Low Protein Levels in the Vegan Diet Follow Up: Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Thursday Jun 16 | BY |
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help yourself key west florida
Mmmm… can’t wait to get back to Key West to go here… (Charlie weighs in on the protein issue!)

Tuesday’s post created quite a bit of a stir…

Of course for good reason – it’s quite a hot topic.

Any time you show contrary evidence to an “accepted” truth like vegans don’t ever get protein deficiencies (or anyone else), you generally get quite a bit of attention.

Today, I wanted to address some discussion points quickly about this issue, since it’s still hot on my mind (and yours) as well as give you a response directly from my friend – who’s decided to write a full 4-5 paragraph response / article so you can actually put a face to the person I was talking about.

So let’s get started…

1. There’s a level of irresponsibility of vegan experts on this specific protein matter.

I don’t know how clear I was about this, but I wanted this to be at the forefront of my message the other day.

It is very, very irresponsible to tell people up on stage or at a lecture that they don’t need to worry about their protein.

Telling people this, does and can, cause them to continue to be confused about their health particularly when they start to show ill symptoms of health related to their diet.

It’s likely that a person on a vegan diet who is told they don’t have to worry about protein and who is showing symptoms of low amino acid synthesis and absorption, will not address or even explore testing their amino acid levels because they were told they would never have to worry about them.

This type of propaganda pushing is irresponsible.

The experts are not all wrong (since you can get protein from plants), but they’ve missed half the story.

My message the other day, was a strong call for these experts to please change their tune and address the issue of absorption so people who want to continue a vegan diet can do so in an informed and healthy manner.

If you’d like to help me correct this little bit of information (maybe big bit), please pass along this and Tuesday’s article to an expert you’ve heard lecture and say something like:

“Vegans don’t need to worry about protein,” or “You can never get a protein deficiency.”

Ask them nicely to just adapt their message to say, “you can get your protein from vegetables and fruits, but you do need to make sure you’re absorbing it as well.”

It’s not as sexy as the previous message, but the truth sometimes isn’t as interesting as dogmatic beliefs.

2. I’ve said these same statements before.

Before Annmarie and I traveled around the country in our RV, I used to say the exact statements as above.

I was one of these people I’m speaking out against. Basically, what I’m telling you here is that while it’s irresponsible, it’s also an honest (likely) mistake.

When we started to actually see what was happening with some of our raw vegan friends we became concerned that everything wasn’t as rosy as it all seemed.

Since then, as you can tell by my posts and writing, I’ve become a little more cautious about my recommendations. Our travels have shown me the magnitude a message can be spread, so I want to make sure what comes from us is the most responsible possible.

3. I don’t mean all vegans need to eat meat, nor do I think all vegan experts are irresponsible.

I don’t think I need to over explain this, but I want to be clear.

All vegans don’t need to eat meat.

They just need to be aware of their protein levels, make sure they’re breaking down and absorbing their amino acids and if they’re not, they need to try something new.

This does not mean they need to eat hamburgers. They can if they like, but they certainly don’t have to.

It means they have to figure out a way (vegan, if they like) to fix their absorption and get more protein. You can use plants or whatever else you like – the most important thing is that the issue gets fixed.

I also don’t mean that all vegan experts are irresponsible.

They aren’t.

Many are my friends and are knowledgeable and caring individuals.

They also have helped hundreds of thousands people get healthy. I’m not discounting this at all.

The only thing I’m saying is that on this issue, there needs to be an adjustment of shared knowledge.

4. Also, yes, meat eaters can be deficient in amino acids as well.

Of course, this is true.

I never said that it wasn’t.

For those who were so critical of this, why then do vegan “experts” suddenly assume that vegans can’t be protein deficient?

Seems to me that there’s a misunderstanding of basic biology.

I’m just asking us (and them)… everyone… to be more reasonable and responsible with their information.

5. Charlie’s response…

Instead of me talking anymore, I want to share Charlie’s (my friend from the article) response after reading my post. She was excited to have the opportunity to build on what I shared.

Here goes…

“I am the person Kevin was referring to in this post. I have a restaurant called Help Yourself in Key West FL and I met Kevin and Annmarie last year when they visited the Keys. After reading about Kevin’s blood tests I was inspired to have mine done. I was definitely feeling run down, more tired than normal and my memory was getting noticeably bad. Plus, because I am also promoting health through diet I felt the need to know exactly what was going on in my body so I could feel comfortable about what I was teaching.

“I have been mostly vegan for the past 6 years. I say mostly because there have been occasions or periods of time where I have eaten some dairy, some eggs and occasionally some fish. I do eat a high amount of raw food, drink fresh juices and am extremely conscious of what I eat. I really don’t like to put a label on my eating habits and lump myself into a category, but if I had to I would simply say I eat “Real Food”. Personally I think there is too much emphasis on the type of diet we are following. Once we turn our backs against processed, packaged and refined foods and become so-called ‘healthy eaters’ we feel we have to put ourselves into a category and follow rules. The only rules I like to follow are 1. Does it come from nature? 2. Was it grown organically? and 3. Is it a whole food?. Once I have established that I then decide if my body wants to eat it or not. This is at least the conclusion I have come to in more recent years after following the ‘rules’ of a strict vegan diet and then a strict raw food diet myself. Now I eat ‘real food’ and try to go with what my body craves without putting myself in a box.

“I am not an expert on reading the blood results but the crux of it appears to be that I am low in some of the B vitamins, low in Vitamin D, low in protein, high in cholesterol. I am wondering if the high cholesterol is the result of all the coconut I eat (I live in Key West where there is an abundance of fresh local coconuts!), maybe someone else can give me an insight on that? When it comes to the protein deficiency I believe malabsorption is my problem. I truly believe that I would be getting enough protein if I was absorbing it efficiently and some of the other results lead to this being the factor. I have intuitively felt that I wasn’t absorbing all the nutrients from my food as efficiently as I should be for a while, and perhaps that’s from eating unhealthily in my youth followed by years of yo-yoing between different diets always trying to find the ‘optimum’ diet. Perhaps its because I opened a business in the past three years and if anyone else reading this has a business they will know that it can at times be highly stressful and a restaurant especially takes a lot of energy. I ran myself down and exhausted my reserve supply of nutrients. I didn’t listen to my own message and ‘Help Myself’.

“I think the message Kevin is trying to get across is that we need to listen to our body. Sometimes we get so stuck in the box that we have chosen to put ourselves in, that we ignore what our body is saying simply because we can’t bring ourselves to break the rules of the ‘raw food’ or the ‘vegan’ diet category that we have labeled ourselves with. It does appear that quite a number of vegetarians and vegans are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and that taking supplements is advisable. Equally so many people on the SAD diet will also be deficient in nutrients, though perhaps different ones. I was not regularly taking any supplements purely because I let myself get out of the habit for too long. I should have been, especially during a time of stress for me. I do believe supplements play a part of our regime no matter what we eat, this is unfortunately so because the soil our food is coming from is most likely depleted in nutrients, its certainly not the deep nutrient rich organic soil it once was.

“I also believe strongly that diet is only one aspect of our journey to health. Exercise plays a huge part, as does how we live our lives and the thoughts we think. Once we have that mind body spirit balance then our diet follows suit. For some a raw vegan diet works miracles, others prefer to follow a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet and feel great, and many people are extremely happy and healthy living on a carnivorous diet. The answer is there is no one diet for everyone we must all do what is right for us and listen to our body as there may be other factors involved that need addressing.

“The one thing that I am sure everyone reading this blog will agree on though is that processed, packaged, refined and chemically altered foods have no place in our diets. Once we eliminate those, obtain balance in our lives and get in tune with our body we can then determine which foods feel right for us. Keeping an open mind is absolute key on our journey to health.”

Charlie Wilson

(BTW: If you’re ever in Key West, please check out her place. She’s awesome and so is the restaurant!)

6. Comments were plain old fantastic. Thanks!

Finally, there are some times when I read the comments on posts and I’m so thankful of your contributions. The last week has been one of those times. For all of you who commented this week, as well in the past – thank you so much for adding to the discussion.

I want to know your thoughts: Any new revelations on the protein issue from these comments here?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

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