Animal Protein v.s Plant Protein

One of the hottest debates at the moment is about protein. Which one is ultimately better for us? It is understandable that with our current meat production and mass animal slaughter, a number of people have become vegan or vegetarian. I did too for a while, but now I eat meat again. Let’s take a closer look at some pros and cons of both, plant and animal protein, and see if we can reach a conclusion.

The difference between plant and animal protein

First of all, what is a protein? A protein is a chain of amino acids that our body needs for dozens of function such as repair and growth. In total there are 20 amino acids, essential and non-essential amino acids. 11 non-essential that can be produced by our body, 9 can not be produced by our bodies and those are the ones we get from food or supplements.

If a protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, it is named a complete protein. If it is missing one of the 9 essential amino acids it is called an incomplete protein.

Here we start to see some differences between the animal and plant proteins. All animal proteins are complete proteins. They contain all the 9 essential amino acids. Animal proteins being all types of meat as well as animal produce such as eggs and dairy. Plant proteins, including beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds are almost always incomplete proteins. Except soy products and quinoa.

While you can get all essential amino acids from animal protein, you can also get them all from plants by combining them. Grains are low in lysine while beans are low in methionine. This means, if you are eating only plants, you can easily get all your amino acids by combining different plants to balance each other out and make sure you get the full amino acid package.

Methionine on the other hand is also found plenty in meat. The overconsumption of methionin causes inflammation and aging when eaten in excess. When you eat a diet high in animal protein, you can expect a 75% increased risk of dying from all causes over 18 years, 400% increased risk dying of cancer, 500% increased risk of diabetes. [1]

The rate of body protein synthesis appears to be lower when plant-based proteins are consumed versus animal-based proteins

Whitney Linsenmeyer- Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

According to Linsenmeyer, animal protein might be aiding better with muscle repair and growth compared to plant protein. Animal protein also have a high amount of leucine, an amino acid essential for muscle protein synthesis.

What else do animal proteins offer? They offer the biggest natural sources of vitamin D, which is found plenty in fish and eggs. In addition. vitamin B12 is found only in animal proteins.

What do plants offer? They got fibre. Plants are a great source of fibre which you need for healthy digestion. Also, plants have some carbs to offer you. Most animal protein is almost carb free.

Animal proteins on the other hand contain saturated fats, the fat that can raise your bad LDL cholesterol and later cause problems, such as clogged arteries.

It also heavily depends on how you eat your meat, processed meat, fried meat and charred meat may give you animal proteins but also raise your chance of inflammation and cancer.

Sadly, there is a tendency to consume meat in a way that is causing more problems than good.

If you are getting your protein from animals, make sure you do not fry, grill or burn the meat. Processed meats should also be avoided as they contain many other additives that have been linked to cancer and other disease. Especially the consumption of red meat has been linked to disease. Read more about our post on Red Meat. If you consume your animal protein from gently cooked grass fed animals or wild caught fish.

When you get your proteins from plants, you do not face these problems too much. That is why it is easier to eat plant protein without worrying about all the different types of side effects related to how meat is prepared. When you read the China study, you will see what I mean.

Whereas plant proteins might be offering a healthier choice of protein intake, there are other factors to consider when eating plants.

What to keep in mind when consuming plant protein

Vegetable oils reduce thyroid function by preventing thyroid hormones from binding to receptors [2]. When you eat only plants, your thyroid hormones will start to increase at first to compensate, but that does not last forever. Eventually, it slows down your brain and your energy levels drop. When you are eating whole grains, watch out for gluten as it reduces blood flow to the brain, interferes with thyroid function and depletes vitamin D stores.

The other problem with grains, which is glyphosate. Crops are sprayed with glyhosate to kill weeds but it does more than just that. Glyphosate caused tumor growth and cancer according to the WHO. It is also highly toxic to mitochondria, as well as damaging proteins needed for kidney health. [3] [4] [5]

Cutting out animal proteins from your diet will not be sustainable in the long run, make sure you get enough but not too much protein as that is where the problems start. Try to avoid grains as a protein source as enough evidence suggest that gluten and glyphosate are causing multiple health problems.

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