Nutrition Expert Challenges BBC on Sources of Protein in Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

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A London nutrition expert has challenged the BBC on their choices of vegetarian and vegan proteins that left elite athlete Colin Jackson with what he believed was reduced power and strength.

London based nutrition expert Yvonne Bishop-Weston reveals the plant based vegetarian protein rich foods and confirms that a vegetarian diet is suitable even for elite athletes.

On BBC 2's The Truth About Food, champion athlete Colin Jackson was put on a vegetarian diet for 8 weeks. He complained that he lost power and could manage 5 less press ups without the meat. Like many men Jackson seems to believe he needs meat to maintain masculinity.

This is of course complete twaddle. Research shows that better levels of fertility, heart health, endurance and strength can be achieved on vegetarian and vegan diets and you can avoid the saturated fat that comes free with meat and animal products.

Much fuss is made about protein and the amino acids contained in animal foods.

Yvonne says "It's actually quite hard not to get enough protein to attain the generally accepted average level of health -- even potatoes and oats have protein in them. However if you want to prove that a vegetarian or vegan diet is nutritionally superior to a meat based diet and attain optimum health then you might like to do a little more than eat porridge and mash. There are many subtle problems caused by amino acid imbalances that can thwart optimum health.

Vegetarian and vegan diets can provide everything you need unless you have some rare disease or condition that stops your body from processing protein into all the amino acids your body needs to thrive.

There are some excellent sources of plant based protein for when you are building muscle and may need a little more protein than normal or if you are trying to lose weight and want to curb your appetite and teach yourself to eat less sugar rich carbohydrates.

Hemp protein powder ( is over 48% protein and makes a delicious creamy addition to soy/rice/nut milks or fruit juice / smoothies to increase amino acid intake without increasing saturated fat.

Hempseeds (with shells removed) are over 30% protein and can be used like sesame seeds and sprinkled on all foods sweet or savoury. Great mixed together with a little melted sugar free dark chocolate, dried blueberries and oats to make a high protein delicious snack ball.

Redwoods ( ) meat free mince and chicken style pieces at over 24% protein have more protein that all the protein sources used in the BBC 2 programme to feed Colin Jackson or even the meat they used to feed the vegetarians. Unlike meat it doesn't come laden with saturated fat. Redwoods products are freely available in health food stores and some supermarkets.

Quinoa, and other South American pseudo grains can have a protein content of between 16- 20% (depending on variety). Quinoa's protein is high in lysine, methionine and cystine. This makes it an excellent food to combine with, and boost the protein value of, other grains (which are low in lysine), or soy (which is low in methionine and cystine). It is a perfect alternative to use in place of cous cous or rice.

Buckwheat, another pseudo grain, is also a useful source of protein to add variety and makes a good high fibre pasta that in my opinion is nicer than wholewheat pasta. Buckwheat pasta is a lot more nutritious the white pasta that is so often used as a staple part of vegetarian and vegan diets.

Members of Vegan Body Builders such as Kenneth Williams, ex champion vegan weightlifter now sports nutritionist Gareth Zeal, UK champion savate kickboxer James Southwood, vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier and a host of other vegan athletes prove that a plant based diet can provide both power and strength to competition standards.


The BBC identifies their sources of protein (per 100g) in their study as;

Realeat mince = 18g

Beef = 22g

Quorn mince = 14.5g

Chicken = 24g

Tofu = 12g

Turkey = 24g

Pork = 20g

TVP = 25g

Lamb = 19g

Cod = 18g

Tuna = 23g

Hempseeds are over 30g and rich in omega 3, Redwoods Mince is 25g and includes vitamin B12 and essential fats, Hemp protein powder is up to 48g of protein per 100g

Contacts :

Yvonne Bishop-Weston - Foods for Life

Tel: 08712884642 Fax 08712884643 PA Mob 07944068432

Yaoh -

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