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Marcella Torres's Article on This Site


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Under #2 it says,

"I see about twenty to thirty new patients per week, and I always ask them, “Which has more protein – one hundred calories of steak or one hundred calories of broccoli?” When I tell them it’s broccoli the most frequent response is “I didn’t know broccoli had protein in it.”


If you look at the nutritional facts of Broccoli and Steak, steak has considerably more protein per calorie. Not broccoli.

Steak: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3820/2

Broccoli: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2


He goes on to mock his patient's by saying, "I then ask them, “So where did you think the calories in broccoli come from? Did you think it was mostly fat, like an avocado, or mostly carbohydrate, like a potato?”


Even though he's ramming "vegetables are high protein foods" into their heads he's being very misleading because over half of broccoli's calories are from carbohydrate not protein. The protein content of broccoli appears to be roughly 2/5 of the calories.


Why post stuff that is wrong? It discredits the website and makes me skeptical of anything else I read from this author at the least and at the most on this website. Yes, I'm vegan and yeah, regardless of what you guys say or don't say I have my own convictions that have lead me to become a vegan. This is just troubling because we don't have to overstate things and lie about things to get our health message across. If overstating and lying is what's required to get the message across, then the message clearly is not the right one.



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The thing is that each living cell is made of protein. Therefore almost every food is a source of protein. Unless it's just an ingredient extracted from another food, like oil for example. If you eat the whole sunflower seed, you get protein, carbs and oil. Most plant sources have globular protein which is easy to digest while meat has fibrous protein which is harder to digest. That is why 'meat replacements' are not a good idea - after the processing, the soy/wheat globular protein in them denatures and assumes a fibrous structure which is hard to digest. Apart from that, the percentage of protein in the food depends on the amount of water contained in it as well. Since vegetables and fruits mostly contain water, they have a very low percentage per 100 grams because most of these 100 grams are water. The girl says that broccoli has more protein in a calorie which may be right because you eat a very large amount of broccoli to get a few calories. But it still puts less load on your digestion than a small steak. For example if you eat a whole bread (something I've done many times), you eat 700 grams (for the average bread in Bulgaria) , 8 grams of protein in each 100 grams, that makes 7 x 8 = 56 grams of protein in a bread. If you eat 200 grams of meat, you roughly get 40 grams of protein -> less protein total (considerably less if you eat pork or beef). Still, raw food is easier to digest than bread and doesn't make you heavy.

So the percentage of protein really doesn't matter. If it did, we'd only eat protein powders.

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Duncan, I see your point. But I think Marcella has a mistake in her math there, if we're relying on the nutrition analysis at nutritiondata.com


According to the stats on nutriondata.com, calorie for calorie, beef does have more protein than broccoli.


Here's the math:

Beef: 23g per 174 calories

Broccoli: 3g per 31 calories


so to hold the comparison constant per calorie, we find out how many g of protein broccoli has per 174 calories


31 goes into 174 5.61 times ::: 5.61*31= 173.91

so then we multiply the g of protein in the broccoli sample by 5.61



23g per 174 calories is greater than 16.83g per 174 calories

therefore the beef sample has more protein than the broccoli sample with the ~174 calories


I'll spare you the math steps, but if you do the comparison with the same nutrition data over 100 calories of beef and broccoli, the result is:

13.22 g for beef

9.67 g for broccoli


holding calories constant more or less accounts for the variation in water in both foods.


You get a similar picture if you just look at the caloric ratio graphs in nutriondata.com



So, yes, it's just a mistake in math, or maybe she did her analysis on different samples.


Please correct me if my math is wrong, which is entirely possible, I did this pretty fast.


I do think it's important for us to remain faithful to accuracy if we are going to use science and numbers to make our point. Otherwise we risk damaging our credibility.


edit: i didn't see at first that the passage in question is Marcella quoting Fuhrman

Edited by vivalasvegans
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That occurred to me too. Still, to me, the overall point is a good one. If I was trying to explain the concept of protein in plant foods, I personally would not choose to explain it to meateaters like that because it is misleading. The chart I posted from that now broken link lists the protein per calorie of foods. There is not more protein per calorie in celery than fish, in green peppers than turkey, in dandelion greens than chicken. Along with that, it's true, broccoli does have a high % of carbs. And even though the steak in nutriondata.com is lean, 44% of its calories come from fat...


I wouldn't mock my patients like that. I definitely would not do it with specious arguments like that either. I think it does more harm than good to any info that's subsequently presented.

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Being a vegan I obviously agree that eating broccoli is much better for someone that eating stake. But being better for and being higher protein are 2 different things. Also stating that broccoli is mainly protein is a lie. I agree with what the persons purpose is, but not with how they're going about it. It discredits and invalidates us like Vivalasvegas says.


If our message (veganism) is true, healthy, and superior, we shouldn't have to mislead, misrepresent, or outright lie about ANYTHING to help someone.


Now lets all eat some broccoli!

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no one should ever worry about not enough protein and too much (good) carbs in their diet. Every normal diet (vegan or not), that is not junk food has plenty of protein in it. And we need as much carbs as it is possible to eat!:)))) I am on a high carb, low fat and pretty low protein diet and I gain muscle. No one will ever make me think about not getting enough protein again. I am don with the thinking: Am I getting enough protein?!, etc... The only thing one should worry is not to eat too much fats - and you can never go wrong if you totally exclude them from the diet.

My point is - vegans should not talk about protein in food at all. The whole protein myth comes from meat and dairy industry and we should fight it, not support it.

And yes, broccoli may have less protein than meat, but we dont need that much protein anyways.

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ffactory - My advice is to contact Marcella personally. She is friendly, and you can present what you've said here to her. If she agrees we can change the article. I don't believe she intended to "lie" or "mislead" anybody. If she is wrong, it is a mistake on her part, and it would be good to give her the correct information.


You can leave a message for her on her website:




I personally read everything that goes up on this site - but I am not an expert on these subjects and I don't research anything. There are other things on vbb.com that even I don't agree with, but I guess they are the views of those who wrote the articles. But, if there is a way to prove something to be incorrect, I'm happy for it to be updated, I don't want there to be anything untrue on the site.

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