why plant protein is better than animal protein

It’s a myth that vegans and vegetarians don’t get enough protein through their diet. In fact, upon investigating the eating records of a large group of people who consumed a plant-based diet, it was found that they got 70% more protein than their daily requirement on average. 

You might ask: a protein molecule is a protein molecule. Does it matter where it comes from? Actually yes. 

High animal protein consumption brings with it several risks. For instance, a long term high meat, high protein diet can lead to some negative effects such as increased cancer risk, increased chance of liver disorders and disorders pertaining to bone and calcium balance as well as worsening of coronary artery disease. 

High animal protein intake not only appears to trigger the release of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a cancer-promoting growth hormone, but it also seemingly induces a significant increase in the kidney’s workload (also called hyperfiltration). 

On the other hand, plant protein intake appears to be linked to lower risk of heart disease and lower cancer risk as compared to animal protein. In addition, an equivalent amount of plant protein has apparently zero stress on kidneys. 

But wait, there’s more! According to NutritionFacts.org, several nutritional research studies have found strong associations between a diet enriched in plant protein and the following health benefits:

  • Lower risk of allergies
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower total cholesterol 
  • Lower risk of Crohn’s disease
  • Life extension
  • Better preservation of muscle mass as one ages
  • Lower risk of premature puberty
  • Lower risk of bladder cancer 
  • Smaller BMI and slimmer waist
  • Phosphorus management for those suffering from chronic kidney disease
  • Lower risk of endometrial cancer
  • Lower risk of inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis 
  • Beneficial effects on psychological disorders linked to low serotonin levels
  • Beneficial effects for Parkinson’s disease patients
  • Slower progression of prostate cancer

There are some excellent sources of plant protein out there such as beans, lentils, split peas, brown rice, nuts (including nut butter), seeds, and soy. There are also many plant protein bars and powders now available in the market in order to build muscle and ensure optimal health. I absolutely love the plant-based protein products by Orgain and Vega; they have been my go-to sources for post-workout recovery drinks. And when I’m on the go and/or short on time, I keep the Clif Builder’s Protein Bars with me for a quick protein and energy boost.

If you’ve been consuming a high animal protein diet, whether it be the muscle proteins in meat, the egg-white protein in eggs, or the milk proteins in dairy, it’s never too late to switch to a diet rich in plant protein. It will definitely take some time and conscious effort on your side to acclimate to a plant-based diet, but it’ll significantly reduce your health risks and be totally worth it in the long run.