Protein Deficiency = Calorie Deficiency

Protein Deficiency = Calorie Deficiency

A common question for those of us who eat a whole-food, plant-based diet is "Where do you get your protein from?" This question is based on the fear that animal-free diets won't meet our daily protein recommendations. This fear is based on misconceptions and myths rather than facts.

Most people are perplexed when they find out that plants contain more than enough protein to meet our daily needs. Dr. John McDougall's article, "When Friends Ask: Where do You Get Your Protein?" points out that "protein deficiency is really a food deficiency." He reinforces his position by saying: "How many cases of the so-called 'protein deficiency state,' kwashiorkor, have you seen? I have never seen a case, even though I have known thousands of people on a plant-food based diet. Sixty percent of people alive today and most of the people who have lived in the past have obtained their protein from plant foods. They have lived successfully; avoiding all the diseases common in our society. Even today plant sources provide 65% of the world supply of the protein we eat. The picture one often sees of 'protein deficient' children in famine areas of Asia or Africa is actually one of starvation and is more accurately described as 'calorie deficiency.' When these children come under medical supervision, they are nourished back to health with their local diets of corn, wheat, rice, and/or beans."

Several valid points that Dr. McDougall presents are:

  • "All twenty amino acids, including the 10 essential ones, needed for good health are abundant in plants.  In real life there is no such thing as protein deficiency, yet the meat and dairy industries generate tons of profit with these universally accepted lies."
  • Protein stores are generally protected during starvation. Starving people die from loss of fat, not protein loss.
  • Instilling fear of becoming protein deficient has not only led to an epidemic of chronic disease, it has crippled our nation's economy.  In developed countries, it is nearly impossible to be protein deficient as long as sufficient calories are being consumed. "More than a half-century of creative marketing by the meat, dairy, egg, and fish industries has produced fears surrounding nonexistent deficiencies."

We realize your family and friends are concerned with your diet being "protein deficient." We hope this information will be helpful in guiding your response.

For additional information regarding protein, see:

(1) Protein Overload

(2) Current Protein Recommendations Flawed

(3) But I Must Have Animal Protein!

(4) Which has More Protein? Steak or Kale?

(5) Unscrambling the Truth About Eggs

(6) Dr. Carney's Pinterest board on Protein

John McDougall MD Links

John McDougall MD  |  LinkedIn  |  Wikipedia  |  VegSource  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Books  |  Videos

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