1. Consuming only animal products can hinder your quality of life.
2. Consuming only plant products can hinder your quality of life.
3. Consuming both can create the perfect you.
One of the most common questions I get asked is, “Why are animal proteins better for you than plant proteins?”
The short answer is that in my opinion, they’re not.
Now that you’re scratching your head because you know that I love Paleo and the foundation of Paleo nutrition is meat, let me explain.
A protein is a chain of smaller elements called amino acids which are glued together and used in the body. Proteins/amino acids are involved in building muscle, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, etc. They can also be used as a last-ditch effort to give the body energy. There are 21 amino acids which are used in the human body and these are broken down in to three categories. Non-essential, Conditionally Essential and Essential. Non-essential amino acids are amino acids that our bodies can create and include Alanine, Aspartic Acid, glutamic Acid and Selenocysteine. Conditionally essential amino acids can be produced by the body but may be lacking in high-demand situations like heavy training. These include Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine, Asparagine. Essential amino acids are elements which the body can not produce and must be consumed in the diet. These are Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine.
According to a paper released in 2002 for the American Heart Association, John Mcdougall, MD, states that research has been performed as early as 1952 which showed vegeterians can, in fact, get a sufficient Amino Acid profile from plant sources without too much thought on variance. This flies in the face of one of the most common misconceptions that plant sources are incomplete and that the diet will be deficient of many of the essential amino acids on a vegetarian diet. Mcdougall ends his paper with condemning meats because they contribute to conditions like heart disease.
The one lack is that plants have fairly low levels of Methionine, an essential amino acid used to help the liver function, clear toxins and increase your body’s ability to heal.
According to a 2010 meta-analysis also released from the American heart Association, consumption of processed meats increase our risk for heart disease by more than 50%. Shockingly, they also conclude that consumption of non-processed red meats showed no increase in heart disease risk. So we find that red meats are taking the blame for what processing foods and adding preservatives has done to our health.
So on the surface, the question seems simple: Animal proteins aren’t all that much better than plants. But look a little deeper and we may find the real question is a little different.
The real question being asked is: Why are Animals healthier for me to eat than plants?
One isn’t healthier than the other, they need to work together. If you do a side-by-side comparison of animal and plant foods, you will find a truly amazing thing. Both plants and animal foods have weaknesses and strengths…but where one is weak, the other is strong and they form a PERFECT compliment. Go ahead, try it. Go visit nutritiondata.self.com and type in an animal food. Then open another window and type in a plant food. You will find that where one is low in a certain vitamin, mineral or nutrient, the other is high. Keep in mind that your body needs fat and cholesterol as well as protein to function.
So the long answer to the question is: Stop basing a food’s worth on a single nutrient. It’s the combination of foods that you eat that create your body, health and lifestyle. Eat meat because it’s good for you in some ways. Eat plants because it’s good for you in other ways.
Eat simply. Eat close to the earth.
Mcdougall, John: Plant Foods Have a Complete Amino Acid Composition
Circulation.2002; 105: e197doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000018905.97677.1F
Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Published online 2010 May 17. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.924977