One of the favorite arguments of meat eaters is that proteins from the plant kingdom are “incomplete,” because no one plant food contains all of the twenty-three identifiable amino acids (although the carrot, with twenty-two amino acids, comes quite close). Studies of man’s physiology, and the effects of his consumption of foods from the plant kingdom, have shown conclusively that it is not necessary to consume all of the amino acids at one sitting, not even the eight (some references say ten) “essential” amino acids that are not fabricated within the body.
The foods we eat are processed by the body, and the amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients are reserved in a pool for later use as needed. When we eat, we replenish the reserves in this pool, to be drawn upon by the cell as required. We do not live upon one protein food, but upon the protein content of our varied diet, which supplies all of the protein needs of the body.
Not only are humans not dependent on the animal kingdom for their nutrition—it is also not necessary to play a numbers game with nutrients or foods at each meal.
Fruits and vegetables, though containing relatively smaller amounts of protein in their natural state, are excellent sources of supplementary amino acids for complete and optimal nutrition.
The protein in raw nuts and seeds, and in uncooked fruits and vegetables, are readily available to the body, and are therefore said to be of high biological value. During the process of digestion, the long chains of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are gradually broken up for the body’s use in synthesizing its own protein (as any species must do).