Where do you get your protein? This cliche’ question is as old as veganism in America. With the meat and dairy industry and all of their lobby money, the perception that animal protein is best is something nearly everyone believes.
The most unfortunate part of all of this is that plant protein is far superior. Not only in the quality and effectiveness of protein for the human body, but also in not being a contributor to the host of disease animal protein is related with. By any reasonable measure, plant protein is best.
This is a list of things you should know as a vegan when you get confronted by an omnivore that just doesn’t know any better. And if you are just honestly curious about plant protein vs animal protein, you will learn a lot about the differences here today.
When we use the phrase “plant protein” we are referring to the protein naturally found in whole plant foods–legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, & seeds. We are not talking about vegan isolated protein powders and products.
1. Plant protein is the only truly lean protein.
Depending on what kinds of animal protein you are eating you could be getting as much as 25% of your calories from fat. Even so called “lean chicken” gets 20% of it’s calories from fat. If you really want a lean source of high quality protein, plants are the way to go. Most whole plant foods get less than 5% of their calories from fat.
2. Plant protein lowers your risk of obesity and unwanted weight gain.
A European study of 1800 adolescence determined that diets comprised of plant protein rather than animal protein resulted in a lower instance of obesity. One study even concluded that eating meat was the number one reason for food related weight gain.
3. Plant protein is anti-inflammatory.
Meat-based diets are linked to chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. Animal products cause inflammation because of their saturated fat, endotoxins (small, toxic fragments of bacteria found in animal foods), heme (animal-based) iron, advanced glycation endproducts, and TMAO, a compound made by gut bacteria when we eat meat, eggs, or cheese. Plant-based diets, on the other hand, are naturally anti-inflammatory. Studies show that your blood markers of inflammation can drop in just a few weeks of shifting to a plant-based diet!
4. Plant protein can prevent erectile dysfunction and other blood vessel problems.
When our blood vessels fill up with cholesterol deposits (atherosclerosis) or constrict in response to inflammatory foods like animal products, our blood doesn’t circulate properly – leading to heart disease, strokes, and yes, erectile problems. Animal products are a primary cause of blood vessel dysfunction. In contrast, plant-based diets not only prevent, but can actually treat blood vessel disease, reducing symptoms within a few days.
5. Plant protein doesn’t cause diabetes.
Animal protein, especially red and processed meat, is one of the most potent triggers for type 2 diabetes, even in very small amounts. This is because animal fat, animal-based iron, and nitrate preservatives in meat impair the way our cells respond to insulin, making us insulin resistant. Favoring plant proteins over animal proteins is a very powerful way to lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, and even to treat your diabetes if you already have it.
6. Plant protein doesn’t cause cancer.
The World Health Organization considers processed meats (e.g., bacon, ham, sausage, cold cuts) a group 1 carcinogen (cause cancer) and red meats (e.g., beef, pork, lamb, veal, goat) a group 2 carcinogen (probably cause cancer). These meats are tied most closely to cancers of the colon, pancreas, stomach, and prostate. In fact, all meat, including poultry and fish, release carcinogenic compounds when grilled, barbequed, or otherwise cooked at high temperatures. Animal protein also stimulates our bodies to make IGF1, a hormone that has been linked with cancer cell growth. Plant foods, on the other hand, have powerful antioxidants and other phytonutrients that reduce your risk of cancer.
The final 4 reasons that plant protein is better for you is on the next page below. They are the most important and compelling reasons of all. Get them on the next page below.