Get ready to hear about it from your vegetarian and vegan friends – it turns out there is more proof than ever that human beings who eat more plant than animal protein are healthier in the long run.
I know, I know, hamburgers and steaks are delicious, but just hear me out – because study after study has shown that using meat as your main protein source just isn’t the best (healthiest) course of action.
One recent study found that people who eat a mainly fruit and veg diet had a 31% lower risk of dying from heart disease, and 20% lower risk of dying of health-related concerns overall than those who eat diets heavier in dairy and meat.
As with everything in life, these studies aren’t telling you to never indulge – they’re saying to indulge in moderation, and honestly, the less often the better.
There are a couple of reasons why health experts buy the truth in these studies, and the first is that plant protein has more nutrients and fiber (though it does lack some of the amino acids of meat).
You can get a full accounting of the amino acids you need, plus healthy doses of vitamins B12, niacin, thiamine, B5, B6, B7, A, and K if you eat a variety of animal meats (including organs) – but you lose none of those benefits by choosing a diet of nuts, seeds, and beans, and you gain plenty in the process.
Mostly, it’s that plant-based proteins are healthier than their meat counterparts, packing similar or even more nutrients into far fewer calories. They also contain fiber, lacking in meat proteins, which aids in digestion and promotes a healthy gut microbiome.
Not only that, but people who eat plant proteins tend to have healthier habits overall, and live longer healthier lives because of their choices.
They have less cardiovascular disease and are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. They’re better about seeing their doctors regularly and establishing a routine for preventative care, and also tend to live in quieter, less polluted places.
An analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that “substitution of plant protein, especially from processed red meat, may confer a substantial health benefit.”
Not only are plant proteins and the lifestyle they promote desirable, there are downsides to eating too much meat. One of the biggest ones is the fat that often accompanies meat proteins – it adds plenty of flavor, but also tends to clog up your heart.
Not only that, but recent warnings from the World Health Organizations claim that processed meats are carcinogenic – it’s been linked with higher incidences of colorectal cancer, as well as pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Most dietitians agree with these facts, but will also tell you that food should be enjoyable.