Did you know that protein can be sourced from both animals and plants? Read our article, to learn more about the key differences between both these sources of protein and their nutritional and environmental impacts.
What is a Protein?
Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, as it is a primary source of energy, whilst also increasing muscle strength and boosting one’s metabolism. Proteins are comprised of building blocks known as amino acids which combine together to make new muscle, bones, enzymes and hormones. According to the National Academy of Medicine, it is recommended that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day.
What are the main differences and Benefits of Animal vs Plant-based?
Animal protein is the highest source of protein as it contains all the essential amino acids required, whilst plant proteins can be low in certain amino acids. Animal protein sources include fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, and they are all sources of complete protein. Contrastingly, plant protein sources include beans, lentils and nuts and these are incomplete sources of proteins. For optimal health, it is important to get a good balance of both these animal and plant-based proteins.
Main differences of Protein in terms of Nutrition for the Body
One of the biggest sources of difference for plant-based and animal-based proteins are the health benefits and nutritional value of each. Animal-based proteins tend to be higher in saturated fats and sodium. However, they also have health benefits such as poultry and fish consumers having a lowered risk of heart disease. In contrast, plant proteins are a better well-rounded option as they have more extensive health benefits. This includes having a lower risk of heart disease, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and reduced chances of weight gain.
Main Differences in terms of Environmental Impact
Unlike plant-based proteins, animal-based proteins have a higher detriment to the environment. The agricultural industry is one of the primary contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and is accelerating climate change on a global level. This is due to the immense resources the industry requires such as large quantities of water and land, to sustain itself. Raising livestock also generates a significant amount of air pollution, as they produce gases such as methane from their waste. Whilst plant-based proteins also require extensive land and resources to grow and cultivate crops, they produce far fewer emissions, and thus a more viable long-term solution for a sustainable source of protein, if climate change continues to accelerate.