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The Guardian recently published an interesting longform article on protein. Food and nutrition is hugely important to me personally, and as a yoga teacher, and the article raised three important facts which are well worth considering (if you have time, the whole piece is a great read).

protein shake

Protein supplements do not offer the same complex health benefits as whole foods

“A scoop of ultra-processed whey is not, in fact, the same as a grilled salmon fillet, either in nutrition or in the experience of eating it. Salmon – even the farmed kind – will be high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, whereas whey protein is low in vitamins and minerals (except for calcium) and fat-free,” writes author Bee Wilson.

You can meet all your protein needs on a plant-based diet

“Vegetable proteins such as lentils and peas tend to be regarded as ‘low-quality’ compared with meat, eggs and dairy. But Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, has argued that this “quality” argument is misleading. His great discovery was that all plant sources of protein – from peanuts to edamame beans – contain all essential amino acids. Admittedly they contain smaller concentrations of the amino acids than meat or eggs, but in the context of a plentiful and varied diet, this doesn’t matter.”

Animal proteins harm the environment

“Britain’s obsession with protein is that we don’t actually produce very much of it. In fact, only 3% of arable land in Europe is given over to protein crops such as pulses, and Europe imports more than two-thirds of its animal feed. Much of the protein consumed in Europe is meat raised on materials that actually originate in South America or the US as soybean oil or other oilseeds and have to be shipped across the world. So long as we largely consume protein from animal sources, our obsession with protein is also likely to be bad for the planet.”

While protein is an important building block for healthy tissue, you are almost certainly eating more than enough if you eat a balanced diet. “Quick fixes” like supplements or shakes are okay from time to time, but they shouldn’t replace a varied whole-food diet.

If you’re stuck for some protein rich whole food ideas, here are three recipes to try:

Socca – chickpea flour flatbread

Vegan poke bowl

Vegan chilli

Share your favourite protein-rich whole food meals/recipes in the comments!

photo credit: bethography – melting mama DSC_0433 via photopin (license)