That’s a quotation by Doug Larson, in chapter five of Green For Life. I totally agree.  Bacon smell is unbeatable.

I’ve read a lot during this month of eating vegan about how we can get all the protein we need from leafy green vegetables.  But I never completely understood it, because I’ve grown up (as most of us North Americans have) believing that we need to eat meat and cheese to get enough protein.  Boutenko outlines the difference between complex proteins found in meat, dairy, fish, etc. and individual amino acids, found in fruits, vegetables, and especially in greens.

*note: Every protein molecule consists of a chain of amino acids.  An essential amino acid is one that cannot be synthesized by the body, and therefore must be supplied as part of the diet.  Humans must include adequate amounts of 9 amino acids in their diet.

Boutenko explains this difference in a way that I understand and went aha! now I get it.  I’m not sure if it’s because my sister’s getting married and looking at wedding dresses – or just the fact that I’m a girl so clothing analogies work for me – but here is what she writes:

It is clear that the body has to work a lot less when creating protein from the assortment of individual amino acids from greens, rather than the already combined, long molecules of protein, assembled according to the foreign pattern of a totally different creature such as a cow or a chicken.  I would like to explain the difference between complex proteins and individual amino acids with a simple anecdote.

Imagine that you have to make a wedding dress for your daughter.  Consuming the complex proteins that we get from cows or other creatures is like going to the second hand store, and buying many other people’s used dresses, coming home and spending several hours ripping apart pieces of the dresses that you like and combining them into a new dress for your daughter.  This alternative will take a lot of time and energy and will leave a great deal of garbage.  You could never make a perfect dress this way.

Consuming individual amino acids is like taking your daughter to a fabric store to buy beautiful new fabric, lace, buttons, threads, and pearls.  With these essential elements you can make a beautiful dress that fits her unique body perfectly.  Similarly, when you eat greens, you “purchase” new amino acids, freshly made by sunshine and chlorophyll, which the body will use to rebuild its parts according to your own unique DNA.

Contrary to this, your body would have a hard time trying to make a perfect molecule of protein out of someone else’s molecules, which consists of totally different combinations of amino acids.  Plus, your body would most likely receive a lot of unnecessary pieces that are hard to digest.  These pieces would be floating around in your blood like garbage for a long time, causing allergies and other health problems.  Professor W.A. Walker from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, states that, “Incompletely digested protein fragments may be absorbed into the bloodstream.  The absorption of these large molecules contributes to the development of food allergies and immunological disorders.”

……..she goes on to say lots of interesting things I don’t have time to write……..

In summary, greens provide protein in the form of individual amino acids.  These amino acids are easier for the body to utilize than complex proteins.  A variety of greens can supply all the protein we need to sustain each of our unique bodies.

Interesting.  Thinking of it the way she describes it, I would way rather eat greens and have my body build its own own protein instead of trying to digest the protein some cow put together from the grass (or more likely corn) it ate and eventually have parts of this dead carcass float around in my blood.  Kind of gross when it’s put like that.

Today is day 25 not eating meat and I don’t miss it at all.  The thought of putting a piece of chicken into my body just isn’t appealing anymore now that I actually think about where that chicken came from and how it will make my body feel.

I did cheat with dairy the other day (cheesy pesto pasta which yada yada yada led to half a loaf of sourdough and a full container of spinach feta artichoke dip) and it made me feel like shit.  After not consuming dairy for almost a month my body was like what the eff are you trying to do to me?!  I’ve felt out of whack the last couple days since the cheat and have been eating tons of fruit and veg, trying to get back to normal.  Grosses me out that I was eating so much dairy and meat before that this gross feeling wasn’t even there because I guess I felt like that all the time?

Anyways this was a long post, whoever made it all the way to the end (well done, you!)  Five more days to go vegan-styles.