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Where do you get your protein?

Many people, on discovering a vegan is vegan exhibit a touching concern for our health.

"Where do you get your protein?" is frequently the first question we hear.

This short blog post would like to give the definitive answer.

The protein deficiency ward at your local hospital

At school, you learned of the early mariners who all got ill on long ocean-crossing adventures due to a lack of Vitamin-C in their diets. The Royal Navy issued a ration of daily lemon juice, all was well and the disease of Vitamin-C deficiency became a curio to be taught in schools. Scurvy is now nothing more than the answer to a pub quiz question.

Similarly, we all know the name of Vitamin-D deficiency - Rickets. Although this is more common in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, it's almost unheard of in the affluent west - although the benefits of Vitamin D are so huge, all y'all should be supplementing it anyway, especially in winter.

There is a disease of Vitamin B1 which in its most advanced form is called Beriberi. Most people have heard of that. It's caused by having an unbelievable poor diet (ie, nothing but rice) or being a terrible alcoholic, but that tends to cause all the nutrient deficiencies going.

Malnutrition, surprisingly perhaps, is also the name of a specific food deficiency, and that is one of insufficient calories.

Patrik Baboumian - the strongest animals are plant eaters. Gorillas, buffalos, elephants and me.

The point is, you have heard of all the named nutritional deficiencies because they make the news, or they have some sort of historical interest, or maybe there is a personal connection.

You have not heard of either kwashiorkor or marasmus.

Marasmus is a form of malnutrition (insufficient calories) and protein deficiency at the same.

Kwashiorkor is the name of the disease where the sufferer has obtained enough calories, but insufficient protein.

You've not heard of either of them because they do not exist in the West. Not to you, not to your partner or or family, and not to vegans. Nor, indeed, do they occur in any place which is not currently suffering the ravages of famine.

We get our protein the same place as the biggest land mammals. From plants. We get them from the same place as the animals who wander the savannah grazing, and we get them from the same place as you get yours. Except we eat them directly, we don't filter them (and poison them) through living, sentient animals who we then pay people to kill in 8 hours shifts for us.

The effects of going vegan include extra strength, sexual potency and sporting achievement (see The Game Changers), the greatest contribution you can personally make to against climate change (Cowspiracy), a morality which puts humans inside a system of life, not above it (Earthlings) and a new appreciation for Finding Nemo, Babe and My Octopus Teacher.

What it does not give you is kwashiorkor.

But we thank you for your concern.

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