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Meals with no protein

danna Jun 23, 2011 12:22 PM

So...this has started to alternately annoy and confuse me: So often in food writing, I see reference made to "a great meatless meal" or " a perfect substitute for vegetarians" or making something "healthier", but the meal has basically no protein, as in this little sidebar in BA this month...


I don't understand how this writer thinks eating a portabello mushroom soaked in olive oil and spread with pesto is healthier than a 95% lean burger. Doesn't she think a healthy meal has some protein in it? (i realize there are a few grams of incomplete protein in the mushroom, but still) And while olive oil is healthier than cow fat, 1/4 lb. cooked lean burger has 26 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fat. You get about a teaspoon of pesto for 6.5 fat grams. Add the marinade and a realistic amount of pesto, and that burger is going to be at least 3x the fat.

I realize that lots of Americans eat WAY more meat than they need...but I don't think that's a reason to imply that it's healthier to get too little protein. I see a lot of main course recipes that have no damn protein...not only no egg/dairy/soy component, but as far as I can tell, no significant amount of complementary vegetable proteins.

What do y'all think?

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  1. f
    FEF RE: danna Jun 23, 2011 02:30 PM

    I don't know the answer to your question. It blows my mind that people with so little knowledge get paid the big bucks to write food articles.

    For example, the fat in a beef steak is almost 50% monounsaturated fats. For some reason that's bad, but olive oil with 70% monounsaturated fats is good?


    Or soy is promoted as the perfect protein, but it's been tied to early puberty in girls, low sperm count in men and thyroid disease. Health agencies in several other countries have issued health warnings about soy, but here in the US, it's in dozens of items as fillers.


    Personally, I don't think you can eat too much fresh meat. That processed stuff is a different story. When the first results of the Framingham Study were finally published in an obscure medical journal, they flew in the face of the idea that saturated fats were causing heart disease and death. There as never been a study that tied CHD to saturated fats. Even back in WWII, medical research showed that young Japanese soldiers had basically the same cholesterol rates as young American soldiers. Yet the Japanese diet consisted of only about 3% fat.

    There's nothing wrong with eating good meat on a regular basis. Heck, I've even started using lard again. At least I know what's in it.

    17 Replies
    1. re: FEF
      Chowrin RE: FEF Jun 23, 2011 03:00 PM

      a better link to early puberty is tropical fruit. Whatever they eat in South America, they grow early down there.

      If you want to bitch about estrogen, start bitching about hair care products. they POLLUTE! and you drink the water. I don't want to read anything, bar NONE, about soy, unless they're controlling for waterborne estrogen contamination. Birth control pills pollute as well, people!

      1. re: Chowrin
        Fromageball RE: Chowrin Jun 23, 2011 03:12 PM

        Tropical fruit is linked to early puberty? Are you being sarcastic or do you have a source for that?

        1. re: Fromageball
          Chowrin RE: Fromageball Jun 24, 2011 07:00 PM

          google puberty ages in other countries. and pregnancy rates. this is a longlasting phenomenon, unrelated to other nutrition.

      2. re: FEF
        Boston_Otter RE: FEF Jun 23, 2011 04:20 PM

        Evidence that soy consumption results in low sperm count, cancer, and thyroid disease is tenuous at best, largely debunked, and firmly planted in the "better safe than sorry, I guess" realm.

        1. re: Boston_Otter
          FEF RE: Boston_Otter Jun 23, 2011 04:40 PM

          You can call it "tenuous" if you want, but there are studies showing it to be true. Here's one. A simple internet search will turn up more:

          "Chavarro’s team found that men who ate the most soy had 41 million fewer sperm per milliliter of semen compared with men who did not eat soy foods. Normal sperm counts range between 80 million and 120 million per milliliter, according to a press release from the journal, a monthly publication of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology."

          More at the link: http://news.health.com/2008/07/24/soy...

        2. re: FEF
          cowboyardee RE: FEF Jun 24, 2011 02:00 AM

          "For example, the fat in a beef steak is almost 50% monounsaturated fats. For some reason that's bad, but olive oil with 70% monounsaturated fats is good?"
          I know it's tangential to this thread, but what are you arguing here? Beef fat is higher in saturated fats than olive oil. Monounsaturated fat is generally good for you, so it makes perfect sense that having a higher percentage of it would make olive oil healthier for you. And there are many studies directly linking olive oil consumption to decreased risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease (and possibly even stroke, some cancers, and stomach ulcers), whereas I don't know of any such results for beef fat.

          I'm not trying to demonize beef fat, here. Just saying that olive oil has an excellent track record in recent studies, which is why it is commonly considered a very healthy fat.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            FEF RE: cowboyardee Jun 25, 2011 08:18 AM

            I'm arguing that the monounsaturated fats in beef are just as beneficial as the monounsaturated fats in olive oil. Yet oilve oil is held up as a "healthy" food and beef is demonazied.

            Saturated fats, in general, are not a health risk. Dietary saturated fats do NOT affect your cholesterol or cause an increase in cardiovascular disease. Never has. Never will.

            "CONCLUSIONS: A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.."



            I could post dozens of links showing very clearly that you can eat all the saturted fat you want and it will have little or no effect on your cholesterol levels. You've been brainwashed.


            1. re: FEF
              cowboyardee RE: FEF Jun 25, 2011 03:43 PM

              Saturated fats do have an effect on your calories ingested, for starters (which is not necessarily a problem for everyone, of course). For another, you're breaking down complex fats into constituent parts and talking about them while ignoring the far more compelling evidence - that olive oil (not just it's constituent fats) has been linked repeatedly to lower risk of common diseases whereas beef fat has not shown nearly the same correlation in studies. In a sense that's like saying that jogging and sitting on a barstool must be equally healthy because both engage your core muscles.

              1. re: cowboyardee
                mcf RE: cowboyardee Aug 1, 2011 05:02 PM

                We don't know if that's because the beef fat is from polluted feedlot sources, though, with inflammatory profiles, rather than due to saturation. Most of the fat in beef isn't saturated, anyhow.

                1. re: mcf
                  cowboyardee RE: mcf Aug 1, 2011 07:25 PM

                  You're missing my point. I'm not really speaking to the healthfulness of beef fat. There's moderately strong evidence that a diet high in olive oil is GOOD for you - that it is associated with low levels of heart disease and cancer. The same cannot be said about beef fat, or most other fats really. The evidence on other fats (trans fat aside) is generally more mixed.

                  1. re: cowboyardee
                    mcf RE: cowboyardee Aug 2, 2011 07:01 AM

                    I didn't miss your point, I disagree with it. I wasn't merely saying saturated fat is harmless, it also has healthful properties. But if what's tested comes from unwholesome sources it gets wrongly maligned.

                    1. re: mcf
                      cowboyardee RE: mcf Aug 2, 2011 07:22 AM

                      So are you disagreeing with the findings of existing studies on these fats (so far)? Or are you disagreeing with my characterization of said studies?

                      If it's the former, that's fine - but does your objection amount to anything beyond conjecture? If it is the latter, I suggest you look into the studies further.

                      1. re: cowboyardee
                        mcf RE: cowboyardee Aug 2, 2011 09:03 AM

                        I've been reading an awful lot of metabolic/endocrine/cardiology and other science for over a decade. I'm not in disagreement with good science, I'm in disagreement with the unfounded conclusions often extrapolated and promoted from it. And I'm completely opposed to epidemiology used to formulate clinical reccos rather than just as a direction for new clinical research questions.

                        1. re: mcf
                          cowboyardee RE: mcf Aug 2, 2011 10:47 AM

                          Ah. Then our thinking might not be quite so far apart as I thought. When I get time, maybe I'll type a longer post about epidemiology with respect to nutrition. I don't think it's useless. But it has often been applied poorly and used to make recommendations that good science doesn't support - usually by acting as though epidemiological studies are capable of isolating variables when they really don't.

                          1. re: cowboyardee
                            mcf RE: cowboyardee Aug 2, 2011 04:59 PM

                            I didn't say epidemiology was useless, just misused. Big Diff. :-)

                            Save your long post on epidemiology in a Word file; it's going to get deleted on CH by the mods, who want you to post about yummy food, not what it does or doesn't do to your arteries. Seriously. I care about this stuff a lot and I'm an information geek. I get deleted a LOT.

          2. re: FEF
            tatamagouche RE: FEF Aug 1, 2011 09:11 AM

            OT, but "get paid big bucks"?! Rest assured very few writers are getting paid big bucks these days—they're lucky to get paid at all.

            Otherwise I agree with you. Well, I don't about "I don't think you can eat too much fresh meat." You can eat too much anything. But I'm all for good, lean, clean protein.

            1. re: FEF
              The Chowhound Team RE: FEF Aug 3, 2011 09:00 AM

              Folks, we understand that nutrition and eating are inextricably linked, but we've removed a number of posts from this thread that are getting into personal medical details and advice. That's too far afield for our site.


            2. goodhealthgourmet RE: danna Jun 23, 2011 03:39 PM

              I don't understand how this writer thinks eating a portabello mushroom soaked in olive oil and spread with pesto is healthier than a 95% lean burger.
              based on the "savings" numbers provided, it appears she's equating "healthier" with fewer calories and less saturated fat...no surprise there - she's an old school RD who obviously still adheres to the same tired, outdated advice the American Dietetic Association has been pushing for the last 60 years.

              1. e
                ediblover RE: danna Jun 23, 2011 03:47 PM

                Vegetarian replacements are the wrong way to go for healthy food. You just can't replace things like gooey cheese, rendered fat and the like. All they make you want to do is have the real deal. Entrees with limited proteins, such as risotto and noodles, are great because they're not substitutes for anything, but are dishes that honor/feature another ingredient.

                On the article, I didn't think it was so much about taking the protein out, but reducing the calorie count (and done in a dumb way). I say, eat and enjoy a fattening burger, but skip the fries (and get a diet soda) and opt for the side salad. And, go easy with what you have for the rest of the day.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ediblover
                  piccola RE: ediblover Jun 23, 2011 05:47 PM

                  Maybe you don't find veggie proteins satisfying, but I'd much rather have a meal centred on beans (including but not limited to soy) or eggs than a starch-heavy dish as my main. It really annoys me that most restaurants make pasta or risotto their only veg option.

                  1. re: piccola
                    ediblover RE: piccola Jun 24, 2011 08:34 AM

                    I didn't mean it in that they're always inferior, but inferior when used as a substitute for meat dishes. That goes vice-versa; taking a dish that tries to feature a particular vegetable and subbing in meat won't work because the entire dish was planned for a particular component/star.

                    I like simple bean salads and soups, because they feature the bean instead of trying to do something with it that it wasn't meant to do.

                    1. re: ediblover
                      piccola RE: ediblover Jun 24, 2011 06:53 PM

                      Fair enough. I'm not a big fan of meat substitutes, but I do love my tofu and tempeh.

                2. e
                  escondido123 RE: danna Jun 23, 2011 04:20 PM

                  I don't see any problem with suggesting a non-meat alternative that does not include saturated fat. As you said, almost all of us get enough protein and although I could certainly lose a few pounds my cholesterol levels are great because most of my oil is olive. If the whole meal was just fruits, vegetables and olive oil that would be fine with me. To each his own.

                  1. r
                    redfish62 RE: danna Jun 23, 2011 04:27 PM

                    Why do you believe that Americans eat way more meat than they need? I have not seen any evidence of it. Americans do in fact eat way too much but most of what they eat is not meat.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: redfish62
                      pikawicca RE: redfish62 Jun 23, 2011 04:41 PM

                      Actually, there are numerous studies that show Americans consume 2 to 3 times more protein than we need. There is certainly no need to eat meat at every (or most) meals. Beans and whole grains, with the occasional meat, if you like, provide all the protein anyone needs. No need for weird meat analogs.

                      1. re: pikawicca
                        redfish62 RE: pikawicca Jun 23, 2011 04:43 PM

                        You want to show me some of those studies? Because I don't believe that they exist.

                        1. re: redfish62
                          escondido123 RE: redfish62 Jun 23, 2011 05:19 PM

                          First off, I said people get enough protein. Second, I think it is better if people eat less meat from a humane perspective; you don't have to agree with that, it is my opinion. As to studies will one from the CDC do?


                        2. re: pikawicca
                          FEF RE: pikawicca Jun 23, 2011 04:52 PM

                          If you find such studies that are NOT paid for by the Soy industry or animal rights groups (PCRM, PETA, HSUS, etc.) I'd like to see them.

                          But Dr. Van S. Hubbard, director of the NIH Division of Nutrition Research Coordination says "There is insufficient data to say that a person can eat too much protein.” He says there is evidence to suggest that people with certain diseases and conditions should limit their intake. For people with kidney disease, for instance, a reduced-protein diet may help delay the progression towards kidney failure."


                          1. re: FEF
                            piccola RE: FEF Jun 23, 2011 05:49 PM

                            I don't think anyone meant "too much" as in "so much it is harmful." I think they meant as "more than is required."

                        3. re: redfish62
                          danna RE: redfish62 Jun 24, 2011 05:48 AM

                          Well, that's a good question. It's just one of those things I've read a number of times.

                          I, personally, have to work at getting enough protein if I'm eating out because it's hard to get low-fat protein if you don't cook it yourself (and even then you're stuck w/ a lot of egg white and chicken breast). So...I could well be wrong about that.

                        4. t
                          tastesgoodwhatisit RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 01:32 AM

                          I can see something like the portabello burger being intended as a substitute in a barbecue when you want something vegetarian and burger like, but not fake meat substitutes. Given a choice, I"d much rather have the mushroom and pesto as a veggie option than a soy burger for purely aesthetic reasons.

                          But I get your point about dubious substitutions from a health/satisfaction point of view. My husband has really high protein needs, and a veggie/fat/starch meal with little protein is okay once in a while, but over a few days will leave him tired and cranky. After we started living together I actually lost weight as my diet shifted to less starch and more protein.

                          Personally, I figure that depending too much on any one food product for your calorie needs is asking for trouble, and a balance of different ingredients is the best way to hedge your bets on what is safest and most healthy.

                          27 Replies
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                            danna RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Jun 24, 2011 06:10 AM

                            "much rather have the mushroom and pesto as a veggie option than a soy burger for purely aesthetic reasons"

                            Exactly! Lots of times the sweet pea ravioli or something like that is the menu item that looks the best to me, and then I hear from my husband "so...not planning on having any protein tonight?" In addition to having high protein needs (powerlifter/endurance athlete) like your husband, he did a nutrition minor in undergrad, so I get a lot of "that's not a complete protein" or "the bioavailability of that protein is poor" when I try to do a vegetable meal w/ no egg/cheese/dairy.

                            1. re: danna
                              512window RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 10:03 AM

                              I'm with you two - if I'm going to eat vegetarian, then I don't want ersatz meat (soy burger), I'd like real vegetables and other non-meat ingredients.

                              But, back to the OP - there's plenty of protein in the pesto from the cheese and pine nuts.

                              1. re: 512window
                                danna RE: 512window Jun 24, 2011 10:36 AM

                                with all due respect....HUH????? There must be all of 3 grams worth of protein in a serving of pesto! If that! AND, if I'm not mistaken, ... the pine nuts are an incomplete protein, so they would need a legume to make their contribuiton to the 3 grams worth anything.

                                So lets assume I have some baked beans at this bbq thus completing that protein. Still, I need 65-ish grams per day. 3 is not "plenty." Not picking on you 512...but this is exactly the type of thinking that's got me all frustrated. (btw, I adore pesto and would really LIKE IT if I could eat it from a bowl and call it a meal!)

                                1. re: danna
                                  magiesmom RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 11:16 AM

                                  I'm not sure why you sound so, well, pissed off, but anyway...
                                  you can have a pesto meal and then a highish protein dessert, like one based on ricotta or eggy custards, right?
                                  and the protein does not have to be completed in the same meal, as i understand it.

                                  1. re: magiesmom
                                    ellabee RE: magiesmom Jun 24, 2011 11:35 AM

                                    My understanding (with large grains of salt because I've not researched this recently, am going from memory of Food for a Small Planet and Laurel's Kitchen) is that the protein does need to be completed within an hour or two. The implication is that spacing, say, beans and grains out with one at lunch and the other at dinner doesn't provide the same benefits. But they don't have to be consumed right together, so your suggestion of a high-protein or complementary dessert would still be effective even with a longish interval between the dish with incomplete proteins and dessert -- in the way that often happens at an outdoor party or picnic.

                                    1. re: ellabee
                                      pikawicca RE: ellabee Jun 24, 2011 11:40 AM

                                      The food science behind "Food for a Small Planet" is terribly outdated. If you eat "complementary" proteins throughout the course of a day, you're fine.

                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                        ellabee RE: pikawicca Jun 24, 2011 11:55 AM

                                        Thanks for that info, pikawicca; great news for those cutting down on or cutting out meat. Can you point me to any articles or books that convey the updated food science?

                                        1. re: ellabee
                                          escondido123 RE: ellabee Jun 24, 2011 12:18 PM

                                          Here are some online. The first has the most citations.



                                          1. re: escondido123
                                            ellabee RE: escondido123 Jun 24, 2011 05:58 PM

                                            Thanks, escondido123.

                                            I'm still a little puzzled. It seems as if the whole idea of complementarity has been abandoned. Yet It's established that some plant foods contain much lower levels of specific essential amino acids than others, and there have been documented instances of diets that proved deficient because of excessive reliance on one particular grain. The example that leaps to mind, because I'm now reading the first edition of Harold McGee's _On Food and Cooking_, is the increase in pellagra among people whose diet is based on corn and not much else, describing corn as deficient in lysine and tryptophan, as well as having much of its niacin unavailable unless the corn is processed with alkaline substances. This passage reinforces the view that there is something to complementary proteins:
                                            "Natives of the Americas had one other means [aside from alkaline treatment] of coping with corn's nutritional deficiencies: beans, which are well stocked with lysine, tryptophan, and niacin..." (p.244)

                                            The book was published in 1984, and maybe McGee wouldn't write it the same way today (I haven't seen the very much re-written 2nd edition that came out in 2004).

                                            There is another passage in the corn section that reinforces the basic message of the current thinking: "...by 1930 it was estimated there were 200,000 [people with pellagra] in the country, most of them southern cotton sharecroppers. ... But pellagra had declined significantly in the United States between 1930 and 1933, during the depths of the Depression, and before proper treatment had been developed. The Depression had lowered the value of the cotton crop, and many sharecroppers planted more land in vegetables and fruits, thereby balancing their diet. ... But [pellagra] remains a serious problem in parts of South Africa, lower Egypt, and southwestern India, all areas where corn is a late introduction and where poverty is the social constraint."

                                            It's good to know that there should be no real worries about protein inadequacy with an all-plant diet as long as there's variety and enough overall calories.

                                            1. re: ellabee
                                              pikawicca RE: ellabee Jun 24, 2011 06:01 PM

                                              If your diet consists primarily of one food, you are going to be malnourished. If your diet consists of a wide variety of foods, you aren't.

                                          2. re: ellabee
                                            Val RE: ellabee Jun 24, 2011 12:18 PM

                                            ellabee, if I may, here's a link to a nutritionist whom I like a lot--scroll down to his section on BEEF.... and you'll see some newer facts about proteins...they DO come in all ways, some more complete than others but we certainly don't need to eat meat or fish every single day nor at every meal to maintain health and well being:


                                            And many Americans ARE eating too much protein, it's in this article too.

                                          3. re: pikawicca
                                            magiesmom RE: pikawicca Jun 24, 2011 01:06 PM

                                            thanks, that's what I thought

                                        2. re: magiesmom
                                          danna RE: magiesmom Jun 24, 2011 02:42 PM

                                          well , i'm sorry if I sound pissed off, because honestly I"m not. I'm just bemused and frustrated.

                                          As to your point about dessert, I'm uncertain of the time frame to complete a protein. I can't find anything I consider authoritative, and opinions vary a lot. ah...more frustration ;-)

                                          1. re: danna
                                            escondido123 RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 03:02 PM

                                            If you only consider authoritative those sources that agree with you then this could become a pointless discussion. Vegetarians have done a lot of research on this subject so I might want to consider their findings rather than those of groups that want to sell meat based protein. Just a thought.

                                            1. re: danna
                                              goodhealthgourmet RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 04:21 PM

                                              I'm uncertain of the time frame to complete a protein.
                                              within 12-24 hours. it varies widely depending on individual metabolic rates and digestive efficiency, but the window is much larger than originally thought. obviously it's ideal to consume them together, but not necessary. it was once believed that they had to be present in the gut at the same time to form a complete protein, but as it turns out, our bodies *do* store amino acids in our blood and tissues for a period of time, and can draw on those reserves and pair them with complementary AAs from other meals once ingested.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                ellabee RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 24, 2011 06:05 PM

                                                ghg, so the concept of 'complementarity' is intact? That makes a lot more sense to me than the idea that "every plant source of protein is complete protein".

                                                Do you have any suggestions for further reading on the amino acids storage and timing of ingestion?

                                                1. re: ellabee
                                                  goodhealthgourmet RE: ellabee Jun 24, 2011 07:07 PM

                                                  incomplete proteins are still incomplete - they didn't all miraculously develop missing amino acids :) but we now know that it's not necessary to eat them *together* to achieve complementarity...within the same day is just fine.

                                                  my best advice for further reading is Lexis/Nexis or PubMed for a scholarly article search & review...but it helps if you have access through a university system, otherwise you're probably limited to reading abstracts instead of full text, and that's not very helpful :) unfortunately i no longer have access or i'd pull up some papers and send them to you. you could always hit the library of a local college if you have one nearby...

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                    ellabee RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 24, 2011 07:40 PM

                                                    Thanks, ghg. I re-read more carefully some of the links provided by another poster above, and realize that I was misreading Lappe's "recantation" a bit.

                                                    I'm in a college town, with access to the libraries and friends in both biology departments, so will pursue. Glad I participated in this thread!

                                                    1. re: ellabee
                                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: ellabee Jun 24, 2011 08:18 PM

                                                      ooh, lucky you to have those contacts :) happy reading!

                                          2. re: danna
                                            512window RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 12:25 PM

                                            3 > 0
                                            Read the title of your thread.
                                            You said "no" not "plenty."

                                            1. re: 512window
                                              danna RE: 512window Jun 24, 2011 02:09 PM

                                              correct. it was you who said "plenty."

                                              That's what I'm getting at. You seemed to imply that a miniscule amount of protein was all that was needed. I'm no expert, but I don't think that's right. I think not only do you have to get x amount of protein per day based on your weight and activity level, but you have to get it reasonably spaced out during the day....as in your body can't assimilate more than a certain amount of protein at once. Do you see what I'm getting at? I'm not trying to be difficult...it's just something I've really noticed a lot lately.

                                              1. re: danna
                                                FEF RE: danna Jun 25, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                I totally understand your frustration at some of the comments. I see it here along with other discussion boards: the "oh, you can't be protein deficient in a country where we have so much food." Well, if you read enough discussion boards, you find a LOT of veg*ns are NOT getting enough protein. Most of them are not actually deficient yet, but they're sick. There's a huge turnover in the veg*n population here in the US. TIME magazine has said 3 out of 4 vegetarians go back to eating meat. I'd bet a lack of protein is one of the main causes. A lack of B12 and iron are two other biggies. B12 is not available from any plant and the non heme iron in veggies is much harder to absorb than the heme iron in animal products. Then there are the omega3s. Flax seed is not a reliable source EPA and DHA. Humans do best on a balanced diet: some meat, some veggies, some fruit, restrict processed carbs and sugar.

                                                1. re: FEF
                                                  Val RE: FEF Jun 25, 2011 07:25 AM

                                                  @FEF: wait...I think I've read that B12 is in kelp, seaweeds and nutritional yeast...well, here's an article anyway for what it's worth...I'm not vegan by the way...thanks.


                                                  1. re: Val
                                                    FEF RE: Val Jun 25, 2011 08:05 AM

                                                    You probably have read it, but it's not true. Veg*ns live in a pretend world.

                                                    You can find all kinds of veg websites saying "eat some dirt. it has B12" or "B12 used to be in the soil, but modern farming killed it" and other really stupid things. B12 is cobalt. Cobalt is in the soil. Plants pick up the cobalt. Animals eat the plants, the bacteria in their gut turns the cobalt to B12, they store it in their bodies and I get it when I eat them. We make B12 in our own gut, low down in our system and it passes right on through without being absorbed. Some animals have interesting ways to get B12:


                                                    There are two VEGAN registered dietitians online. Both of them are definite about needing to supplement the vegan diet, and possibly the vegetarian diet, for B12.

                                                    Jack Norris of VeganHealth.org says "...Contrary to rumors, there are no reliable, unfortified plant sources of vitamin B12, including tempeh, seaweeds, and organic produce. The overwhelming consensus in the mainstream nutrition community, as well as among vegan health professionals, is that plant foods do not provide vitamin B12, and fortified foods or supplements are necessary for the optimal health of vegans, and even vegetarians in many cases...."

                                                    Ginny Messina, theveganRD.com says: "Vitamin B12. You can’t get enough by eating unwashed organic produce or mushrooms grown in B12-rich soil. The recommended dose is 25 to 100 micrograms per day or 1,000 micrograms 2-3 times per week. If you have not been taking B12 for a while, start out with 2,000 micrograms daily for several weeks. Or get a blood test to see where you are and whether you might need a more therapeutic dose."

                                                    The Vegan Society says supplement for B12. The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) says to supplement for B12.

                                                    The only natural source of B12 is animal products, or you can take shots, pills, eat processed foods that have had manufactured B12 added.

                                                    1. re: FEF
                                                      escondido123 RE: FEF Jun 25, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                      No one here has said veganism is an optimal diet and that's what everyone should go for. We have said that meatless meals can be fine and no matter your point of view that really can't be a point of argument.

                                                  2. re: FEF
                                                    granolagrl RE: FEF Aug 1, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                    Hello! I'm sorry for jumping into your little convo here, but I found it very interesting. I've been a vegetarian since I was 13 (I'm 39 now). I'm not a nutritionist, but have done quite a bit of reading over the course of all those years to try to educate myself about protein needs. Danna is correct that everyone needs a certain amount of protein per day based on weight and activity level. Where that protein comes from just seems to be an individual opinion. We can all cite studies that say plant protein is incomplete, and we can all find studies that say the opposite.

                                                    As for me, I have a complete physical every year that includes blood work to tell me how I'm doing on all vital nutrients, and I've never been found to be deficient in any of them. I have no health issues at all. Spring, summer, and fall I hike, canoe, and backpack. So I'm not exactly sedentary. I do eat limited amounts of dairy, as in cheese on the occasional pizza or an ice cream cone here and there, but I do not drink milk or eat eggs or animals of any kind including fish.

                                                    So I'm sorry I can't answer your question but I do know that for me, the proof is in whether or not I am able to get up and do the things I love every day, which do require strong bones and muscles. So far, so good! Now my parents lived on diets rich in animal fat and protein and they both died in their 60's. :-(

                                            2. re: 512window
                                              mcf RE: 512window Aug 1, 2011 05:04 PM

                                              There's scant protein in either of those unless you eat a LOT, but they sure taste good. :-)

                                        3. ipsedixit RE: danna Jun 24, 2011 12:45 PM

                                          There's a difference between a MEAL with no protein, and a DIET with no protein.

                                          The former is completely fine and can in fact be very healthy. The latter is a recipe for malnutrition.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            Isolda RE: ipsedixit Aug 1, 2011 05:07 PM

                                            Exactly. I find it odd that people don't understand that you don't have to have every single nutrient in every single meal. As long as they are in your diet, you are fine.

                                            1. re: Isolda
                                              mcf RE: Isolda Aug 1, 2011 05:28 PM

                                              Protein isn't just a nutrient, it's one of only two essential macro nutrients in human nutrition. The other is fat.

                                          2. pikawicca RE: danna Aug 1, 2011 04:54 PM

                                            Dinner last night was a black bean/quinoa salad with lots of raw chopped up veggies from the farmers market, dressed with a chipotle/lime vinaigrette -- delicious, healthy, and no meat in sight.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: pikawicca
                                              tatamagouche RE: pikawicca Aug 1, 2011 04:57 PM

                                              But black beans and quinoa do constitute a "complementary vegetable protein," no?

                                              PS Not that the occasional meal without any form of protein's gonna hurt anyone. I'd assume that a consistent pattern of not getting enough protein could surely be a problem, but that a meal without it—even a meal a day without it—would be less of a problem than a meal a day with way too much protein.

                                              1. re: pikawicca
                                                MandalayVA RE: pikawicca Aug 2, 2011 07:51 AM

                                                Healthy for you, maybe. If I ate quinoa I'd be in the bathroom for the next twelve hours wishing for a quick and merciful death.

                                                1. re: MandalayVA
                                                  mcf RE: MandalayVA Aug 2, 2011 09:08 AM

                                                  I'd have to take drugs to control the blood sugar spike. I also don't understand why people say it's a good source of protein.

                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                    ellabee RE: mcf Aug 2, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                    This post, devoted to debunking hyped nutrition claims for quinoa, explains why:

                                                    Short answer for people who don't follow links: Quinoa contains all nine of the amino acids that have to come from our diet to build proteins (so is a more "complete protein" than other grains or legumes).

                                                    It's fundamentally a carb food, like all grains, so for a given amount of protein it's not as good a choice as eggs or other animal protein for diabetics or people who need to restrict calories.

                                              2. s
                                                sueatmo RE: danna Aug 2, 2011 09:21 AM

                                                I read the linked article. Perhaps the grilled mushroom sub for a burger was for non-vegetarian consumption. Perhaps the key phrase is "burger habit." I might have written, " decrease the frequency of your burger consumption." I mean why have that as a habit if you over 25 years old?

                                                Basically I agree with you. And an oil soaked Portobella mushroom just doesn't sound appetizing to me.

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