When I told my nutritionist I was “Vegan. 100% Vegetarian”, one of the first questions was, “Are you getting enough protein?” Certainly a reasonable question. And I think I am.

Everyone else asks that same question as if the entire world is on auto-pilot. The meat, dairy and fish industry certainly have taken a large piece of our minds for everyone to be in automaton mode when it comes to protein. And, in the minds of many, “protein” = “meat” or “fish” or “milk” or “cheese”, but not vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains.

At the time I did this calculation for myself, I weighed a huge 84 kilograms, (185 pounds). Based on the formula used by my nutritionist, calculated on the computer, that should give me a target of  “…80 grams of protein daily.”

When I arrived home I had to calculate for myself what that meant in terms of proportions. I picked meat, and beef in particular and assumed for easy calculation that I would use that for my calculation.  So what I calculated I did so out of curiosity and will share that with you.

Let’s see what I have to eat to get 80 grams of protein strictly from beef. Each 3 ounces is worth about 300 calories, and delivers about 19 grams of protein, or stated on a per ounce basis:  1 ounce of beef is approx. 100 calories and approx.  6.3 grams of protein. If I targeted 80 grams of protein daily, I should consume the equivalent of about (80/19) = 13 ounces of beef daily. That made me holler to myself, “Holy heart attacks, Batman!” But heart attacks is not the only concern from taking in excessive quantities of protein.

Dr. T Collin Campbell presents studies showing that animals that consumed 20% of their calories from proteins had a very high incidence of cancers. So, I wondered, “Yikes, Superman!  What’s the good of saving my heart if I die early from cancer?!”

What would that 20% be for an adult consuming 2,000 calories per day?

For a guy like me, that 20% would represent approx. 700 calories from proteins daily. And that works out to approximately a steak the size of almost 7 ounces.

But Dr. Campbell  demonstrated that, at that rate, cancers run rampant. So he suggests we pay attention to a much lower level of protein consumption. He established that, at the threshold of  5% or lower, some cancers can be prevented, contained, or even rolled back,  if the cancer is influenced by protein levels and if it is in its earlier stage.

Based on my desire to avoid contracting or accelerating any cancer that I may already have but don’t yet know about, I thought it wise for me to aim for that 5% as my daily limit for protein consumption. So let’s use 5% to see how much delicious, sizzling, delectable beef steak I ought to consume each day if I want to stay at 5% or less of my caloric consumption from beef.

5% x 2,000 calories = 100 calories. If I get that 100 calories strictly from meat, I’d eat ONE OUNCE OF MEAT daily. A delicious or BBQ’d cube of meat about the size of my thumbnail. For me, as big as my mouth is, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to eat only 1 ounce of meat daily.

So, I’d have to turn to high-fiber foods, lots of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits to fill me up. And that is definitely a good thing…for me. It just might save my life in future years either from heart attacks or from cancer or from both.

If you wish to learn more about Dr. Campbell’s findings there are many references to it, or you can start by reading the information at OneGreenPlanet.org, or by clicking this link to get there: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/t-colin-campbell-protein-and-cancer/

I am not a doctor. Before you make any changes to YOUR lifestyle, health programs, medications, therapies or attempt to diagnose any illness or disease, be sure to consult with and follow the advice of your own qualified and certified doctor.