Plant-based diets are increasingly becoming “the choice” for those who want to live long and enjoy quality of life. Customers shopping our GreenAcres Markets are searching for sustainable, good tasting foods that are not highly processed, definitely not GMO, work easily into delicious meals and are affordable.
Quality protein foods are essential for a healthy, balanced diet. But diets based mostly on animal-based protein may becoming a thing of the past. For one thing, our planet is feeding 7.5 billion people and that’s a worry to earth scientists. Some scientists think the earth has a maximum carrying capacity of 9 or 10 billion people, so they anticipate that food sources might be finite.
The eminent Harvard University sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson pondered in his book “The Future of Life,” about the limited availability of freshwater, the amount of food the earth can produce, and even in a case of maximum efficiency in which all the grains grown were dedicated to feeding humans instead of livestock, he wondered, would there ultimately be a limit to how far available quantities could stretch?
Wilson wrote: “If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support only 10 billion people.”
Of course, this is a scientist thinking in the future, but we already see a pattern developing among people making health and life decisions so as to be prepared for when the future meets today.
According to the Meat Atlas of the Friends of the Earth and the Heinrich Boll Foundation, there are an estimated 375-500 million vegetarians in the world and growing. Just look at the vegan and vegetarian restaurants that are burgeoning throughout the U.S. alone.
We see this in our health food market business. Plant-based diets have become increasingly popular. In our stores that have delis, we supply our customers with a large variety of whole-grain side dishes, sustainable fish and either grass-fed beef or free-range chicken entrees daily with four other hot case vegetables. Our all-organic salad bars are the first things people come to visit as they grab lunch on the way to the office.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a doctor of natural medicine, chiropractor, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using nutrition, natural remedies (including essential oils), healthy recipes and fitness has built an empire on quality whey-based protein food products. We carry his Bulletproof Coffee and MCT Oil, as well as his Bone Broth Collagen Powder.
Dr. Axe writes: “Protein is the building block of life, made up of amino acids that our bodies use in virtually every internal process we have. Because the genetic makeup of animals is more similar to ours than plants, animals provide protein that is most easily digested by the human body. When you eat fish, eggs, raw dairy or any meat product, you’re eating protein that your body totally knows how to process.”
Dr. Axe isn’t quite so keen on plant protien as he is on whey: “Plant-based protein,” he says, “is a little less digestible for the human body. Sources of protein from plants also rarely contain a ‘complete’ amino acid profile, and while there are some complete protein foods, one must adjust for what might be missing.
“Not every diet works for every person, so paying attention to your own individual biofeedback to determine what’s best for your body is an important part of living a healthy life. For example, I’ve tried many healthy diet combinations to see how my body responds, and when looking at both Paleo and Vegan diets, I personally found that I don’t do well on a plant-only diet.
“Instead, I eat plenty of organic vegetables, fruits, healthy fats/oils, lean meats, fish, a limited amount of grass-fed red meat and some raw, full-fat dairy.”
Still, there’s plenty of nutrition in plant-based protein say those who recommend it. Many cardiologists agree, as do we at GreenAcres. Diets based heavily on vegetables are proven to substantially lower coronary artery disease, retard aging and help immensely with weight balance.
In the most recent edition of Whole Foods Magazine, there is a prediction by (soon-to-step-down Alphabet Executive Chairman) Eric Schmidt that by 2050, 95% of all protein will come from plants.
The magazine article goes on to define two kinds of plant protein: whole food and concentrated food. Plant foods with the highest natural concentration of protein include:
- Dark Green Vegetables
Concentrated foods include wheat crops, both bran and flour.
Whey protein was discovered hundreds of years ago, but became popular in the ‘60s through the ’90s. (People love cheese.) Reports Whole Foods Magazine, “Aside from soy, food scientists didn’t pay enough attention to plant proteins until after the year 2000. Farmers and food scientists are working hard to catch up as plant protein demand grows exponentially faster.”
We devote our blog today to plant protein because we see it exploding in our industry. As our market team gets ready for the next food Expo in March, all things plant-based will be on their radar, and soon in our stores.