If you are a baby boomer or older, chances are you have been indoctrinated into the belief that animal protein is essential to human health, giving us strength and energy we cannot get without meat and dairy in our diet. For generations, this misguided claim has been zealously and successfully promoted by both the USDA and its powerful allies on the animal agriculture front. So embedded is this belief by some today that you’ll often hear of psychosomatic “placebo-like” symptoms of fatigue and lack of energy from those who claim they must have meat and dairy in their diet to feel healthy. And even when faced with the overwhelming evidence linking epidemic chronic diseases to animal products, some continue to defend the protein myth to the bitter end.
For Chef Tal Ronnen, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do quality proteins exist in the plant kingdom in great abundance and variety, they don’t carry all the negative health “baggage” that its animal counterparts do. Some of the latest discoveries in nutritional science in fact conclude that the body does not discriminate between plant and animal protein. Protein is protein. And while the FDA claims that all we really need is 50 grams per day, the average American gets 100 grams or more! As Chef Tal puts it, we can easily meet our daily protein requirement with a serving of tofu and a side of quinoa. Done!
In his New York Times Bestseller, The Conscious Cook, Chef Tal devotes a section of the book to his favorite plant protein sources. And that is our focus here. So the next time you face the animal protein question, you too can help dispel that myth by spreading the word about some of the best protein sources on the planet.
Quinoa A great whole grain substitute for white rice, quick and easy to prepare as a high protein side dish or salad
Nuts Almonds and walnuts are particularly dense in protein and many other essential nutrients. Buy and use them raw for maximum benefits or roast them yourself at 170 F for 15 minutes to retain as much of their nutrient power as possible. And don’t miss Chef Tal’s recipe for cashew cream which he praises as “the magic ingredient that makes it easy to live without dairy.”
Lentils A tremendous source of protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins
Tofu The incredible edible and versatile soy curd that can become anything from a silky smooth desert to a firm, pan-seared breaded cutlet.
Other great sources of protein can also be found in a wide range of legumes and whole grains. Remove the gas from legumes and beans by avoiding canned cooked beans and buy dry beans instead. You’ll find specific instructions for preparing beans free of gas at chezbettay.com.
So as you can see all this fuss about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet is just plain superstition. And the new generation of plant-based chefs like Tal Ronnen are revolutionizing the way we prepare and enjoy food that is not only superior for our health, but also a key component to living a greener and more compassionate life.