Plant vs Animal Protein

This article has been written by The Food State Company and appears with their permission.

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Animal or Vegetable Protein – which serves us best and what are the differences?

We generally consider meat and fish to be our richest form of protein, but we shouldn’t ignore the availability of healthy and concentrated protein in a vegetarian diet. This article draws distinctions and dispels myths surrounding protein.

Vegetarian Proteins

Eating a wide variety of foods is the key to a healthy, balanced diet, whether you eat meat or not. Certain foods like tofu, hempseed and some grains are rich and diverse in their amino acid (protein) content. The key is to eat a varied selection of plants to optimise protein intake because the body is very clever at balancing complementary amino acid levels from various vegetables, cereals, pulses, nuts and seeds. In the book “The China Study” the researcher concluded after 60 years of research that plant sourced proteins helped to “switch off” cancer cells (apoptosis) while animal proteins did not.

What Is The Most Concentrated Plant-Based Protein?

 The Foodstate Company Organic Pea Protein:

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-  High in branched chain amino acids

-  Easily digestible

-  100% allergen free

-  Low in carbs

-  Gluten free

Editor's note: We've just started stocking the Foodstate Company Organic Pea Protein at our Colomberie health shop. It is available in 500g packs for £17.95. A great alternative to whey protein if you follow a vegan diet or would prefer not to have animal based proteins in your diet.

Is Plant Protein Inferior To Animal Protein?

No! Plant proteins contain the same 23 amino acids as animal proteins.

Can We Eat Too Much Protein?

Absolutely, although health concerns only relate to over-consumption of animal protein. The average America consumes 100 to 120 grams of protein daily, mostly animal-based. Combined with a sedentary lifestyle, excess animal protein puts a great deal of stress on the kidneys causing premature aging and a higher risk of kidney stones.

Further Health Risks:

Other health conditions from excessive animal protein include excessive calcium leaching from the bones causing osteoporosis, acid reflux, obesity, plaque build-up in the arteries, high blood pressure, pain from arthritis, high cholesterol, bad breath from sulphur-containing amino acids, and increased risk of cancer, especially liver and colon cancer.

Foods High In Protein And How To Make The Most Of Them:

Grains:

-  Wheat (whole, cracked, bulgar, flakes, bran, germ, semolina, couscous), amaranth, buckwheat, barley, farro, corn (or maize - sweet corn, popcorn, polenta), millet, sorghum, oats, rye, quinoa, wild rice

Rice:

-  White and brown rice, white and black sticky rice, white and brown long-grain rice, basmati rice, white short-grain rice, jasmine rice, red rice (e.g. Camargue), Italian risotto rice, calasparra, paella rice

Nuts:

-  Almonds, cashew, coconuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sweet chestnuts, walnuts

Seeds:

-  poppy, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, linseeds, flax seeds

-  Linseeds are a particularly good source of an essential fatty acid called a-linolenic acid, that supports proper nerve function and helps reduce symptoms of arthritis and heart disease.

Pulses:

-  Peas, beans, lentils. Use super-nutritious pulses - fresh, dried or canned - as the basis for a huge variety of dishes.

Soya Products and mycoproteins: 

Miso, soya, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, bean curd. Products made from soya are incredibly versatile and high in protein.

Wheat Protein: 

Sometimes called seitan, it’s derived from wheat gluten (the protein part of flour). The gluten is extracted from wheat and then processed to resemble meat. Similar to meat in taste/texture and naturally low in fat. Can be roasted, baked, stir-fried or stewed.

Where Do We Get Our Protein?

An average restaurant menu is proof that the centrepiece of Western food is a large serving of meat, chicken or fish, frequently prepared in creamy sauces or melted cheese. One meal alone fulfils a day's worth of protein needs and confirms our obsession with eating protein. Let there be no misunderstanding: protein is a necessity for building and repairing new cells, hormones, antibodies, enzymes and muscle tissue, and we need it daily because the body doesn't store. But just how much protein do we really need?

Calculating Our Protein Requirement:

An easy way to calculate your own daily protein requirement is to multiply 0.36 (grams) by your body weight. That translates to about 44 grams for a 120-pound woman and 54 grams for a 150-pound male. In metric terminology the RDA is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight.

Conclusion:

If you are vegetarian or vegan you don’t need to be concerned about lacking in protein in your diet, but it is wise to establish which foods are available to you that are rich in protein.

Meat consumption certainly has its place in a balanced diet – the healthy approach is to avoid fatty meat, try to eat organic and don’t over-consume red meat. Avoid pork in all its forms. It is worth noting that vegetable protein is very easily and quickly digested, whereas meat protein is a much lengthier process and requires a lot more of the body’s energy.

This article has been reproduced courtesy of The Food State Company, whose food based supplements are available from Barannes at our Colomberie Health Store.

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