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Where do you get your protein?

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

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 time. The protein deficiency has happened because the person simply did not have enough food to eat.

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 dehumanising 8 hours shifts in the slaughterhouse for us.

The effects of going vegan include extra strength and stamina, increased libido and superior sporting achievement (see The Game Changers), it is 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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Michaela Spiegel
Michaela Spiegel
May 08, 2022

hello again,

reading this article I asked myself how many male and how many female followers you have.

like "extra strength, sexual potency and sporting achievement " sound good to me, but I guess female vegan bodies might need to be convicted or reassured about their vegan life style when it comes to being pregnant or breast feeding in a more specific way. is there any further literature about the vegan female body, going through life? extra strength during menopause, for example?

i would love to have some vegan advise or even recepies on that.

all the feminist best


Ben Green
Ben Green
May 08, 2022
Replying to

I am sure there is available literature on all those things. This isn't a general post on the health benefits of a vegan diet, this is a post to highlight the silliness of the question "where do you get your protein?". I've not pushed this post on any of my social channels, because doesn't in any way further the narrative of "the barracks". It's on my blog because it's the only place I really have to publish, but it's meant as a resource to be shared by other vegans when they get asked this. Which we get asked a lot, and, on the whole, by a pretty specific demographic.

Hopefully I have managed to address the answer to that demographic…

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