One of the most common concerns when embracing a high-raw or vegan diet, whether on a detox or as a lifestyle choice, is “where will I get my protein?”. Mainstream health and nutrition education would have us believe that you can only get proper protein from meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
If you’ve educated yourself further on the protein question, you will know that vegan sources of protein also include soya protein and tofu.
The Downsides of Common Protein Sources
The main problems with common protein sources is that, largely, they are not good for our health. The vast majority of meat and dairy animals are given antibiotics and hormones in their daily feed, to prevent illness and promote artificially fast growth. These chemicals remain in the meat, even after cooking, and are absorbed by the human body. It is thought that this is a contributing factor to the growing resistance to antibiotics in humans, as well as the hormone related illnesses that many of us now experience.
Meat and dairy are both incredibly acidic for the body and their consumption have also been convincingly linked to certain types of cancer. (To find out more about the link between cancer and meat, read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell)
In our modern world the seas are, unfortunately, polluted. This means that even fish have become a less healthy source of protein. Higher and higher amounts of heavy metals such are mercury are being found in fish and seafood. The larger the fish, the higher the amount of heavy metals that are found in them, particularly in tuna, king mackerel, sea bass, swordfish and yellowtail. Heavy metals are incredibly detrimental to human health and are particularly known for having a negative affect on the brain development of babies in utero.
Farmed salmon flesh is mostly unhealthy fat, due to the artificial diets they are fed and the small growing pens they live in – made small on purpose to restrict movement and speed up their growth. Salmon feed also contains chemicals that are not removed through cooking.
Soya was hailed as the new ‘healthy’ source of protein, but has now been linked to excess oestrogen-related illnesses, including uterine fibroids and some cancers.
The protein question, as you can see is a minefield! So, what to do?
Sun-Filled, Life-Giving Sources of Protein
There are, in fact, many other healthy sources of plant-based protein that are far superior for your long term health. Most people are unaware that most vegetables and grains actually contain protein at all. They do!
Sources of plant-based protein include:
- dark green veg, such as kale, spinach, broccoli and chard
- nuts and seeds
- algae such as chlorella and spirulina
- wild rice
Combining brown rice with pulses, such as lentils or chick peas/garbanzo beans, also creates a source of whole protein.
Animal proteins can be very addictive and many people feel that they can’t give up meat, fish and cheese. Even if you feel you aren’t ready to cut it out altogether, make an effort to reduce these toxic foods down to a minimum. Try having meat and fish 2 or 3 times a week instead of every day and get inspired with exciting vegetarian and vegan meals to replace them. If you do eat meat and dairy make sure it’s organic, and if you want to eat fish, eat smaller fish as they contain less mercury (e.g. North Atlantic mackerel, anchovies, sardines, whiting, herring, pollock).
If you are already vegan or vegetarian, see what it’s like to cut down on vegan meat substitutes and soya-based products, experimenting with whole, plant-based proteins instead. Your health and energy levels will thank you for it!
Today’s recipe is a wonderful introduction to high protein, plant-based meals and is a great alternative to traditional protein based meals. Give it a go and let us know what you think in the comments below 🙂
This Week’s Detox Recipe: Quinoa Pepper Boats with Creamy Tomato Sauce
I love quinoa! This recipe is utterly delicious – I use cooked rainbow quinoa (a mix of the black, white and red variety) but you can also use a single colour of quinoa if that’s all you can get hold of. Quinoa Pepper Boats can be made in advance, but the tomato sauce is best made fresh just before serving.
If you want a totally raw version, use home-made sprouted quinoa instead of cooking it, and don’t toast the pumpkin seeds.
Makes 3 boats.
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 large handful pumpkin seeds
1 handful raisins
1 medium carrot, grated
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 ½ red peppers, halved and deseeded
Whole chive leaves, for decoration
1 fresh tomato
2 tsp raisins
½ cm ginger root, skin removed
½ small clove garlic
1 splash extra-virgin olive oil
¼ lime, juice of
¼ tsp mineral salt
Cook the quinoa: add the quinoa to a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring the quinoa to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes to absorb and remaining water.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a saucepan, keeping a close eye on it so as not to burn the seeds. Stir or toss the seeds in the pan every 30 seconds to roast them evenly.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the toasted pumpkin seeds, raisins, grated carrot and chopped chives.
Divide the mixture in 3 and fill each of your pepper halves with your quinoa filling. Top each half with a few whole chive leaves.
Blend all the tomato sauce ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately with your Quinoa Pepper Boats.