Protein foods are supposed to mean meat, eggs and dairy food. But even if you ate only fruit, fresh vegetables, wheat, oatmeal or pumpkin you would be well within your daily protein requirement. If you ate cabbage, you would have double of what you needed. In fact even if you ate nothing but potatoes you would still be getting enough protein.
We are told that animal protein is superior to vegetable protein. This theory was propagated in the 1940s in America, based on a series of experiments done on rats—which proved to be unrepeatable on human beings—and therefore could not have been a serious working hypothesis for a human diet.
You can get enough protein if you are getting enough calories. The whole issue of getting enough protein is just an advertising gimmick with no hard or even partial truth behind it except for the propaganda of the three vested interest industries—meat, egg and milk. These also happen to be the three most expensive foodstuffs.
Clinical studies on the intake of essential amino acids for meat and egg eaters, milk drinkers or dairy product eaters have shown that these three groups were exceeding twice their requirement for every essential amino acid and some were getting five times the amount they needed.
In a normal pure vegetarian diet, it is difficult to get less than 9 per cent protein! The only way you can achieve a protein deficiency is by eating only a combination of white bread, pastries, deep fried food and candy. Or by eating only fruit. Or by eating only cassava root. But that would lead not just to a deficiency of protein but of everything else as well—carbohydrates, vitamins, fibre and minerals.
We are told that if we want muscles, if we work hard and play hard, we need more protein. A myth. We need protein to replace enzymes, to grow hair, to provide antibodies. For muscles, to play hard and for combustion fuel we need carbohydrate, which is why many of the world’s top athletes are vegetarian.
What are the consequences of ingesting too much protein? Let’s start from what we do to India and then look at what we do to ourselves.
a) In India, the milk and meat industries are responsible for huge amounts of deforestation. Each goat eats four hectares of vegetation before it is killed. Satellite figures show an estimated 160 million hectares of barren land—most of it in the goat grazing areas. The Government of India’s Wasteland Board gives out Rs.6,000 to re-green one acre—and most of the time, even that does not help as the topsoil has flown away. So each goat eats Rs.60,000 rupees of national property in the form of ground-covering grass and young tree shoots. We have just taken a loan of Rs.400 crores to re-green the Aravallis—which have been totally denuded only by goats that are forcibly bred to provide us meat. You and I will have to repay that loan through increased taxes, fares, electricity, water and school fees.
All our national sanctuaries and the wild cats in them are under threat because the farmers graze their milk cattle there. As a result the tiger, leopard and lion are seen as enemies and are increasingly being killed by the shepherds using poison and dynamite-in-bait so that the sanctuaries can be left clear for their cows. Does your meat and milk intake justify all this? Destroying whole animal species? Increasing India’s debt burden? Denuding vast areas of land—which is the only asset this primarily agricultural, overpopulated country has?
b) We feed a huge amount of grain, soyabeans and lentils to animals which we could have fed to our poor people. It is unnatural (even unpatriotic) to consume a kilo of meat that has taken 11 kilos of grain to be made. Vitamins, steroids, hormones—the money for these drugs could have gone into the public medicare service for the poor.
c) We cause an enormous amount of suffering to lakhs of animals daily. Chickens are crammed into tiny cages, with their beaks cut off, injected with hormones to have their periods daily (after all what are eggs but accumulated menstrual blood) and forced to live in the permanent glare of artificial light while their eggs are collected in conveyer belts. The non-laying chickens are sent in cramped baskets or held upside down on cycles and ferried to roadside stalls, to be yanked out by their wings and have their throats cut with rusty razors. Each takes half an hour to die.
Have you seen goats, sheep and bullocks/buffaloes being killed at the slaughterhouse? Brought from hundreds of miles away, crowded in trucks, with their legs broken, they are hauled out by their tails and thrown on top of each other and kept thus for days outside the overcrowded slaughterhouse. They lie starving and thirsty in the rivulets of blood that seep out of the butchery. When it is their turn, they are dragged inside, they have tobacco and acid put in their eyes to make them stand and then they are killed with rusty blades that saw away at the throat.
And all this cruelty for the production of an item that is completely inessential—and very harmful—for the human body.
What is the harm that these unnecessary animal proteins are doing to your body? Anything in excess, destroys—whether it is aspirin, alcohol, food or sunshine. What does excess protein- intake do?
Twenty-five per cent of all women in affluent societies suffer from a disease called osteoporosis. All over the world, more deaths are caused by osteoporosis than cancer of the breast and cervix combined. The bones stop absorbing calcium and by the time the woman is 50 she has lost 50 per cent of the original bone material from her skeleton. This is a slow disease—it is not apparent till teeth start dropping, gums recede, and the bones start breaking easily. Until then the body will continue to show normal amounts of calcium which is needed for vital operations such as clotting of blood, transmission of nerve impulses, controlling of muscular contractions specially those of the heart. However, the calcium is not coming from your food intake but is being drawn out of the bones.
All scientific research has established the direct correlation between excess protein intake and negative calcium absorption. Simply speaking, every time you drink more milk or eat more meat, your body loses more calcium regardless of how much calcium you take in. The result is an inexorable decrease in bone density causing the onset of this fatal disease. And when you take your aching body to a doctor and he recommends more milk—he is simply hastening the disease. Vegetarians have a less than half loss of bone density than meat eaters. And vegans, who do not eat milk, eggs or meat have almost none. Why? The body has to be maintained at an essentially neutral pH. If the blood becomes acidic, we die. Meat, eggs, fish and milk are the most acid-forming foods. So the body, in its wisdom, withdraws the alkaline calcium from the bones to maintain the pH balance.
The other important point is that calcium cannot be absorbed unless phosphorus is present. The lowest phosphorus containers are chicken, beef, fish, pork, liver and milk. In all vegetables, the calcium-phosphorous ratio is much higher. Lettuce, for instance, is 70 times higher than any meat.
And that is not the only problem. Kidney deterioration due to milk and meat is another established fact. Extra protein doesn’t just trickle out of the body. The kidneys have to work in excess to get rid of it—leading to kidney stones, hypertrophy and inflammation. Why is it that people who have only one kidney are not allowed by doctors to eat animal protein?
And, if that were not enough, the senior science advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research has issued a statement saying there is ‘a strong correlation between dietary protein intake and cancer of the breast, pancreas and colon.’ A similar statement has been released by the Institute for Human Nutrition.
I rest my case—both, for India’s survival, for the animals that suffer needlessly and for your own life—stop the milk, eggs and meat.