I promised to make some meatier posts in the not-too-distant future, so here's the meat:
Protein is overrated.
Yep. So probably save your $50 on that three gallon jug of vanilla whey complex powder and read on...
First we should revisit the question: What is protein? We often take the versatility of this macronutrient for granted. 'Protein is overrated' was a statement designed to attract your attention, but it underscores the true appreciation that these amino acid chain complexes deserve.
Protein is what makes muscles contract.
Protein is what contains a virus particle.
Protein is what digests your food.
Protein is what detoxifies drugs.
Protein is what makes fireflies glow.
Protein is what makes cells divide.
Protein is the foam on top of your beer.
Protein is your skin, hair, and nails.
Protein is the red in blood.
... Among countless other things.
Your body is very good at recycling protein, so you don't really need to eat that much. In fact, if you are over the age of 25, less than moderately active, and were not recently injured, you probably don't need ANY MORE in one day than you can get from a slice of bread and a dinner salad. Seriously. That will be enough to grow out your hair and fingernails a little.
That being said, of course, if you are an athlete or WERE recently injured, then go ahead and eat some meat, because in both cases you have some tissue that needs to be repaired, and that does require protein.
That being said, of course, there are also plenty of healthy sources of protein that are not dead animals. Like legumes, for instance. Or eggs.
Eggs are often said to be the perfect source of nutrition and, yes, they are really great. They contain chicken embryos, thus you should also expect them to contain all the nutrition that a baby chicken would need to develop and eventually peck itself out of the shell. Ideally your eggs should come from chickens that lead happy and healthy lives. Even as a college student (and a cheap Jew), I mostly always opted to buy cage-free eggs over the 88-cent factory-farmed dozens. I can't bring myself to support that and I'd advise you to not support that either. If you eat so many eggs that it would hurt you financially to make the slightly more ethical decision, then perhaps you shouldn't eat so many eggs.
Like eggs, dairy is theoretically very healthy. However, like a lot of our food nowadays, including the cheap eggs, it is subject to the 'Monsanto effect', i.e., the use of unnatural chemicals and practices that make it more convenient to produce on a massive scale.
Remember, mammals like humans and cows only make milk while they are nursing. Milk is a very nutrient-dense liquid that is extremely efficient at delivering complete nutrition to babies.
Anyway, the Monsanto effect leads to unhealthy animal factories and thus unhealthy humans who consume animals from said factories and their food products. That's in addition to the fact that factory farming is both cruel and unsustainable.
I'm not trying to convince anyone to go vegan here (that can also be unhealthy and unnatural), but honestly I don't understand why there are so many humans that passionately rail against the thought even of just eating LESS meat and animal products.
Paul McCartney does Meatless Monday. You can do it too.
You don't need that much protein.
I am a biochemistry major, chemistry 'master', Qigong student, and have been a nutrition enthusiast since I was in high school. While I do not cite any specific papers herein, please trust that I am qualified to make these assertions.
Thanks for that trust.