Day two of Meatless August was pretty uneventful. Breakfast was yogurt and granola. Lunch was last night’s leftovers, spaghetti with broccoli and squash in garlic cream sauce. Mid-afternoon snack of a protein shake. Dinner was black bean tostadas.
One of the concerns people often express about plant-based diets is their fear they won’t get enough protein. In recent years, protein has become the darling of the three macro-nutrients: fats, carbohydrates (carbs) and protein. Some thirty years ago when I was doing triathlons, the pre-race regimen was carb depletion followed by carbo loading. The notion was, for the week leading up to the race you deprived yourself of carbs for five days. Then on day six you stuffed as many carbs as you could into your belly. Pancakes, bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, with the (theoretical) result being that your glycogen stores (the fuel you use in endurance sports) were pumped up to overflowing, which would power you through the race.
In the past 10 years, further research has shown that carbs are best utilized when protein is present. The carb depletion followed by carbo loading to the exclusion of protein was shown false. Also, too much carbohydrate intake has been shown to cause or exacerbate a number of problems, including diabetes and high blood sugar. As a result carbs fell out of favor as evidenced by a number of low carb diets such at Atkins, South Beach and others.
From all of this, protein has emerged as the king of nutrients to many people. Since meat and protein are nearly synonymous, lack of meat is equated with protein deprivation. Therefore, a plant based diet is unhealthy.
That reasoning is false because there are a number of non-meat foods that are high in protein. On one website that I found, of the top five protein sources, only one, oysters, was meat. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, was number 1. Oysters came in second, followed by cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and eggs.
There is no reason that a plant based diet will fail to deliver enough protein. The key is to choose food wisely. But, of course, that is the key to anything you eat.