. Then they asked about cheese or other dairy. Me again: none. Then they asked how she gets calcium – I said from the fruits and vegetables she eats. They asked if she takes vitamin supplements-me: no. At this point, I told them that we have eliminated most meat and dairy from our diet and that we primarily eat fruits and vegetables now. They asked….wait for it…how does she get protein? I said from her vegetables like broccoli and spinach. During all these questions, my very outspoken 6 yr old daughter was adding her own commentary – we drink green smoothies every day and we eat salad and we eat lots of fruits and vegetables and we don’t drink cows milk anymore.

    It’s no wonder with this line of questioning from doctors that the public thinks/assumes their kids should be drinking cow’s milk or eating dairy or getting all of their protein from meat. Thankfully, from your website and from reading The China Study, etc.I felt armed with correct information and was confident in answering the doctors questions with the truth about what we DON’T eat at our house 🙂

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure if you’ll have an answer to this but how much protein do pregnant women REALLY need? I’ve read most sources between 70-80 grams a day… I know there are many pregnant vegetarians/vegans out there. I teach a birthing class and would like to find some good research/articles on this subject for my mothers.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m sooooo confused on this issue. Vegetables might have a high percentage of protein, but they are low calorie, therefore the actual grams of protein are very small. Protein and carbohydrates seem to be on a continuum. If you reduce the grams protein, you increase the grams carbs, and whether the carbs are “good” or “bad” I just feel terrible when the ratio of carbs is very high in relation to the protein. Six months ago my family quit green smoothies and and stocked up on protein powder instead. I had been studying how to deal with severe behavior problems through diet and I kept reading “protein, protein, animal protein”. It about killed me, I’ve lived my life believing that less protein was better, but my kids all got better, instantly with MORE. The result was indisputable and dramatic. Increased protein helped me overcome depression as well. When I lapse on monitoring protein intake it shows up in my kids behavior instantly. I keep trying to figure out how to get adequate protein on a whole foods diet, I stare at the list of beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and broccoli and it just isn’t enough, we’d have to eat all day long. This comment is off-topic, so you don’t have to post it, but I just had to write it anyway.

  19. Don says:

    I like the way that Stanley Burroughs writes in his book, “The Master Cleanser”. Quote:’ Often the question is asked about the need for amino acids, and animal protein foods. The need is highly exaggerated as only 16% or our body is protein. The answer to the question is very simple. We first need to understand that pure protein is primarily nitrogen, with oxygen, hydrogen and some carbon. We all know we get a large share of our oxygen and hydrogen needs for the air along with some carbon. There is four times the amount of nitrogen in the same air as there is oxygen, hydrogen and carbon combined. Since we are able to utilize and assimilate a large amount of our needs of these elements into our bodies we are able to assimilate and build nitrogen also into our bodies as protein. This is done by natural bacteria action which is capable of converting it to our use. From the combination of the best of foods and clean air we are able to create our own amino acids, just as well as the animals do. We never try to feed amino acids to the animals. Thus we are able to eliminate the need for toxic dead animal flesh and have no further need to worry about our constant source of protein. Eat only the best variety of fruits, berries, nuts, vegetables, seeds and sprouted seeds for a further complete source of protein.”

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