Is Protein Really Necessary?
One reader's daughter claims that you don't need protein to be healthy. What says the Nutrition Diva?
Nutrition Diva fan Amanda writes:
"One of my adult daughters is on a raw, vegan diet. She says people don't need protein and that protein isn't healthy. Is there any basis for this thinking? She seems healthy, but I worry."
I'm a little worried about your daughter too, Amanda. Not necessarily because of her diet but because she seems to be getting her nutrition information from some questionable sources! Not only is protein healthy, it is absolutely essential. Without adequate dietary protein, we would grow sick and could even die. Tragically, children in third world countries do just that on a regular basis. (Read more about kwashiorkor, a devastating condition caused by protein-malnutrition.)
Fortunately for your daughter, it is possible to get enough protein on a raw, vegan diet. Nuts, seeds. algae, sprouted grains, and legumes are all good sources of protein. Even fruits and vegetables contain small amounts of protein! (Click on on any of the blue words to go to other articles I've written on those topics.)
That said, getting balanced, adequate nutrition on a raw, vegan diet--or any extremely restrictive regimen--poses some extra challenges. Let's hope that whoever told your daughter that people don't need protein isn't the one advising her on her daily food choices! The Vegetarian Resource Group is an excellent source of reliable and supportive nutrition guidance for vegans and vegetarians.
Here are some other articles from the Nutrition Diva archives that you (or she) might find interesting:
- Protein and carbohydrate content of foods
- What are the benefits of a raw foods diet?
- Should you be a vegetarian?
- How to find reliable sources of nutrition information
- How to give nutrition advice