Doctor's Note

The only nutrient Americans may be more deficient in than fiber is potassium. See 98% of American Diets Potassium Deficient. For more on how S.A.D. the Standard American Diet is, see Nation’s Diet in Crisis.

Americans eating meat-free diets average higher intakes of nearly every nutrient. See my video Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management.

Isn’t animal protein higher quality protein though? See my videos:

For more on protein, see: Plant Protein Preferable and Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio.

And for a few on fiber:

 If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Bonnie Bartlett

    In this study, does the category of “strict vegetarians” refer to vegans? That’s a little confusing. Why didn’t they just label the category as “vegans?”

    • Darryl

      “Vegan” also has ethical connotations, wherein practitioners also avoid everything from leather clothing to patronizing circuses. “Strict vegetarian”, an older phrase, avoids the non-dietary associations, as many chose plant based diets for heath concerns, and it has been the term favored in author Gary Fraser’s Adventist studies since 1981.

      • Bonnie Bartlett

        Thank you!

      • guest

        That clears up a lot of issues I have read about over the last couple of years. I wish I had looked up these various definitions earlier! :)

      • Dave

        Actually, Darryl, “plant based” could include a small daily animal portion. I have heard even Dr Campbell (The China Study) declare in a debate that he ate a small amount of fish, so he was emphatically NOT a vegan. Plant-based seems to infer the diet is mostly plants. A clear animal content cutoff is not clear in this terminology. This vagueness is precisely why I do not prefer or use the term.

        • Mike Weinberg

          I’ve heard Dr. Campbell lecture on several occasions, as recently as March 2014, and I’ve never heard him say he ate fish. (Perhaps he was talking about Bill Clinton.)
          Reference this NY Times article Q&A:
          Q. Do you advocate a 100 percent plant-based diet?
          A.We eat that way, meaning my family, our five grown children and five grandchildren. We all eat this way now.

          • Dave

            Mike, Nope he was talking about his own diet. It occurred during a debate with a Paleo advocate named Westman at UAB in 2013. Check out the video of this at -


            Check out the time 1:12:27 or thereabouts, where he discusses eating fish in his family.

            I remember being shocked when I heard this, given the arguments he puts forth, the poisons found in all fish, and the imminent collapse of the ocean systems. But, maybe this is what happens when the only discussion is about health. Once you allow animal protein into your diet, the question immediately becomes how much. To quote Walter Willet, MD, the head of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, “There are no nutrients in animal foods that cannot be gotten better from plants.” So, why should an animal suffer or die for your eating pleasure? Thus we find that the way to answer the how much question is with ethics. That is, anything more than none is too much.

          • bob

            Quote from 1:12:27ish: “I tend not to eat fish. Maybe occassionally”. This could be interpreted in two ways, I think. Either an admission that he himself eats fish occassionally. Or an attempt to say “I myself do not eat fish. But maybe it is from a health perspective acceptable (at least not yet proven harmful) to eat fish occassionally.” in line with what John Mooter writes below.

        • MacSmiley

          That vagueness is precisely why I like the term plant-based. All the populations in the Blue Zones eat plant-based diets which include some animal foods.

          • Henry

            Agreed, eating small amounts of animal based foods has never been proven to be harmful and may make a plant-based diet “whole”. In that one would not need to take supplements. How’s that for blasphemy!

        • John Mooter

          Campbell does not eat any animal foods. I met him a few years back. What he says it that it has not been proven that a small amount of animal foods cause harm, for example, 1 or 2 percent of calories. Read his new book, “Whole”.

  • BB

    Ah, yes….the protein question. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me “how do you get enough protein?” Now, I can come back with, “how much fiber do you eat?”

    • Toxins

      I agree with you, I too get this question much too often. I still do not understand what the emphasis on protein is in this society. Protein deficiency does not exist without calorie deficiency, which would inherently come with micronutrient deficiency. The constant reminder in advertisement displaying X grams of protein per serving doesn’t help either. My mother goes to a Lifetime fitness gym and she saw a personal trainer. Even they pushed for her to start including protein powders in her diet, and she is not even plant based. Thankfully she ignored this advice. There is not one good reason based on the science to push for more protein in the American diet, the opposite is true. There needs to be a public health message to reduce overall protein intake, not continue to increase it.

      • BB

        Yes, I remember reading Adele Davis when I first became interested in nutrition and she advised high protein and dairy intake. Interesting that she died of cancer. She was my start at getting away from processed foods and learning about nutrients. Thank goodness, I later found the books of Nathan Pritikin, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. McDougall.

      • Han

        I think it’s caused by the same flawed logic that makes people think that diabetes is caused by eating sugar.

        “Meat contains shiploads of protein, so if you want to gain muscle you have to eat muscle.”

        So why are gorillas and elephants so strong and big?

        • KB

          They spend the majority of their time consuming relatively, calorically poor food sources. It would require a similar shift in quantity for us. Also, they possess the appropriate enzyme cocktails and digestive tracks for optimal extraction. Our digestive tracts are not as efficient. The amino acids obtained from plants are not in the correct ratio for human needs. Therefore we would be required to eat more plant protein to meet our requirements.

          • Han

            You really didn’t read what I said and reply with some unscientific claims.

      • kimberly

        The meat and dairy and egg industry’s all have way to much money for lobbying and instead of calling it meat they use the word protein to get people to eat it, like it is the only place it is in! That infuriates me! The other industries like vegetables and grans and fruits and lagoons do not get government subsidies like the meat and dairy and egg industries do.

        • Toxins

          So true, “protein” is used interchangeably with meat. This needs to change.

          • Ava

            And then one step even further by calling the animals. Making the connection that people are eating an animal helps them see beyond their plate to the reality.

    • mbglife

      Yeah and I also get people telling me that my diet is dangerous. When I press them for why they say because they heard you don’t get all your vitamins. When I ask which ones they say, “I don’t know, but you don’t”. So I tell them about B12 and site my blood level of B12. Then I ask if they know their level. Of course they don’t. If they are kind of nasty about it I also ask if they eat a brazil nut every day for selenium. Of course they think that’s…. nuts. [sorry, been listening to Dr. Greger too long. ;-) ]

      • sara

        hahhaha I didn’t know that was in a greger video, I too eat a brazil nut everyday (or every other day) for selenium!

      • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

        And to make it even more funny, many of the cadaver-eaters are probably low in B12, because of all the proton pump inhibitors they have to take, because of their heartburn, and PPI can cause malabsorption af B12.

      • kimberly

        I think it is great how you answer them. I had one person say that she know that we were to be eating meat just because she has lived on a farm her whole life. I just said to her have you studied how are body’s are made to work with the food we eat. That ended that. I have found that some people no mater what information you give them don’t want to change there core believes as it would mean that they were responsible for there health.

    • bruxe

      Forget protein, how on Earth are people supposed to get 4.5 grams of potassium daily?

  • Kevin M. Abbott

    The average target of 42g daily is interesting to me. The last time I researched it on the web the consensus of my requirement was bit higher than that, differing slightly by source, but was generally around 1 to 1.5g per kg, depending upon activity. That put my lanky butt at around twice the 42g daily target. This lower target you comforts me somewhat, because trying to eat that much protein is sometimes a challenge, especially on days when I do just fine on a couple of light vegan meals and a fruit smoothie or two. I had dismissed that high target as probably wrongly influenced by the traditional SAD, but was always a little doubtful about being right in doing so.

    • HereHere

      I believe you need 0.8 g/day, but 1g is a good buffer. Most athletes, excepting body builders, don’t even need 1.5g/day of protein. (There are some great videos out on vegan athletes with a dietitian).

  • Dr. Duda

    Dr. Greger, just to clarify, is your recommendation for November 13, 2012 to get 0.5mg/lb of protein still accurate? In that case, obviously, an intake of 42mg/day would be deficient for almost everyone. The good news appears that many of the vegetarian and vegan participants in this study would still be getting adequate protein, of around 60-80mg/day depending on ideal body weight. But some were probably not.

    • stevebillig

      Grams, not milligrams for sure. The numbers I am familiar with is that the body needs 0.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, though many recommend 0.8 grams to add a fudge factor. Given the findings on this video, a fudge factor does not seem to be needed.

      • Dr. Duda

        You’re right of course about grams, thanks. I encourage you to look at this video.

        • stevebillig

          I do remember that video and your question to Dr. Greger is warranted. Plus I stand corrected, a bit, for not noting that the denominator should be IDEAL body weight.

    • Sebastian Tristan

      I was about to ask the same question. It’s still confusing. 42 g/day vs 90 g/day is a big difference.

      • EduVegan

        The ratio is PER KILOGRAM of body weight, so if you need 0.6g/kg, a 150 pound person would need nearly 41 grams of protein per day.

  • Darryl

    From this very interesting paper:

    Overall, our human and animal studies indicate that a low protein diet during middle age is likely to be beneficial for the prevention of cancer, overall mortality, and possibly diabetes through a process that may involve, at least in part, regulation of circulating IGF-1 and possibly insulin levels. In agreement with other epidemiological and animal studies, our findings suggest that a diet in which plant-based nutrients represent the majority of the food intake is likely to maximize health benefits in all age groups. However, we propose that up to age 65 and possibly 70, depending on health status, the 0.7 to 0.8 g of proteins/kg of body weight/day reported by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, currently viewed as a minimum requirement, should be recommended instead of the 1.0–1.3 g grams of proteins/kg of body weight/day consumed by adults ages 19–70. We also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid low protein intake and gradually adopt a moderate to high protein, preferably mostly plant-based consumption to allow the maintenance of a healthy weight and protection from frailty.

    • b00mer

      “We also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid low protein intake and gradually adopt a moderate to high protein”

      Important to note that their interpretation of “low protein” is 4% of calories from protein, and that a “moderate to high” protein diet is “at least 10% of the calories consumed” from protein, which would still be quite low relative to what most people on the SAD consume.

      On a wfpb diet myself, I’m usually at about what they consider “high protein” (18%). When it first came out, this paper made me consider lowering my protein consumption. The funny thing is, it would be kind of difficult, as I don’t make any special effort to consume as much protein as I do.

      • Darryl

        Their low protein category is 20%. I really wish they had chosen more informative category bins as somewhere under 1% of the American population would be considered “low protein” and about 5% “high”, according to this data, more or less confirmed by this more recent survey.

        Likewise, I make no special effort to consume protein, and when I play on Cron-o-meter my diet ranges between 11-13% protein, and I’d have to eat significant added oils or junk-food to get below 10%. I don’t know how those in the low-protein category in the study are managing it, but its difficult eating just whole plant foods.

  • Deane Alban

    Even though I was a vegetarian for 20 years I’m no longer convinced this is the right way to eat. My first husband was a vegetarian who ate eggs and very little dairy. He ate no sugar, was extremely thin, and was also a runner. So imagine our shock when he was diagnosed with a serious heart problem. He needed a replacement valve. His surgeon said he aorta was so thin it was ready to burst. He survived this major operation but died within a year because he never recuperated properly. He literally wasted away. He could not build any muscle mass. Looking back I realize he did not utilize vegetable protein well. He always had digestive upset from legumes. The heart is a muscle. I believe he did not get enough protein from his diet to keep his heart healthy or to recover from a major operation. Since his passing I changed my diet to include meat.

    • mbglife

      Deane, I’m sorry to hear about your loss and your husband’s passing, especially since he was clearly working to keep in good health. But I don’t think that what might have been a specific condition for him is necessarily a general rule for the entire population. I react to sesame and turmeric and can’t eat either But that doesn’t make them bad for most people. My health and test results all improved when I went off animal products. Twenty-five years on I’m glad I made the change. Otherwise I’d be like my father brothers, heart attacks at early ages. As an omnivore, my cholesterol was 218 with LDL higher than HDL, as a vegan it’s 117 with HDL high than LDL.

    • bruxe

      I think your thoughts are reasonable. When I listen to these videos and others and listen carefully to what is said, the vast majority if about getting enough plant-based nutrients in our bodies. Somehow this all gets crammed together, maybe for good reasons, into never eat meat, but when I parse the actual words and studies I do not see the stressing of do not eat meat as much as I see eat more plant-based, do not eat processed foods, and not really much about meat except as it relates to the vast majority of people who only eat meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods of the average factory farmed processed American diet.

      I tried vegetarian for about a year and I think I got something out of it, but recently I have been eating meat and also not worrying about fat, though I don’t like fat so much. I feel much better and have more energy, and just feel more confident, but that’s just me.

      I think one problem in America is that we are so based around money that no one can just talk about the scientific data, because no one can afford to, everyone is selling something, and to differentiate “businesses” have to have something different to sell. So you have people focusing on gluten, sugar, carbs, greens, or whatever to try to market something, otherwise we never hear from anyone.

      • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

        I dont think that there are suffucient data to claim that 100% WFPB diet are better than 98% WFPB diet. Little meat or dairy on occassion probably wont hurt. For many going all the way (100% WFPB) is easier.

        • bruxe


          • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

            whole food plant based

          • bruxe


        • John Mooter

          Yes, and if you are an ethical vegan, it is easy to eat all plants…and I feel great!

        • Henry

          Agreed, methinks that more folks would be willing to go along with this approach. The either or approach emblematic of dualistic thinking turns off folks. Veganevangelism usually doesn’t work.

      • kimberly

        Meat and eggs and dairy are what are killing us! We are not made to eat any of it and are bodies are fighting back that is why so many are sick. If you educate your self and do the research you will know how to eat properly and have all the energy you need from a whole food plant based diet. You just have the belief indoctrinated in you since you were little like we all were. I have more energy then I ever had and if you were right then athletes before they do extraneous exercise would eat a hug steak but they fill up on complex carbohydrates. And elephant is the largest land animal and it has lots of energy and it is a herbivore.

      • KWD

        I understand what you are saying about stressing too much over “I must not have this” particular food (e.g. for me…dairy, eggs, fish). These foods were staples in my diet growing up so they are entrenched in my food history.

        However, in the last two years I’ve caught myself stressing over choosing an animal product because I watch the videos on here and I had some health issues (which now seem to be resolved, thankfully).

        I have found that since I’ve improved my wfpb diet (making sure I consume enough nutrients), I don’t get the same cravings leading me to my old stand-bys.

        And, in either case, I just decided to let go of that guilt / fear and just let myself have a dairy ice-cream if I want it, or an egg sandwich or a piece of fish, and now I’ve found I want those foods less and less.

    • Veganrunner

      Hi Deane,
      Values are a genetic issue. My husband also went through that surgery and it kicked his butt. It turns out they think the bad value and thinning aorta go hand in hand. His grandmother had the same issue.

      • marthala

        Do you mean VALVES are a genetic issue? Bad VALVE and thinning aorta go hand in hand?

        • Veganrunner

          I probably spoke too quickly. A bicuspid valve and a thinning aorta are often seen together. The point I wanted to make was that it is a very difficult surgery. Or were you just correcting my typos?

      • JPotter

        I have a bicuspid aortic valve and a couple years ago learned that I had a considerably dilated ascending aorta, as well. But I didn’t learn that until discussion at my next exam, which included a fresh echocardiogram. In the intervening two years, or a little before, I had switched to fully WFPBD (including no added oils). That most recent echocardiogram showed the aortic dilation much improved. Instead of being ready for surgery based on degree of dilation (as I might have been if the condition had progressed at the same rate as before), the dilation was reduced to almost within normal range. I was astonished, though neither my GP nor my cardiologist seemed all that interested. I’ll get another two year test this fall.

        If Esselstyn’s dietary approach is all about the health of the endothelium, that approach may have paid off in greatly improved elasticity in my aorta where it emerges from the still dodgy valve.

        Yes, the two conditions (bicuspid or other aortic valve defect and weakening of the adjacent segment of the aorta) indeed tend to go together– but perhaps only because of a predisposition to aortic weakening (thought to be caused by hydraulic abnormalities in flow from the diseased valve); perhaps the predisposition need not be fulfilled if the artery and its lining are healthy as a result of adequate diet– just as a genetic predisposition to heart disease in general need not result in actual disease if diet is adequate.
        My experience is just an anecdote, a single data point. However, it is, so far, contrary to the ordinary or expected progression of aortic dilation, and so, I would have thought, interesting.
        I am encouraged to hope that I might not need the ambitious surgery to replace the valve and adjacent portion of the aorta– or that I might avoid it for much longer than would have been the case if I had not encountered Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougal, Greger, et al.
        I would like to think that other patients with valve or aortic problems could benefit from a similar appoach.

        • Veganrunner

          Good news!

          My husband is a competitive cyclist so he tends to have his heart rate up into the 175 or higher range for extended periods of time. He became a bit tentative thinking he was going to blow.

          The newest thinking about the aortic aneurysm is that it is probably not caused by the funky way the blood is going through the valve but is just part of the genetic condition.

          Really interesting test results JPotter.

    • Nevo

      Thank you for sharing this. Do you think daily whey protein or yogurt or maybe some fish might have made the difference? Dealing with similar issues. Thanks.

      • Toxins

        As I told Deane, protein deficiency is non existent among vegetarians unless one is not getting enough calories. The addition of the suggested foods would hurt the quality of health. Reducing sodium intake and processed foods may be helpful.

        • Nevo

          I’ve had viral issues heal when including lean fish, and no veggie or fruit or nut or seed, grain or bean ever made a difference. I’m vegan now, and somewhat reluctant but doing it. But when I go back to “complete” fish proteins, viral issues often get better. Have tried all sorts of plant based proteins, in all amounts and combinations. I know of vegans who simply claim to have not “healed” whatever it is they were dealing with until they added back some non-vegan proteins. Everyone might be different in this regard. For now, I’m staying vegan, but I am open to the “truth” of other’s journey in this life, and where that “truth” might direct me.

    • Toxins

      Sorry for your loss Deane. Lets remember that a vegetarian diet is not necessarily healthy unless one is consuming the proper foods. Even a full vegan can consume a high sodium diet, processed foods (white flours) and free oils which would make this diet not particularly healthy. I know of no evidence suggesting those who are vegetarian do not get enough protein. As long as caloric needs are met, we will always get enough protein. The baggage that comes with meat consumption is not worth the risks. High sodium in particular has damaging effects in terms of blood vessels.

      • kimberly

        lets not for get cholesterol it is only found in animal products. and every time we eat any we also urinate out calcium. there for get osteoporosis.

    • kimberly

      There is so much information out there I am sorry that your husband died but it was all about the food he eat. Watch forks over knives Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s Heart Disease Prevention & Reversal. top in his field for curing heart disease.
      Food That Kills – Full Presentation

    • John Mooter

      Eating eggs is as bad as meat as far as the heart is concerned. Dr. Esselstyn has reversed heart disease with a low fat plant diet. Please read “WHole” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD

  • Matt

    I am curious as I workout frequently and am a 20 year old 180 lb male. I used to eat quite a bit more protein since I have changed my diet to almost entirely plant based. I have found that I have lost som weight, but have felt some decrease in muscle growth. Should I be eating more than 42 g of protein? I have heard recomendations for weight lifters in the realm of 1-1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight, for me that would be 80-120 g of protein! This sounds excessive, but a common among the powerlifting community. Any input or any way to increase protein consumption? I currently eat lots of nuts, have beans and whole grains at least once a day.

    • JoAnn Downey

      I suspect you’re getting way more than 42 grams. I eat beans every day and some days I get 60-70 grams of protein. Plug in a day’s food to and you might be surprised. I myself lost body fat after going 100% WFPB minimally processed no SOS, but I can still lift the same weight and continue to increase my strength.

      • Matt

        Yes, typically I consume anywhere from 40-50 g of protein sometimes less and sometimes more. I used to consume much more like closer to 100+ g a day. You don’t think I need more than just 40-50 g?

        • JoAnn Downey

          At 180 lb. if you go with the 0.8gm/kg, that would be 65gm. protein for your weight (81kg). I get 50 or 60gm protein on a 2000 calorie plan. You must be eating way more than that? You have to count all the protein in all your food to get the total – even kale which is 20% protein :) It all adds up. Beans, whole grains, nuts etc. Just 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 cup black beans, 1 oz walnuts and 2 slices whole wheat bread add up to 33gm protein.

          • tumeria33

            I am a personal trainer and body builder for the past 30 years.I have been vegan for over 13 years. I recently did a protein inventory just out of curiosity to see how much I was consuming on an average day. I weigh about 115 pounds so going with 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight, I need about 52 grams of protein per day. I wasn’t trying to consume protein.I was just eating a wide variety of whole plant foods.I was shocked to learn I was consuming about 75 grams!! This is without even trying! As long as your caloric intake is adequate, I can almost guarantee you are getting enough protein.

        • JoAnn Downey

          Matt, I found this discussion of plant protein you might find interesting :

        • Toxins

          You are definitely getting more then that if you add it up on

          I don’t even try to eat or seek protein rich foods. My diet naturally gets close to 100 grams per day.

    • Toxins

      You can’t force muscles to grow simply by consuming protein. Exercise determines muscle growth not diet. As long as you are consuming enough calories when you are hungry, till you are full, you will always be getting sufficient protein.

      • kimberly

        The problem is to much protein plants a re loaded with them!

      • Sebastian Tristan

        Exercise and genetics. Only a small minority of people can gain muscle the way professional bodybuilders can.

    • R2D2

      Even the American/Canadian Dietetic Associations claim that (at least for athletes:

      “Protein recommendations for endurance and strength-trained athletes range from 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg (0.5 to 0.8 g/lb) body weight per day. These recommended protein intakes can generally be met through diet alone, without the use of protein or amino acid supplements. Energy intake sufficient to maintain body weight is
      necessary for optimal protein use and performance.”

      “Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance” (2009) DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.01.005

      • Toxins

        Lets remember too that for an athlete, there would be an inherent increase in caloric needs, which would result in an unavoidable increase in protein.

      • Han

        The food pyramid also isn’t inspired by independant scientific research but rather by corperate lobying.

    • Sebastian Tristan

      I workout every day, but I don’t do it to gain mass. Gaining mass, in my situation, is a “side effect”. Some time ago, I viewed a video from the Doc about fenugreek giving test subjects improved strength and mass in a matter of weeks. I tried it and was astonished how much stronger it made me. Look for the video and try it out.

      As for protein, I’m currently quite confused myself about it. I strive for 90 g/day at 75 kg of body weight. However, most days I get more like 70-75 g/day. I am vegan.

  • Ariel Gail MacLean

    But Dear Dr. Greger, you never mentioned the question of protein quality or more accurately, the amino acid profile of the vegetarian diets eaten. For the last half century, since Frances Moore Lappe published her seminal book: Diet For A Small Planet, and made her foundational point of the incomplete amino acid profile of plant-based eating, I have been obsessed with always eating the correct matching plant-based protein sources so as to complete the amino acid profile which is the true value as a protein food. My understanding is that the total number is not the definitive value (grams of protein). I thought that plant-based sources are amino-acid deficient and therefore must be eaten at the same time as it’s complementary amino-acid protein source, and without this conscious planning, the incomplete protein food would simply be processed and utilized by our body as carbohydrate. This is where I have always assumed most vegetarians go wrong, and in fact, the slow wound healing, small birth-weight babies, and impaired immune systems of improper vegetarian diets which can so easily be found among the strict vegetarians I lived with early in my life (intentional communities living on the land, eating only Organic before it was PC, and adhering to strict vegetarian principles without regard to matching amino acids). Please address and clarify this question for the many considering what might be sloppy amino-acid matching of their new plant-based diets. Don’t we need to educate ourselves and learn to make carefully selected combination choices of legume-grain-seed-nut-supplements before switching to a vegetarian diet?

    • mbglife

      If I remember right, it was Dr. McDougall who noted in his writings or lectures that Frances Moore Lappe retracted her statements later after learning that it pretty much doesn’t matter when in the course of a 24 hours or longer that you eat a mix of amino acids, it will all come together. Further, it’s been shown that eating a variety of whole foods gets you there without having to worry about what you eat. I have never worried about after learning that.

    • Thea

      Ariel: Your concern is understandable as many people were mislead by that book. The author herself has since retracted that part of her book as a mistake on her part.

      Here are my two favorite sources for explaining human protein needs. Both of these sources address the problematic claims in the book Diet For A Small Planet. (check out December 2003 for McDougall’s site, “A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment”. Also April 2007, “When Friends Ask: Where do you get your protein?”)

      I hope that after you go through these sources, you will feel a huge sigh of relief. It means that you no longer need to stress about protein combining.

    • Toxins

      Firstly, I would like to quote the American Dietetics Association on their view of vegetarian diets and protein.

      “Plant protein can meet protein requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needs are met. Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults; thus, complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal ”

      As Jeff Novick puts it..

      Many say that plants foods are incomplete

      If “incomplete” means not containing all the essential amino acids then…. (the incomplete protein theory)

      1) All plant foods are complete as they contain all the essential amino acids.

      2) the only food that is not a complete protein is an animal food, gelatin.

      If “incomplete” means lacking in sufficient quantity of one or more amino acids…(the limiting amino acid theory)

      1) Getting all the amino acids in at once at the same meal, or even in the same day, as some may suggest, is not necessary due to the amino acid pool, which is a circulating level of amino acids in the blood, that the body can draw from if needed. As long as one follows a whole foods plant based diet, the amino acid pool will maintain a sufficient stock of any potentially needed (or limiting) amino acids.

      2) However, as long as one consumes enough calories, eats a variety of food, and limits junk foods and refined foods, and is not an all fruit diet, then they will get in enough protein and enough amino acids in sufficient quantity. There will be no limiting amino acids

      3) there is some evidence that the amino acids that are slightly lower (but adequate) in plant foods, may actually be a benefit to health and longevity and not a concern.

      Most every major health organization including the NAS, the WHO and the ADA all recognize these statements to be true.

    • kimberly

      All plants are whole proteins as long as you are eating a variety of whole food plant based foods you will get all that you need.

  • mbglife

    Dr. Greger: Speaking of whole plant food diets, I hope you might comment soon on Dr. Perlmutter’s (MD) “grain brain” conclusions that all carbohydrates are harmful to the brain, including whole grains and fruits (in small amounts). His book is out and he’s been on PBS a lot with warning people to stay off carbs. I saw his PBS show but didn’t read his book. He might be conflating refined whole grains–like whole wheat flour–with whole grains in a natural or lightly processed state. Then again, he seems to have problems with beans too. He presents findings that a person’s risk of dementia is very strongly correlated to their blood sugar, and that today’s “normal” level is way too high. I just wonder how correct he is and how much nuance there might be in the data causing him to reach an incorrect general conclusion. If you have any findings that could help clarify, it would be great to hear your thoughts.

    • Dr. Duda

      He does soon, and if you can’t wait, buy the Volume 19 DVD and you can find out what he has to say about it today!

      • mbglife

        Awesome! Thanks, Dr. Duda. Dr. Greger’s on top of it again. I’ll just wait for his comments to get posted. Dr. Perlmutter’s arguments didn’t really worry me. He seemed to lump too much together. I wasn’t convinced.

    • Thea

      mbglife: I like Dr. Duba’s answer. I too can’t wait to see what Dr. Greger has to say, and happily he is going to be saying something.

      If you are interested, here is also an answer from Dr. McDougal:

      January 2014: “The Smoke and Mirrors behind Wheat Belly and Grain Brain” by McDougall.

      • mbglife

        Great! Thanks!

      • joeboosauce

        I can’t believe they have guys like this on PBS. How about Dr Gregor doing something on PBS? Great way to reach a big audience like these no-carb folks but with something worthwhile. Does anyone know if McDougall, Campbell, etc have done anything on PBS?

        • Thea

          joeboosauce: I don’t know about McDougall or Campbell, but I believe that Dr. Barnard did at least two shows on PBS. I have two of Dr. Barnard’s DVDs which say, “As ween on Public TV” at the top. 1) Kickstart Your Health, 2) Protect Your Memory.

    • bruxe

      I caught that show on PBS myself the other day. I did not know what to think, but my first impulse was that this guy is another nut who blames all the ills of civilization on one thing – gluten … which always makes it much easier to get people interested and sell things from books to supplements.

      I don’t think he said all carbohydrates were bad, or maybe I just missed that part since I did not watch the whole thing.

      I saw a documentary on I think it was NetFlix called “Fresh” where they floated an idea that Alzheimer’s was a kind of diabetes of the brain, and that a lot of diseases could be viewed as the effects of too much sugar on different organs.

      I’m thinking “we” are learning a lot in science about health, nutrition and disease and closing in on some good findings, but we are not there are extreme recommendations that fall outside of the obvious – like we eat too much sugar and processed food and chemicals is uncalled for and probably not valid.

    • Toxins
    • BB

      This grain brain theory is a bunch of nonsense. Dr. Perlmutter uses gluten as his proving point to why all carbs are bad. As a person with Celiac disease, I feel this diminishes the seriousness of this disease. The last thing a person with an auto-immune disease (Celiac) needs to do is center their diet around animal products. I eat gluten-free grains, beans and lots of complex carbs. Brown rice is especially healing for my compromised digestive tract.

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    And people wonder why they are fat, constipated, get cancer, heartdisease, hypertension, diabetes and get depressed – it must be genetic! There must be a pill to pop! No – take control of your own health destiny. Eat right. Mostly WFPB diet.

    • Veganrunner

      I saw the best bumper sticker today. “Animals die to feed your fat ass.”

      • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

        LOL. I want a sticker like that!

        • Coacervate

          Comon dudes. do you want to reach an audience or score points?

          • largelytrue

            Yeah, I’d prefer to help show that WFPB is a broad tent, myself. Note that Dr. Greger generally tries to play an optimistic tune that is more or less directly orthogonal to the ‘angry vegan’ projection, stereotype, and impediment to mass persuasion. He’s fully capable of writing angry vegan screed though. Carbophobia has some of that vibe.

          • Veganrunner

            I absolutely agree with both of you. It just made me chuckle.

          • joeboosauce

            Haha, you are right Coacervate! I like it but good point!

  • bruxe

    > The only nutrient Americans may be more deficient in than fiber is potassium.

    Thanks for posting that and bringing up the subject of potassium. I don’t know what to think about potassium. The daily requirement for potassium is like 4 and a half grams. That is a lot of potassium.

    Potassium supplements, I think, by law can only have 99 milligrams, so that if you had to get your potassium from supplements you would need just under 50 pills to get enough.

    How is anyone supposed to get 4.5 grams of potassium a day. When I look at the potassium content of foods most foods have so little potassium that you would have to spend the whole day eating them to get enough potassium.

    Some coconut water has a lot of potassium … I think about half a gram of potassium per serving, which I think is one cup. Still that is 12 cups or coconut water.

    To get enough potassium one seems to have to build their whole diet around heavy potassium sources, and I am not even sure you can get enough any way you cut it.

    1. How was the daily requirement of potassium set? Is it really so high.

    2. Why is potassium so hard to get, or even supplement?

    • Darryl

      The 4.7 g AI for potassium was set by the U.S. Food and Nutrition board with the rationale set forth here, as one that would “lower blood pressure levels, reduce the adverse effects of sodium chloride intake on blood pressure, reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones, and possibly decrease bone loss”. As there are antagonistic interactions with sodium, it seems possible that those eating a low salt diets could get by with less.

      In pill form, potassium can lodge against the intestinal walls and cause lesions. Since 1975, the U.S. FDA has required a long warning label on supplements containing 100 mg or more potassium, so non-prescription potassium supplements in the U.S. all have 99 mg.

      It’s not hard to get enough potassium eating whole plant foods. A medium (2 3/4″ diam.) potato, a 10 oz. package of spinach, or 1 1/3 cup cooked lentils each have 1 g, so there’s 3 g K in 550 calories.

      • Devin Wiesner

        Medjool dates have a fair bit as well. I only mention this as they are so delicious and for many vegans a regular treat.

      • Veganrunner

        I knew you would put this into a usable bit of info!

      • bruxe

        Thanks for the info …

        … but think about what you are saying …
        i medium potato, 10 oz. spinach and 1/3 cup lentils …
        that is a lot of bulk to eat everyday, and it still does not get to the 4.5, though you quality the 3.5 number credibly.

        There is also the fact that a lot of the nutrition info that we get about foods is wrong or inflated. Unless they put potassium into the ground in quantity enough to have it taken up into the tuber we will have potatoes with less nutrition than what the stats say. I don’t trust the agriculture industry anymore on these issues.

        I’m just thinking what you said does not refute my statement that it is hard to get enough potassium in a diet without eating certain key foods in quantity everyday and planning your diet around potassium.

        Maybe the potassium in a potato is mostly in the skin so one could avoid all the carbs and starch of a whole potato, or increase the potato “dose” to 2 if just eating the skin.

        • Darryl

          Potassium is a required nutrient in agriculture, and unlike trace minerals (selenium etc), its liberally added to top-soil in both conventional and organic agriculture. Its the 3rd number in NPK ratings of fertilizers.

          • Ben

            Darryl, do you eat green bananas or cooked potatoes that have been cooled, or do you add raw potato starch to stuff? Or do you think we get enough resistant starch just from a few servings of beans and eating a WFPB diet. Should I add some raw potato starch to my smoothies? Or should I eat one green banana a day? I bet eating a cooked and cooled purple potato would be really good. I wonder how long it has to be cooled?

          • Darryl

            Hi Ben. If I really needed more calories, I might think of adding potato starch to the morning smoothie, or making more glass noodle (pre-gelatinized starch) dishes. For the most part, I think I’m doing fine with daily beans and the occassional potato to feed my gut flora and colonocytes. As for details about cooking/cooling techniques to maximize retrogradation in say, potatoes, it appears the cooking temperature has to be above boiling (100 C/212 F), but its retrogradation is maximized if maintained at a higher temperature for a while. Ie, roasting potatoes in the oven and (!) turning it off before leaving for work. I haven’t done this experiment, and the whole subject is pretty new to me.

          • Ben

            Thanks, Darryl!

            I have an idea to make a purple potato salad. Potato salads taste great cold. It’s easy to make an oil free mayonnaise with tofu.

      • sophia Lu

        Darryl or anyone else here….I am truly in need some guidance from someone who actually gets the complexity of health in regards to vitamin D. My child – 19 years old – gets outbreaks of cold-sores/lip herpes every time he takes vitamin D supplements. The type of D, the amount, etc., they all do the same thing. Same thing happens when he eats fish with D, like salmon and sardines. Vegan D also. He has autoimmune ailments – psoriasis – and latest doctor told us vitamin D can suppress immune system in patients who have autoimmune disorders.
        Sunshine does not create viral outbreaks in him, so D is ok there, but the big issue is that the “D” from the supplements and that naturally occurring in food also are triggering other autoimmune issues when he takes or ingests the food – like facial twitching – bells palsy sort of – and he gets sick as well. Flu symptoms, very tired for days upon taking D. So, is the doctor correct that for some people, “D” reduces immune power and opens one up to latent viruses? Much appreciated, your insight.

        • Ben

          Try vitamin D mushrooms. Mushrooms are a real superfood and immune system enhancer and it shouldn’t cause him any problems if he is not sensitive to sunlight since that’s where the mushrooms are getting the vitmain D, from sunlight.

    • Toxins

      Almost every fruit has at least 10% of the DV of potassium. Please see here.

    • Sebastian Tristan

      The food highest in Potassium is the tomato.

  • Anita Turner

    This is good news, I eat a plant based diet, no meat or dairy. and this is the best time of the year to do so..farmer’s markets are everywhere. I get the same question, where do you get your protein, and I reply from my food. I have the lab results to prove it.

  • Coacervate

    If we all get a double load of protein, why don’t we all get metabolic acidosis?

    • Darryl

      Arguably, we do.

      • Coacervate

        Just read it, thanks! Could we conclude that the high K content of a WFPB diet offsets the protein ENAP load?

        this paper is a bit dated…do you know of any further developments? Just wondering, are you a teacher, Prof. or self educated?

        • Darryl

          Here’s a 2011 review of diet induced metabolic acidosis (link will d/l a pdf). Dr. Greger covered the shifting assessment on where the urinary calcium was coming from and where it was harming us (in muscle loss) in two videos last year:
          Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, & Calcium Loss
          Testing Your Diet with Pee & Purple Cabbage

          • Coacervate

            I’m just trying to get an understanding of this. The review states:” Persons consuming a diet based on animal protein have higherkidney net acid excretion and more acidic urinary pH than persons on a plant-based diet. The urinary excretion of sulfate, phosphate,and uric acid is also higher in persons on the animal protein diet,compared with the vegetarian diet.”

            This turns virtually everything I’ve been taught (and repeating as an authority) on its ear. For example, we touted dairy as a high sulfur, high phosphate protein. So superior to plant foods. So healthy. How could we have gotten it so wrong?

            Question: I am tempted to reduce my intake of protein, eat more starches until my urine pH rises to the higher side of normal. Would that be a worthwhile exercise?

          • Darryl

            We got it wrong for so long due to well-intentioned scientists applying the lessons of early 20th century nutrition (vitamin deficiencies cause disease) to macronutrients like protein. Within broad limits, excesses of many vitamins aren’t problematic, so perhaps nutrition need only concern itself with the minimum requirements for protein, too.

            The lessons from nutrition for the last 50 years are mostly about nutritional excess. Saturated fat and added sugars have both come under well-deserved scrutiny, but there are also issues with excess protein: in aggregate, stimulating sometimes unwelcome growth signalling, and of specific amino acids, like methionine. I think experimental gerontologists are at the forefront of this change, as the last decade has pinned down some mechanisms for how caloric restriction extended lifespan, and at least half of the effect can now be attributed to protein restriction.

            I too am conducting an N=1 experiment. I believe unless your diet is largely added sugars, fats, alcohol or low protein foods like cassava and taro, its highly unlikely you’ll face any amino acid deficiencies, though a couple servings of beans daily will provide a margin of safety for lysine (the amino acid of concern in vegan diets). It’s very difficult to be protein deficient eating only whole plant foods, but they can provide protein moderation.

          • DGH

            Regarding protein restriction, I am somewhat skeptical for a couple of reasons:

            1) Epidemiological data suggest a strong inverse relationship between protein intake (both animal and plant-based) and fracture risk (so osteoporosis).

            2) Anyone who engages in strength/resistance training will likely need to increase their protein intake, as will elderly persons at risk for sarcopenia.

            3) Protein intake is net neutral or even positive with respect to metabolic syndrome risk, unlike processed carbohydrates or saturated fat. I believe this is especially the case with plant-based proteins.

            4) Protein is uniquely satiating in a way that carbs are not. I find nothing so satiating as a bowl of edamame (without salt or oil), as a snack.

            I am not saying we should all go out and eat a bunch of steak, but it is difficult to maintain a plant-based diet largely based on carbs, especially for those of us who are at risk for metabolic syndrome.

          • Coacervate

            Yes indeed, I’ve heard about a certain road paved with good intentions. With science the truth eventually comes out. The candle sputters in the darkness, then brightens…Maybe the next edition of Fennema will illuminate?

            I AM taking your comments onboard, but I checked our pH’s this AM: Mine is 6.5 and hers is 7.1 Some references state normal urine pH ranges from 4 to 8.

            She is always better than me…she has total control. I want to get into the 7+ range and see if my general joint/pain level improves.

            I’ve found myself trending towards high protein meals and even cheating with some seafood and parmesean…so I’m determined to redouble the effort and get my pH as alkaline as a reasonable diet change can muster. But I take your point regarding protein restriction.

            Question: Do you think increasing high K foods is a good way to bring up pH? We both eat a lot of beans/greens/bananas already.

            Your experiment … are you doing anthing specifically to limit protein overload?

            Also, we’ve been eating a lot of beet, rocket and other high nitrate foods. Could high dietary nitrate trend one towards the acidic side?

            Darryl, you help a lot of people here. Thanks for taking the trouble.

          • Darryl

            I don’t think protein restriction (as some animal lifespan studies) is really feasible or wise, but moderation of specific amino acids like methionine may account for some of the advantages of plant protein sources. High protein intake can strengthen bones and prevent frailty, and the Levine et al. paper clearly points out the advantage of <10% protein diets was limited to those 19-65. What's exciting to me is that the pathways involved for later life disease reduction from mid-life protein moderation (or choice) are becoming clearer.

            Some IGF-1/mTOR activation is necessary for muscle/bone maintenance, and if that proves mostly a matter of leucine intake, then perhaps higher leucine / methionine ratio proteins like lentils, adzuki beans and split peas can provide most of the benefits with fewer of the drawbacks. Leucine is also the amino acid most responsble for satiety through hypothalamic mTOR activation. Personally, I'm kinda hoping myostatin inhibitors will be approved by the time frailty looms.

            There's also a fascinating and understudied story with glycine. One group calcuates glycine may be a semi-essential amino acid with widespread deficiencies potentially leading to collagen loss and osteoporosis. It may also work as an antidote to excess methionine (see also). WRT glycine, animal proteins have an advantage, though legumes are the food group with the highest glycine / methionine ratio.

          • DGH

            The problem with mechanistic data is that “the road to hell is paved with biological plausibility”. Isolating the effects of one micronutrient in vitro or in animal models or even in humans is a mug’s game of reductionistic science. Then when these things get applied in large randomized trials, they usually fail (or worse), as seen with the antioxidant vitamins or the amino acid L-arginine. And mechanistic science is often internally contradictory – soy protein increases IGF-1, yet in Far East Asian societies, soy appears to be protective against some common cancer types. I think what we are finding is that there are a million ways to go plant-based. Individuals have different physiologies, and some react very poorly to excesses in certain macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates). I salute you for doing your N=1 trial. We are all doing that. I have recently added a number of non-nutritional modalities (yoga, meditation, exercise) to see how I can complement the nutritional approach to better health.

          • JoAnn Downey

            I eat according to Dr. McDougall based on “The Starch Solution”. Starches every meal plus colorful non-starchy veggies, whole grains, legumes and fruits. When I got meat and dairy out of my diet, I actually reversed osteoporosis. Countries with the highest dairy consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

  • scoop c

    This vid is a spearhead to the very heart of everything isn’t it?? Really Awesome.

    • val

      haha! YEP, the title says “protein”–gets everyone’s attention…then it ends up being more about FIBER…far more important!!!! So, I shared this on my FB page…hope at least ONE fb friend learns something from it!

  • scoop c

    This vid just goes the the very heart of all of it doesn’t it? Really awesome, broad stroked and poignant at the same time. Giterdone.

  • JR

    What is the word on this new book “The Big Fat Surprise”? Is saturated fat now good for us? Just another excuse for meat eaters?

    • Merio

      I can’t read the article but to me it seems another confusionist book like Gary Taubes and co… i suggest you to take your time and watch the work of Plantpositive:

      Start from “The Primitive Nutrition Series”… it’s a must see for my point of view…

      • JR

        Thanks! I will take a look.

        • largelytrue

          Since I predict it’s unlikely that most people are going to bother reading this book, I’d suggest you also have a look at Michael Eades’ encomiastic review and CarbSane’s negative evaluation of the book as well as the mainstream publicity. There’s broad support for the idea that this work is largely derivative of Taubes, however you stand with respect to the book’s truth and honesty. Taubes apparently had something of a hand in shaping the manuscript.

          So specifically I’d say that Nina is mostly a clone of Taubes, and her book may be even less rigorous than GCBC.

  • anderson

    careful of false sense of safety and overload on soy !! too much soy is like too much protean and become carcinogenic no different from too much meat.

  • Borkent

    I think if I have to summarize my plant based diet in one sentence: I only eat foods containing significant fiber, nothing else except for water.

    • val

      nice Borkent!!! I strive to also say the same! I try to figure out: how can I put more fiber in my breakfast.lunch.dinner.?

  • Susan

    I would love to see Dr. Greger address hair loss and veganism. I am experiencing this for the first time in my life. I have always had a very thick head of hair. I have been a vegetarian for 11 years (no problem with that) but after being vegan for 1 1/2 years, my hair is thinning. I know quite a few women who stopped being vegan for this exact reason. What is the supplementation we should be taking, or what foods should we be eating more of to avoid this?

    • DGH

      How is your thyroid function? Do you take a kelp or iodine supplement, or eat seaweed? Iodine is essential for thyroid metabolism, and if you are whole foods plant-based, you won’t be getting a lot of iodine or iodized salt. One sign of hypothyroidism is alopecia.

      • val

        yesyes…eat a sheet of nori each day! I do it…and one of my cats fights me for it!

    • Veganrunner


    • Ben

      Look into to supplementing with Amla powder. Dr. Gregor recommends it as possibly the best non-toxic superfood and many people claim it helps them with their hair, prevents and/or helps with regrowth. It’s anecdotal but worth a shot since there are many health benefits to taking the Amla.

    • Sebastian Tristan

      The first time I tried to become vegan (from a vegetarian starting spot), I had several problems including thinning hair and hair loss. Nevertheless, although vegan, my diet wasn’t healthy. I was eating mostly soy milk and whole-wheat bread (which had sugar, fructose, etc. added). The second time I tried going vegan, I did it following to the Doc’s recommendations and my hair is more than fine with even less hair loss than when I was a pescetarian.

      • Thea

        Sebastian: Your story is very interesting and may be the key to understanding what is going on. I have a family member who had a lot of hair loss prior to going vegan. After she went vegan, the hair loss stopped and even started to fill in a little bit (though not a full reversal).

        Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

  • DGH

    I find this topic to be extremely confusing. One vegan RD recommends 1.1 g/kg of protein ( ), and I have found that the addition of plant-based protein to the diet really helps with exercise and satiety. Protein intake is inversely related to fracture risk.

  • JHM

    A quick question for Dr. Greger – you noted that most everyone, carnivores and herbivores alike, are getting more protein than they need. Is that a problem that vegans and vegetarians should worry about? Dr. Campbell has noted that protein in excess of about 12% of total calories can be carcinogenic. Or is plant-based protein not a reason for concern? Thanks!

  • Michael

    I wish there were more data on the optimum amount of protein for quality of life and thriving, not just the minimum to avoid protein deficiency. This would be useful information. People often say that they include protein sources in their diet, not because they “need” more protein, but because it helps stabilize their blood sugar, keeping them full longer. This not an argument for eating animal protein. One can accomplish this using plant protein sources, such as tofu or protein powder, such as pea, rice, or hemp protein.

    • JoAnn Downey

      Dr. McDougall’s starch based plan results in weight loss, more than enough protein but the potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes and whole grains are filling and satiating as are the legumes and beans. I am never hungry when eating starchy foods every meal. I think we tend to get wrapped up in the minutia of numbers, but a whole food plant-based minimally processed diet provides perfect nutrition. Excess protein is hard on the kidneys and older people have less kidney function as the years go by.

  • David Bronfman

    Excellent come-back to the ever-present question “where do you get your protein” (ie, that fibre is the issue, not protein). But still I would have liked to see an answer that included reference people eating an omnivorous diet get more protein than their kidneys can handle, leading to a variety of health problems.

  • Jeremy Hackworth

    This video is interesting. It starts out showing the large epidemiological study done in JAMA 2013 to lay the ground work. In this study, pescetarians had the best odds ratio for all-case mortality (0.82) -
    which means, they are the healthiest, and live the longest (die the least
    often), etc. However, at the end, the video then claims that the BEST diet is whole food plant based (with no animal protein).


    About the conversation with TC Campbell, in his China Study audio version, he mentions that he doesn’t eat animal based protein, but
    this only happen a few years previous to the publication of the book.

    It is also interesting to note, that the data IS VERY CLEAR (according to his studies), that eating animal protein in your diet up to 5% is NOT harmful. But 20% of animal protein IS harmful. That is hard data. So 5% or less is okay of animal protein.
    Actually, based on this data, we can’t even say “animal protein.”
    Most of the science is from cow protein. It is likely a stretch to say all animal protein is the same.

    The real problem with animal protein (studies have shown) is the fact that they have such a high content of Omega-6 oil. If you eat corn feed animals, and a “normal” diet, your omega-6/omega-3 intake is about 15:1. This is highly inflammatory and needs to be more like a 3:1 to 1:1 ratio.
    Unfortunately, no study that I am aware of has been done to compare an
    omnivore diet with naturally feed animals, vs an omnivore diet vs corn feed animals. The only thing we really have is the study first shown in this video that – once again – clearly shows that pescetarian diet is the

  • Jeremy Hackworth

    Also, just noticed he didn’t have that article referenced in his sources list. It must have been an oversite. Here is the reference.

    Orlich, Michael J., et al. “Vegetarian dietary patterns and mortality in Adventist Health Study 2.” JAMA internal medicine 173.13 (2013): 1230-1238.

  • JR
  • Gemmee

    Great article… I am just embarking on adopting a vegetarian diet and have discovered that it really isn’t difficult to make tasty and satisfying meals that provide adequate amounts of protein. I feel much better as a result. But I do have a question–not directly pertaining to the protein question though. I have purchased several cookbooks–Forks over Knives, The China Study cookbook, and Dr. Neal Bernard’s Get Healthy, Go Vegan… I notice in all three that there is no use of oil at all, even the healthy varieties (avocado, olive, etc). These are plant based oils; I’m having trouble keeping up with the changing philosophies regarding oils— years ago it was no-fat, then the philosophy changed to indicate that low-fat really wasn’t a good way to go. Are we back to the no-fat philosophy again or is the lack of oil in these 3 cookbooks related to the vegetarian diet?

  • JJ

    This video barley talks about vegetarian diets; the title is quite misleading. It is hard to find information about vegan/vegetarian diets that doesnt actually focus on meat diets. Annoying.

    • JJ

      And by barley I mean “barely” LOL, funny vegan slip :D

  • Guest

    Where did the 40 grams average protein need level cited here come from? The often quoted .8/kg of body weight means a 170 pound person (77.1 kg) should consume 62 grams of protein.

  • jaless

    I have a question. Why is it that vegetarians consume dairy and eggs when they are ethically against the slaughter of animals for human consumption? The dairy and egg industries treat cows and chickens inhumanely and they suffer greaty, so how can they condone those abuses?

  • Betseyb

    I am 46. I am 5’8 and weigh 56.8 kg. I am vegan. I do moderate exercise 3 times a week and weight about 1-2 times a week. The trainer I work with at the gym says that I need 80g protein (and I need lots of soy). Based on your article and online calculators I think it should be less, max 45g per week, (which i can get following a varied plant based diet.) Who is right? Also, can you get too much plant based protein (excluding isolated plant protein)?

    • Thea

      Betseyb: I love the protein questions because there are generally very clear answers to them. If you work your way through the following two articles, I think you will be very happy with the answers. More importantly, you will have good clear data and understanding of protein to use when you end up having “the protein discussion” with other people.

      For McDougall’s site, find December 2003 and the article, “A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment”.

    • Don Forrester MD

      I would add to Thea’s suggestions two further McDougall Newsletters, April 2007… Where do I get my Protein, and January 2004… Protein Overload. Given adequate calories protein is a nonissue for the general population. Given current science we should not go out of our way to consume extra protein. Of course there may be some people with metabolic disorders that don’t fit these general rules. Congrats on your healthy lifestyle and keep tuned to as the science keeps coming.

  • JoAnn Downey Ivey

    I check my numbers occasionally on Cronometer. Last check I got 79 gm fiber, 77 gm protein. Well over 100% of the RDA for essential amino acids, a nice Omega 6:3 ratio of 1.6:1, 100% of RDA for minerals and Vitamins (except B12 and D). And 10.1% total fat which is the figure showing reversal of heart disease. All on a WFPB minimally processed plan with no oil or added sugar and salt. Lots of energy for weight lifting and 5 grandkids!

  • Ray

    42g Protein/day??? The is a total load of bull. Firstly, protein requirements are based on g/kg or % of kcals. Secondly, take a look at Rajavel Elango and colleague’s work regarding protein requirements using the indicator amino acid method:

    “The indicator amino acid oxidation-based requirement values of 0.93 and 1.2 g protein/kg/day and the reanalysis of existing nitrogen balance studies are significantly higher than current recommendations. Therefore, there is an urgent need to reassess recommendations for protein intake in adult humans.”

    So, I think it’s more likely that you have confirmed that most vegetarians/vegans do NOT get adequate protein in their diet. The fact that you present other parts of the diet that are generally lacking is just a red herring in regards to the protein argument.

  • Shayna Teicher

    Hi Dr. Gregor – LOVE LOVE LOVE the new website! I was hoping you could do a video/article soon regarding the recent popularity of Pea Protein and it’s potential safety, benefits (or lack thereof). I’ve had difficulty in locating reliable (unbiased) information about pea protein. Some online articles indicate that HYDROLYZED pea protein can contain free glutamic acid or msg, but not all pea proteins are hydrolyzed. I’m not generally a fan of single-macronutrient products like protein powders anyway and try to get my nutrients from whole foods as much as possible, but it’s nice to have the option sometimes if I’m making a shake or smoothie to get a protein boost as I just haven’t seemed to build up the stomach capacity on an plant based diet to fit all that food in there, and sometimes I just want a break from nut/seed butters, quinoa and whole soy. This was recommended by a vegan food blogger who is highly educated and who I respect greatly so I tried it and really like it. I would greatly appreciate your insights into this topic AND you’ll be just about the first major nutrition name to address it (Sorry, haven’t considered Dr. oz to be one in years). Thank you! I hope to see a response in one of your upcoming email updates. I can’t begin to tell you how much the valuable information you provide here has helped me improve my life and health, and that of people care about. Much thanks and blessings to you. This is the particular product I’ve been trying

  • elliot tilden

    How come nutrition labels do not include an RDA percentage for protein? This value can be derived from the other known values (fat calories+carbohydrate calories+protein calories=total calories, assuming we are not including alcohol) but why is it not listed? I am pretty sure that I remember seeing a percent value years ago but now it is not there. Is there lobbying going on behind the scenes to keep the value off the label? The fda website does not seem to be of any use on the issue. Thank you!

  • brit

    I have been a strict vegetarian for over 10 years but starting to relax abit as I am concerned with some of the data and whether for instance eating organic dairy yogurt will really cause me to have breast cancer

  • josepi

    Dr. McGregor, I recently experience a water fast at True North. While I had great results, my sugar addiction came back and I have gained half of the weight back. Well enough is enough, I am training for a bikini competition for July 2015 startingat ground zero and all of these trainers are protein protein protein, supplement, supplement, supplement. I want to train plant based with out all the protein powders and weird supplementation (BCAA’s et all) Am I misinformed or are they? The training isn’t as rigorous as people think: 3-5 45 minute weight training episodes a week a 3 20 minute cardio a week. I eat beans and I eat varied (when i am not being an addict) I take a B12 and D3 and that is it.