3rd October, 2023.
On an ordinary day, the European Parliament made an extraordinary move.
They adopted a report titled the “European Protein Strategy”.
- What is the report all about? — The EU’s heavy reliance on imported soy and other crops.
- What does the report say? — The EU should be self-reliant. it should produce its own plant protein, for both human and animal consumption.
Nothing extraordinary yet. Still, this report stands tall among its peers. Why?
It sees the bigger picture, recognizing something many might miss: the incredible promise of hemp protein.
The report doesn’t just mention it in passing.
- It advocates for hemp’s recognition as a “sustainable protein crop.”
- It underscores the need for uniform hemp regulations across the EU.
Now, I’ve come across many such technical reports in my time as the CEO of Hemp Foundation.
Such documents, intricate and laden with jargon, often remain shrouded until they shape our laws and lives.
But today, we pull back the curtain.
We spotlight hemp’s potential as a protein powerhouse, a treasure for health and a catalyst for economic growth.
Not just for Europe, but for the world.
I can imagine the questions bubbling up in your mind.
- Why is protein such a big deal?
- Where are we currently getting our protein, and are there hitches with these sources?
- Is hemp protein the game-changer we’ve been waiting for?
- How do we get protein out of hemp, and how can we make it a part of our meals?
- Is it as beneficial as it sounds, and could it outshine our existing protein sources?
- And, of course, what’s the catch?
- What would it mean for our wallets and our way of life if we made the switch to hemp protein?
I’ll do my best to address all your queries.
Let’s Talk Protein
Think of protein as the building blocks of our body. They help our muscles grow, repair our bones, and even give us energy. Some proteins come from the food we eat, while our body makes others.
So, in a way, protein is what we’re made of.
To think about proteins is to think about ourselves.
Can anything be more important?
I must clarify here: this post isn’t about your diet. It’s not about what you or I need to do today. It’s not about proteins. It’s about something bigger; it’s about where we get our proteins from.
It’s about what every minister, every agro-entrepreneur, and every farmer needs to do, or at least think seriously about, today.
Is there anything wrong with our protein sources?
From where do we get our protein?
Protein is found in a variety of foods. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Meat: This includes beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. They’re packed with protein.
- Fish: Tuna, salmon, and cod are just a few examples.
- Eggs: Both the white and the yolk have protein, but the white has more.
- Dairy: Think milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are all great choices.
You see, most of the world’s dietary protein comes from animals.
Here’s why that’s a problem.
Hurts our planet
Have you ever thought about what goes into raising animals for our meals?
It’s not just about their food.
Consider the land they roam on, the water they drink, and the gases they release into the air.
Here’s a startling fact: the gases from livestock farming contribute more to global warming than all our cars, planes, and trains put together. That’s a lot! And there’s more.
This type of farming uses a ton of water and clears out large areas of land, which harms our forests and the creatures living in them.
Remember the EU report? It pointed out concerns like these, emphasizing the need for sustainable protein sources.
Hurts our health
Animal proteins come with their own set of health concerns.
For instance, some of us can’t handle the lactose in dairy.
Others might find they’re allergic to certain meats.
And let’s not forget about cholesterol.
Eating too much red and processed meat can lead to heart problems.
Hurts our pocket
Here’s something else to ponder: many European countries import a lot of our protein.
But this isn’t only Europe’s problem.
For any nation, dependence on other countries can be a bit shaky, especially when global prices fluctuate or trade rules change.
And transporting food from far-off places? That adds to our environmental concerns.
We’re missing out on the benefits of locally sourced, sustainable proteins.
So, what’s the solution?
Animal proteins have been a big part of many diets for a long time.
But with the environmental, health, and economic issues they bring, it’s time for a change.
The EU report suggests the same.
We need to look at other options, and plant-based proteins, especially hemp, could be the sustainable answer we’re searching for.
Introducing Hemp Protein
Hemp is a versatile plant, and one of its products is hemp protein.
From Hemp Crop to Protein Powder
The journey from hemp to protein is a straightforward one. Hemp seeds, which are the edible part of the hemp plant, are cold-pressed to extract their oil. The remaining seed cake is then ground into a fine powder. This powder is what we commonly refer to as hemp protein.
So, what exactly is hemp protein? It’s a high-quality vegan protein that boasts all nine essential amino acids. These amino acids are crucial for our body as they are the building blocks of protein. Moreover, hemp protein is also rich in fiber, healthy fats, and essential minerals.
Nutritional Profile of Hemp Protein
|Protein Content||Approximately 40-50%|
|Comparison with Other Proteins||Similar to yellow field pea, but lower than soybean|
|Amino Acid Deficiencies||Low in lysine and tryptophan|
|PDCAAS (Protein Quality Score)||0.66 (mainly due to lysine deficiency)|
|Essential Amino Acid Profile||Meets UN’s FAO recommendations for infants and children|
|Protease Inhibitor||Absent (improving its nutritional value compared to beans)|
When we look at the nutritional profile of hemp protein, it’s impressive.
Not only is it a complete protein source, but it’s also easily digestible.
This means our bodies can efficiently use the amino acids present in hemp protein for various vital functions.
Additionally, hemp protein is a good source of antioxidants and minerals, especially magnesium and iron, which are beneficial for our health.
- However, it’s worth noting that hemp protein is slightly deficient in certain amino acids, namely lysine and tryptophan.
- Despite this, hemp still meets the essential amino acid recommendations set by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization for infants and children.
- Another advantage of hemp protein is the absence of protease inhibitors, which are found in beans and can interfere with protein digestion. This absence further elevates hemp’s nutritional value.
Now, a question that might be on your mind: Is hemp protein related to the marijuana plant?
And more importantly, will it make you high? The answer is no.
While hemp is indeed a member of the cannabis plant family, it contains negligible amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
Can you switch to hemp protein? Answers to difficult questions
How Does Hemp Protein Taste?
Hemp protein, like many natural products, has a distinctly earthy and nutty flavor. It might be different from the usual protein powders you’ve tried, but many find it pleasantly unique.
Incorporating Hemp Protein in Daily Meals
So, how do you add hemp protein to your daily meals? It’s simpler than you might think.
You can sprinkle hemp protein powder on your salads, blend it into smoothies, or even use it as a flour substitute in baking.
The versatility of hemp protein allows it to seamlessly fit into various recipes.
Available Forms of Hemp Protein
Curious about the forms in which you can get hemp protein?
Each form has its own advantages, depending on your preference and how you plan to use it.
Is Hemp Protein Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans?
Absolutely! Hemp protein is plant-based, making it a perfect fit for both vegetarians and vegans. It’s a great way to ensure you’re getting enough protein without relying on animal sources.
Any Side Effects or Allergies to Know About?
Like with any food, it’s essential to listen to your body. While hemp protein is generally safe and well-tolerated, some might experience digestive discomfort. Always start with a small amount and see how your body reacts.
Where Can You Buy Hemp Protein and Is It Affordable?
You can find hemp protein in health food stores, online marketplaces, and even some local grocery stores.
As for affordability, prices can vary based on brand and quality. However, considering its nutritional value and the benefits it offers, many find it a worthy investment.
Switching to hemp protein might seem like a leap, but when you weigh the benefits, it’s a step in the right direction.
Not only is it nutritionally rich, but it also aligns with sustainable and ethical consumption.
So, the next time you’re looking for a protein source, why not give hemp a try? After all, change begins with a single step.
The big picture: Why the EU wants more plant-proteins
Finding the right protein source is like solving a complex puzzle.
We’re not just looking for something to fill our plates.
We’re searching for a solution that nurtures our bodies, respects our planet, and doesn’t strain our economies.
So, when we ask, “chicken or hemp protein?” we’re missing the broader perspective. It’s not just about taste or tradition. It’s about finding a source that checks every essential box: safety, sustainability, affordability, and health benefits.
Unlike many other protein sources, hemp doesn’t ask us to compromise.
It doesn’t force us to choose between our health and the planet’s well-being. It offers a balanced solution.
Not chicken, not egg, and surprisingly, not even the much-touted soy can match hemp’s holistic benefits.
This isn’t just a personal observation.
The European Union, in its recent report, has given hemp a special nod.
Why? Because hemp aligns perfectly with their vision of a sustainable, health-conscious future.
So, as you stand at the crossroads of dietary choices, think about the bigger picture.
It’s not just about today’s meal; it’s about tomorrow’s world.
I urge you to make an informed decision. Dive deep, understand the implications, and when you’re ready, perhaps give hemp protein a chance.
It’s not just a choice for you; it’s a choice for a better world.