How to Become Healthier by Ditching Animal Protein: Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis

Today I’m excited to bring to your attention a recently published book by Dr. Garth Davis, MD, called Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It.

If you’ve been following Vegan Runner Eats for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a big fan of the health aspect of the vegan diet.

I especially love it when the facts are presented by highly versed scientists and medical professionals who have devoted their career to studying the connection between plant-based diets and our health.

A review of Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis - why eating too much animal protein is slowly killing us, and what to do about it

Dr. Davis has been one of my vegan health heroes for a while. An experienced bariatric surgeon from Houston, TX, he’s been a passionate advocate for a plant-based diet ever since he faced his own health scare in his mid-thirties.

After he discovered the benefits of centering his diet around plants, Dr. Davis kicked his health issues to the curb and stepped on the path of endurance racing, with multiple marathons and an Ironman triathlon under his belt today. Check out his popular Facebook page where he regularly shares insights on food and weight loss politics in a passionate and fun way.

So why did Dr. Davis decide to write a book that tells us to stop eating so much protein? Isn’t this the direct opposite of what we’ve been hearing from various health and weight loss experts?

Garth Davis got the idea from his own experience as a bariatric surgeon (that’s the doctor who cuts out a piece of a morbidly obese patient’s stomach so it holds less food, which typically leads to drastic weight loss).

Dr. Garth Davis, author of Proteinaholic

He noticed that a lot of his patients had a pattern of ‘healthy eating’ that included lots and lots of protein, especially from animal foods.

The patients told Dr. Davis that they’d tried various diets from Atkins to Zone to Paleo, etc., all to see some weight loss in the beginning, and then miserably fail and pack it all back on with a vengeance.

For a while, Dr. Davis didn’t pay a lot of attention to the correlation of high protein consumption and weight gain. He readily admits now that even though he and his colleagues had spent years and years studying human health and surgery, their schooling provided barely any information on nutrition.

Yeah, that’s how broken the education system is even for doctors! Dr. Davis went on to believe the idea that our bodies are faulty from the start – seemingly healthy at the beginning of our lives, then disintegrating as we get older – and that nothing could be done about it.

Eventually as he reached his mid-thirties, Dr. Davis realized that he was falling into the same trap as a lot of his patients, with high blood pressure, some extra weight, and barely any energy to go through the day, let alone exercise.

By then Dr. Davis and his wife were about to have their first child, so this gave him an additional kick to dig deeper if he wanted to be healthy again for his family.

He started doing his own research on nutrition, going through lots and lots of scientific studies to learn about the ways food affected our health. One of the focus points was the lifestyle of the healthiest and the longest-living people in the world (ever heard of the Blue Zones?).

One interesting pattern came up: populations that live the longest tend to eat the least meat. They also favor whole foods, and don’t shy away from starchy carbohydrates. As Dr. Davis describes in his book, the deeper he was digging, the more information he found on the benefits of the whole food, plant-based diet.

He also discovered that our actual need for protein was way lower than what we had been led to believe: as long as we got enough calories in, it was virtually impossible to not get enough protein every day.

In fact, he came to a conclusion that since we can process only a moderate amount of protein every day, the excess protein (especially from animal food sources) was slowly poisoning our bodies, making us prone to develop a variety of chronic diseases. In Proteinaholic, Dr. Davis discusses various ways of how this happens, so you don’t have to believe just my words here 🙂

So this is how Dr. Davis realized that he had to write a book to spread the message about the harmful effects of eating too much protein. It took him years of research, and eventually his book was born.

My Experience with Proteinaholic

I was so looking forward to reading this book that as soon as I received it in the mail, I dug right in. I was very impressed with how engaging the narration turned out to be despite the fact that it was covering such a serious scientific subject.

For a ‘science-y’ book, it definitely was a page-turner! I used to think that I was aware of pretty much every tidbit of info on why plant-based diets are good for us, but I kept finding more and more things I haven’t heard of before. I’ll be quite surprised if any meat-eaters would hold on to their dietary habits after reading this book!

Dr. Garth Davis and his writing partner Howard Jacobson, Ph. D., did an outstanding job putting this book together. Proteinaholic leaves no stone unturned when it comes to convincing us of the benefits of the plant-based diet.

Every health-related statement in this book is backed by references to various scientific studies, with some parts of the book featuring a study reference in every single paragraph. All in all, there are 699 study references listed – just imagine the mountain of information Dr. Davis had filtered through to write his book!

The biggest plus of this book is that it explains so many big and little questions that vegans/plant-based people hear every day.

From the most popular ‘Where do you get your protein?’ to ‘Isn’t eating soy going to make you grow boobs?’, Proteinaholic covers it all in a clear, precise manner.

So next time your low-carb or Paleo coworker starts giving you grief over your veggie burrito, you’ll know exactly how to respond instead of fighting the desire to fling the said burrito at them 🙂

The subject of protein and our obsession with it was approached from multiple directions. To prove that we don’t need huge amounts of protein to be healthy, Dr. Davis tells us:

– His own story of going from veggie-hating, meat-eating couch potato to a vegan marathon runner and Ironman triathlete (in more detail than what I wrote above);

The history of our obsession with protein, from its original discovery to the industry manipulations with recommended daily amounts and switching our attention from food groups (i.e. ‘eat less meat and more veggies’) to macronutrients (‘eat less carbs and more protein’);

– Why meat and protein-centric diets like Atkins are destined to fail, and why Paleo diet followers and Weston A. Price Foundation subscribers are missing an important point;

The best way to look at scientific studies so that to stay grounded when another sensational study on bacon and butter goes viral;

The exact ways high animal protein consumption affects our health and contributes to such diseases as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and cancer;

– The answer to ‘the big question’: how much protein do we actually need? Dr. Davis covers various population groups including infants, athletes, the bedridden and the elderly, and touches upon the unique group of fruitarian athletes who (surprise or no surprise?) still manage to get enough protein.

There’s also a chapter with tips for a successful transition to a plant-based diet for those who are just now beginning to consider a switch (remember, Dr. Davis is a weight loss surgeon, so he wrote Proteinaholic with his patients in mind), and a few easy recipes for simple and healthy meals.

Got a family member with less than stellar health and/or weight issues? Just slip them a copy of this book for Christmas, and see where it may take them!

The Part Where I Announce The Giveaway!

UPDATE: the giveaway is now over, but you’re still welcome to leave a comment on this post!

I am very excited that Dr. Davis and his publisher, HarperOne of Harper Collins Publishers, have allowed me to host a giveaway of a copy of Proteinaholic here on Vegan Runner Eats!

I’ve previously used Rafflecopter for my giveaways, but this time I decided to switch gears. With Rafflecopter, the randomly drawn winner oftentimes is not the person who needs the particular giveaway prize the most, but someone who tweeted about that prize a lot.

So to keep things more fair (and easier for you and me!), here’s what you need to do to be entered into the giveaway: just leave a comment after this post telling us why you’d like to win a copy of Proteinaholic! Make sure to leave your email (it won’t be displayed, but that’s how I’ll contact you if you win).

Terms and Conditions:

  • The giveaway will start today and end on Thursday, December 17th, 2015, at 11:59 pm PST.
  • The winner will be randomly drawn from all of the submitted entries, and emailed with further instructions the following day. I’ll also announce your name on social media.
  • Don’t feel like testing your chances? You can always buy Proteinaholic for yourself (and as a gift for your loved ones!) on Amazon or at any major book retailers!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, share it with your friends on social media! And stick around for more awesomeness – subscribe to Vegan Runner Eats to receive the latest posts (I’ll send you a free one-week vegan dinner meal plan as a thank you), or follow the blog on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Disclaimer 1: I was not paid or compensated to write this review and run the giveaway. I received one free copy of Proteinaholic for a review and personal use, and another copy to be mailed out as a giveaway prize. All opinions expressed are my own.

Disclaimer 2: This post contains affiliate links to If you make a purchase through affiliate links on my blog, I receive a very small commission that helps me run this blog, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

79 thoughts on “How to Become Healthier by Ditching Animal Protein: Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis”

  1. Excellent review! I recently made the switch to a plant based diet after watching What the Health, where this book was referenced. I am now so looking forward to getting this book in the mail. Thanks so much for the candid review.


    1. You can do it, Dawn! Dr. Davis’ book is quite helpful in explaining why you’re better off without meat and dairy. As for practical advice on recipes, etc., check out Forks Over Knives site and their cookbooks – lots of great info and recipes!

  3. Hi Alina, Two years ago I suffered from a life changing medical condition. Since then I have been on a journey to heal myself. My diet changed (over 2 years) from one of being omnivore to being herbivore. I get the question all the time about whether I get enough protein and if that is healthy for me. I would love to win and read this book by Dr. Davis and know that I am on the right path.

  4. Hi Alina, Two years ago I suffered from a life changing medical condition. Since then I have been on a journey to heal myself. My diet changed (over 2 years) from one of being omnivore to being herbivore. I get the question all the time about whether I get enough protein and if that is healthy for me. I would love to read this book by Dr. Davis and know that I am on the right path.

  5. I thought I was a vegetarian, but after really becoming aware of what I was actually eating(after reading Dr Davis’s book) I am not a true vegetarian – no wonder the weight is climbing! He has made me much more aware of what goes in my mouth. So vegananism here I come!

  6. I’ve been vegan for 2 years on and off. Wheather it was from different experimenttatio not or emaotional uncontrolled I have eaten meat since then and felt horrible. I know vegan diet is the best from how I feel as well raw vegan makes me feel even better but I just can’t seem to commit three meals a day.. Recently I joined a gym instead of working out at home and love it. However I let a extremely fit trainer plug into my head that I need protein even though I knew I didn’t so I bought vegan protein and took it back. I would love to read this book. Thanks so much for the great review!

    1. You can do this, Chris! A lot of people have slipups when they first go vegan – it’s important to stay positive and not make yourself feel horrible whenever this happens, you can just pick up where you left off at your next meal. Good luck!

  7. I would like a book to help me in my desire to live PBD lifestyle and eventually dabble in running to see if it is something I can do! The biggest reason is to help my family understand the dangers of animal products. Thank you for your efforts!

  8. I can’t wait to read this. I follow him on Facebook and am looking forward to getting a big dose of his knowledge at once.

  9. I know my chances of receiving a free copy of this book is very unlikely but I would like a copy. My wife has been brainwashed by the masses that we have to have a lot of protien…(Meaning meat with every meal). I have lost 32 lbs by following a plant based diet and would like her and my other friends and family to know the protien (meat) is killing them.
    I would share the information in this book with all that differ from my beliefs.

  10. I would love to win a copy of this book. Having been mostly vegan for 4 years, I am always looking forward to learning more about being plant based.

  11. I would love to win a copy of Proteinaholic because, as a teenager, many people blindly assume that my being vegan is injuring my health. While I know my lifestyle is healthy and will probably save my life, I would love to be able to defend my lifestyle with facts from a very reliable source, a source that I can then refer others to.

    Thank you!

  12. I just finished my first 21 day plant based whole foods challenge. This is when I first found your blog. My husband is a carnavour but eats what I cook. (Mostly) He also had quadruple bypass 3 years ago. Since I am just getting serious about this plant based plan I could use all the help I can get. I would love the information Protienaholic
    Would give me. Thank You.

  13. I’d love to win a copy of Dr. Davis’ book because I heard him interviewed on the Plant Yourself Podcast a couple months ago, and I really liked what he had to say and the way he said it. I’ve been mostly vegan for 18 years now (WFPB for about 3), but I still love to read everything on the topic I can get my hands on! Thanks for the contest!

  14. This book is oerfect for me. I am an edurance athlete and have been Paleo to keep the pounds at bay. My entire family is vegan and I desperately want to go, but am very afraid of not getting enough protein to keep my weight down. I would LOVE to hear the doctor’s view on it and what he suggests. I am DYING for something like this because all the other things I have read says that some people gain weight because of all the extra starchy carbs.

    1. Molly, with vegan diet you add starchy carbs but subtract high-calorie meat and dairy, plus the fiber in plant-based foods keeps your hunger at bay –> it’s a win-win situation! But of course, Dr. Davis explains the process in much more detail.

  15. I am 8 years out from Bariatric surgery. It saved my life. I’ve regained about 20 pounds. Yet, my heart doctor has told me to quit eating meat because statin drugs are not lowering my cholesterol and I’m a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen. I would like to win this book.

  16. I have wanted this book before Dr. Davis even announced he was writing it, but there always seems to be something else that my funds need to go towards. I would love a copy of this book so that I can embark on a garbage food free journey to health.

  17. I have had bariatric sleeve surgery to save my life. I lost 139 pounds and stopped. I am still obese. My heart doctor told me to stop eating meat because my cholesterol is extremely high and none of the statin drugs touch it. I’ve had a stoke before my surgery and the blocked arteries in my heart and carotid arteries has gone from 30 to 40%. I see my Bariatric surgeon every 6 months and he says not to change my diet…that I am one of his success stories. I’m 8 years out from surgery and have regained about 20 pounds following my surgeon’s diet. I hate meat and I want to go vegan. I would like to win this book.

  18. I am totally committed to this way of eating but I struggle to present a clear msg to others who are interested. I have a relative who is a coach, teacher, principal and all around good guy. He has a huge heart and does so much for his students and community. I want a copy of the book for him so he can change his SAD eating and vet healthy. He would be a role model who would impact many lives. Thank you for this review and this contest!

  19. I’ve been following Dr. Garth Davis for awhile. I am very much looking forward to reading his book because I am interested in medicine and applying the plant-based diet to a medical practice. I love reading clear, synthesized writing on findings in clinical science.

  20. I am a true believer in the vegan athlete. I have a good friend, male age 52, who recently suffered a heart attack.
    I would love to give him this book, after I’ve read it myself, of course. I also have a friend at work who upon hearing of my vegan status immediately started bombarding me with questions and erroneous facts about the need for protein and was I getting enough in my diet. I need the ammunition to combat this misinformed person.

    1. Sorry to hear about your friend, Ken! If you haven’t yet, check out Dr. Garth Davis’ Facebook page, he talks about nutrition every day, including all of those things we’re bugged by our friends and family all the time.

  21. I have become THE voice (accidentally, reluctantly at times) for the animals, for true healthy eating, for lifestyle changes in my circle of friends and beyond. So I believe that arming myself with Dr Davis’ medically and scientifically sound book will solidify the information I disseminate from my individual research. It will showcase it for those on the cusp of making the big changes they proclaim to me they want to make!

  22. I’d love a copy! I think by lending this book out to friends & family I can change a lot of peoples opinions on the importance of protein 🙂

  23. I have recently been having health issues, so I haven’t been able to run. The only healthcare professionals I seem to be surrounded by tell me it is because I am vegan. So I am left to myself to figure out what is wrong and what to do. So I love reading your posts and this book sounds amazing.

  24. To make people better understand that I do not need all the animal protein to be health. I would like to have better knowlegment to pass on,yo People. People keep driving me nuts because I am a vegan and by their opinion I am not health. Thank you.

  25. Great review! I have been following Dr. Garth on Facebook for quite some time now. I have to say, I was raised in the South and the meat was always the center of the plate, so even now it’s hard for me to understand how a lot of protein can be bad for us. I’m plant-based right now (I usually do it about 6 months out of the year) and would like to understand it more. It’s funny, too, that you mention how little nutrition education doctors receive. My OB doctor gives me crazy advice (drink lots of milk!) and I just smile and nod my head. I just commented to my husband yesterday that they don’t actually learn about nutrition in med school. It’s incredible. Oh, and thanks for the chance!

    1. That’s mind-boggling to me too, Jenee! It’s unfortunate that doctors have to spend years and years in school, yet such important topic as nutrition is never covered.

  26. I have a friend who recently suffered a heart attack. She actually coded. The doctor said she had a 100% blockage and put in stents. I have talked to her about lifestyle changes. She says she is open to
    change but wants to take baby steps. She is obese. I want to give her a copy of Proteinaholic in hopes it will be the catalyst she needs to restore her health.

  27. I would love love love to win this book. I have been running on and off for years, but more so in the past two years. This year i completed my first ultra and next year I am doing the kokoda challange. Having been veggie for many many years, next year I am focusing on becoming stronger and healthier inside and out. I really need some advice and direction about diet and in particular the protein aspect of my diet. Having mainly ignored micronutrient values in my diet in the past, I am keen and ready to learn more about the food that feeds us and winning this book would help me achieve this ☺

  28. I’d love to win a copy. I’m a vegan and a science geek, so I am always eager to read material from the medical community regarding veganism.

  29. I would like to read this book, and then pass it on to my family members. They all think I’m going to die of malnutrition because I’m vegan!

  30. Man, would I Love to win this book!!!! I’ve been struggling to remain vegan for a few years now, in a home with a husband and 3 boys that act like the world is going to end, if animal products are lacking in the kitchen. I’m beyond frustrated trying to get them to understand the dangers of too much protein, and I could use all the good information I can get. I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, on a very tight budget. Let’s hope I win!

  31. I’d love to win a copy to help me answer well-meaning friends who ask the perennial question, or who say they believe in “moderation.”

  32. I’m a new vegan and starting down this path is so exciting for me! I’m gobbling up any information I can get my hands on and have been meaning to read this one for a while. This has been such a healing and enlightening journey for me already, and I’m only at the beginning! 🙂

  33. I started experimenting with veganism/vegan recipes a year into becoming vegetarian back in 2010 and became a full-blown vegan 2 1/2 years ago. And I will never look back! I would looove to win a copy of Proteinaholic, not only to win those ubiquitous pro- protein laden arguments that pop up every single day (that’s a good reason, right? haha), but to also better inform myself. I’m well-versed in health in regards to veganism , but it never hurts to learn more!

  34. I have been a vegan for 4 months now and have been lifting weights. I thought about taking protein supplements as the vegan diet was not giving me the level of protein I had when I was eating meat. This book sounds like the right advise at the right time for me!

  35. I became a vegan 7 mos ago to try to be healthier. I have never felt better, and will never go back. I am always wanting to learn more, and that is why I would love to win a copy of the book. Thanks!!

  36. I would love to win a copy of Proteinaholic so that I can be better armed to face and answer the question “Where do you get your protein?!” when I tell friends and family members that I do not eat animal products.

  37. I would love to win a copy of Proteinaholic. I’ve shifted to a vegan lifestyle overnight 2 years ago after a visit to an animal agriculture museum with my grandson and after watching a documentary about the meat, dairy and egg industry. I am a full vegan, am also a runner and training for my next marathon in May of next year. I’m very passionate about the vegan movement and animals and try to inform others as much as possible about the positive impact a vegan lifestyle has on the animals, our health and on our planet. It’s important to share your knowledge and educate others in a positive way, about nutrients and protein our body needs and that you can get all that from plants. The more knowledge I have, the better I can inform others and this book would be a great source of information.

  38. I have my own copy, but would like to have one to share with people. This one has the potential to change people’s thinking!

  39. I’ve been vegan for 3 years (still get certain family members pushing food on me but they mean well). I’m currently trying to lose weight and it’s going well but especially when you’re trying to lose weight is when protein is glorified, that you need to eat more of it and you can’t lose weight without enough yada yada. But then you get conflicting opinions, that too much is stored as fat. Curious about his take on it.

    1. Also, I just thought of this, my mom had bariatric surgery done years ago and her surgeon told her to eat PROTEIN. Lots of it. Like, that was all she ate for every meal. Interested in how he feels about it since that is his profession.

      1. In the book Dr. Davis says that he used to believe in the same approach, but then noticed that a huge number of his patients would gain a lot of their weight back even after a successful surgery. All of his research made him come to a conclusion that protein shouldn’t be glorified as much as it is now.

    2. Jackie, Dr. Davis covers this aspect in a lot of detail in the book. In particular, he says that it’s kind of odd that protein is recommended both for people who want to lose weight and those who want to gain it, like in case of bodybuilders. Focus on high-fiber foods instead, and you’ll see way better results for weight loss!

  40. Have tried numerous times to get ahold of this book at various bookstores with no success! Maybe this is a sign that I am to win the book Proteinaholic!!! Very excited!

  41. Been fighting a weight battle all my life to no end… Started following Dr. John McDougall’s Starch Solution way of eating…similar to Dr. Garth. ..except Dr.McDougall doesn’t allow any oils at all except nuts, seeds and avocados…but nit if want to lose weight. Loving all my starchy comfort foods and feel great and finally losing weight! Still having a hard time with leaving out oils entirely…but trying! Love Dr. Garths thinking and would love to have a copy if his new book!

  42. I live in North Carolina which seems to be the meat and bbq captal of the world. .. trying to move back to plant based with a family of men… I need the support! !!!!

  43. After a scary diagnosis last Christmas followed by surgery I decided to cut meat out of my diet entirely. I’m not vegan yet, but have not drank milk in years but do love my yogurt and eggs…that could slowly change as well! I’d very much appreciate a copy of Protein~Aholic as I enjoy soaking in all good food information by Dr Davis. Thank-you for the chance of a giveaway 🙂

  44. I need another copy of this book! I got it the day it was released, and read it. I proceeded to give it to my son-in-law who is a doctor himself. My intention was to get the word out to a doc who could in turn, spread the word to patients.
    He’s enjoying but I’m truly missing my copy! I went to a vegan meet up and missed having my copy to share!
    I need a copy to reference it for specific information, especially with the holidays coming up so I can share the info with other family members who need the info!

  45. Dear Alina!

    I live in south Brazil and can´t describe how happy I get every time I receive your posts! It would be awsome having a copy of Proteinaholic because we don´t have this book in Brazil and if I read it, Proteinaholic would benefit not only me and my family, but it would also help all of my friends in understanding the blessings of having a vegan diet.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Kind Regards,


  46. After approximately four years of being on the path of eating a plant-based, whole-food diet, I still find myself being concerned about eating enough protein. I can’t quite shake that mentality. I’m a small female and don’t eat a lot at one meal, so I’m challenged by eating meals that provide satiety (which is partly why I find myself focusing on protein). My perception is protein=satiety. It would be exciting to read Dr. Davis’ take on this.

  47. I’d LOVE to win a copy of Proteinaholic!!! I’ve shifted to vegan quite a bit in the last 3 years, and would love to shift even closer to being full vegan. Also, I need a bit more knowledge. People ask me the craziest questions and I’d love to have a good source to refer them to, and just have some answers for them on the tip of my tongue. This book will absolutely accomplish that from the sounds of it.

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