With the release of the documentary The Game Changers, there has been a growing interest in the benefits of plant-based foods and a move away from animal protein.
However this raises the issue of getting enough protein.
We need protein to build & repair muscles and tissues, plus keep our hormones & immune system functioning properly.
But can we get enough protein if we chose not to eat red meat, chicken, fish eggs etc?
One of the largest studies comparing meat-eaters to plant-eaters, showed that plant eaters not only got enough protein, but 70% more than they needed.
And meat-eaters got nearly 50% of their protein from plants.
Yes there WAS a belief that animal protein was superior to plant protein because it contained all the amino acids.
Our body needs 20 amino acids, and can only make 11 of them, so we need to get the other 9 from food.
Animal protein has all the amino acids, while plant proteins do as well, just in differing amounts.
Another belief (that I learned 30 years ago at Uni) was that if we were only going to eat plant proteins, we needed to eat complementary plant proteins, like beans & rice, at the same meal. We now know this is NOT necessary as amino acids are being continually recycled.
In fact, you should be more concerned about eating too much protein.
Excess protein can result in mild problems like bad breath all the way to heart disease. It can result in constipation and dehydration, due to the body having to flush our excess nitrogen, the by-product of protein metabolism.
Red meat and to a lesser extent other animal products, change our gut microbiome and cause them to produce TMAO, a compound linked to inflammation and heart disease.
The WHO has classified red meat as a Class 2 carcinogen.
On the other hand, ALL plant proteins do not pose any of the above health issues AND come with fibre.
There is NO fibre in any animal products or dairy.
Fibre has a long list of health benefits:
  • Reduces the speed at which glucose can enter the bloodstream
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps you to feel full longer
  • Delays or even inhibits the absorption of fat
  • Provides food for the good gut bacteria improving your immunity
  • Binds toxins and unwanted estrogen & escorts them out of the body!
All plant contain some protein but the best sources are:
  • Legumes (all beans & lentils)
  • Seeds (chia, hemp, flaxseeds)
  • Whole grains (rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice)
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
My current recommendation for anyone wanting to work towards optimal health is to reduce your consumption of animal protein to once a day OR less.
Start by adding a can of brown lentils to your next bolognaise sauce, or a can of chickpeas to your next chicken casserole. Then get brave and experiment with recipes that are totally plant-based, like a red lentil dahl.
One of the easiest ways to make this transition is to meal plan.
I believe this is the key to making ‘healthy eating’ a lifestyle.
Creating a customised menu plan for your family is the simplest way to stay on track, reduce time and money spent in the kitchen, and stop wondering ‘what’s for dinner?’ at 5pm every afternoon.
If you would like some help please book a complimentary chat and I’d be happy to quickly assess your meat intake and let you know if you’re eating too much.