You hear it all the time. There are amino acids/proteins you can only get from animals. Plant sources don't contain all of them. What is the foundation for people saying this? The earth is flat?
I'm really just wondering the science behind it, since I hear this a lot and would like to give a good, well researched response with valid sources. Does Doug Graham cover this question?
Thank you guys!

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  • Its a MYTH plants contain essential proteins. Its a MYTH I have cycled over 210 000km as a vegan and won over 30 running races in 2012.


    We need to eat dogs AND take whey protein cos its mega bioavailable. I order mine direct from the Hodge Twins Affiliate store. 


    • I will let my friend know!!! ;)

  • hi kimberry! nice to see you again!

    here's a summary with references you may find useful:

    one of the key references from there is mcdougall's article:

    Plant Foods Have a Complete Amino Acid Composition

    note what he says:

    The reason it is important to correct this misinformation [ie plant protein is incomplete] is that many people are afraid to follow healthful, pure vegetarian diets—they worry about “incomplete proteins” from plant sources. A vegetarian diet based on any single one or combination of these unprocessed starches (eg, rice, corn, potatoes, beans), with the addition of vegetables and fruits, supplies all the protein, amino acids, essential fats, minerals, and vitamins (with the exception of vitamin B12) necessary for excellent health.

    part of the problem is confusion with terminology - 'profile' is confused with 'completeness'. this was largely responsible for the "combining" paranoia particularly in the 80s after frances lappe moore made a statement to the effect that to have a similar animal amino acid profile, you needed to combine various plant foods. some primitive, superstitious people misinterpreted her as saying to have complete amino acid you had to carefully combine plant sources - so your flat earth theory is somewhat correct. :D

    there is no need to simulate animal protein profiles (though i think soy may come closest to it - can't quite recall). just eat a variety of plant foods (which is generally wise and tasty anyway) and all is well - far better than munching on corpse parts, slurping mammarian secretions and sucking up menstrual excretions (please forgive the amniotic poetic license on the last one).

    in friendship,


    Complete protein
    A complete protein or whole protein is a food source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of each of the nine essential amino acids necess…
    • Thank you thank you Prad! <3 I will read through everyone's links later. :)

  • Article on dietary protein and "completeness" of plant proteins (link below). The real question SHOULD be why were people fooled into thinking that only meat and dairy had protein sufficient for their diets? If you haven't, read the China Study by T. Colin Campbell, great book!

    • Thank you! Yes I was wondering that question as well. I hear it so much, so I figured I'd ask what the real deal is!

  • Thank you everyone for your answers! They are very helpful. :)
    This way of eating makes sense to me, even without the science and details. I just wanted some solid answers for those who aren't so easily convinced. ;)

  • Kimberry,   The human body does not use protein, it utilizes amino acids (protein subunits). If you eat animal protein your body must use proteases to split it into amino acids (mono units).  Best would be to consume the amino acids. It is partially why eating a big protein meal from beef takes 5-10 hours to digest and results in significant fatigue and a fruit meal may digest in 15 - 30 minutes and result in added energy.  All essential amino acids are available in fruit, although higher in some vegi's. The body is amazing at recycling proteins and assembling amino acids intoproteins.  The only problem is insuring that you eat enough calories from fruits and vegi's to meet your minimum amino acid requirements. Part of the problem is that many nutrition text books teach the chemistry correctly but still are filled with outdated opinions on the quality of meat protein and the timing of essential amino acid consumption.  Truthfully, quality research is deficient in this area. We know that the human body only requires amino acids.  Hopefully I made sense. ~Timothy.

  • All plant sources are "complete" proteins. Bananas have all the essential amino acids, even iceberg lettuce has them all.

    The problem is when people look at stupid protein "quality" scores which look at the ratio of aminio acids within the food, so in some instances it looks like there is a deficiency in one or more amino acids.

    This complete protein nonesense was a myth from the 80s which has gotten seriously out of control. Protein is really is a non-issue as far as diet is concerned.

    There's actually some research that shows particular amino acids are more dominant and preferentially absorbed over others, which could mean that the ratio of amino acids in plants is much more suitable for assimilation in our bodies, as it doesn't contain high levels of all the dominant amino acids. It's common sense really. Plants are our natural food source and hence meet our needs the best.

    The question should be - which source of protein provides a better RATIO (not quantity) of amino acids? For some reason people always assume more is better, which is pure broscience.

    • Just to be clear, all plant sources aren't complete proteins, but they do have all essential amino acids. Complete means they also have the non-essential amino acids, meaning the ones your body does create itself, which only some do.

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