Exploring Plant-Based vs. Animal Proteins: Advantages and Disadvantages

Which Protein: Plant or Animal?

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Which Protein: Plant or Animal?

In today’s modern society, a variety of eating lifestyles are evident. Unfortunately, individuals often engage in criticizing each other’s chosen dietary paths. I am concentrating on the proteins found in plant-based diets and the traditional “omnivore” approach that combines animal proteins, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Being dedicated to assisting individuals in adopting a clean, toxin-free eating lifestyle, I do consume meat. I am highlighting these two types of protein with their advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to figure out what’s right for you and supports a healthier body over time.

Vegan Lifestyle

Vegan lifestyle has its purpose. It has some limitations in comparison with a clean animal protein lifestyle.  There are several reasons. The Vegan lifestyle’s popularity stems from its plant-based approach that excludes meat protein due to concerns about inhumane treatment of animals and the health risks associated with consuming commercially raised animals in our toxic world.  I agree with these beliefs.  I’m discussing clean animal proteins such as grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chickens, and wild-caught salmon due to their cleaner diets.

For a vegan diet to be completely clean, you must buy organic produce.  Unfortunately, produce today is lacking a lot of nutrients due to the condition of our soil.  Produce nutrition alone has declined over several decades to be 70-80% deficient in nutrients due to lack of minerals in our soils.  Supplementation is a must for vegans, and really , everyone. 

In the plant-based world, vegans are not getting enough of the following in their diet. These ideas from Lifeextension.com.

Disadvantages & Workaround for Vegan Protein

Quality Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  Protein-containing foods will vary according to Lifeextension.com. The body cannot produce essential amino acids on its own, necessitating their intake through our diet.

Common deficiencies in a Vegan diet include leucine, lysine, and sulfur-containing acids. National Library of medicine adds a few more methionine, isoleucine, threonine and tryptophan. To address the lower anabolic (muscle-building) impact of plant-based foods compared to animal protein, Vegans should consume a variety of plant sources.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for mood, brain, and the nervous system.  It is found in a variety of animal meat proteins.  There are some plant-based foods, but these come from processed foods in cereals where there are “fortified.”

In today’s world of processed foods can you rely on them to be clean?  For me I would say no.  Cereal is full of gluten that gums up your intestinal track making your foods harder to absorb.  Not truly a good choice. Thus, supplementation with a vegan diet is a mandate.  You need to have a methylated form of B complex.  Luckily, I can help vegans with this dilemma.

Calcium & Vitamin D

Calcium and Vitamin D traditionally come from dairy products.  Yes, vegans consume a lot of vegetables such as broccoli, soybeans, spinach, and leafy greens as well as legumes.  There are a few things to consider. Supplementation is a necessity. A lot of soybeans in the United States have GMOs.  Soybeans also can mimic estrogen.  Stay strictly organic which means no pesticides.  Pay attention to GMO free options too.

As for Vitamin D, sunlight is a vegan’s friend.   Remember we simply spend too much time indoors. Vegans have a few options for D.  Some plants and UV exposed mushrooms.  Vitamin D supports blood and healthy bones.  Here again is where supplementation is important back up of the produce deficiencies.

Iron

Iron is important for red blood function.  Iron from meats provides heme iron that is more bioavailable than nonheme iron found in plant foods. It is important for Vegans to consume Vitamin C to make nonheme iron absorb a little better. Looking at supplementation is a good idea.

Zinc

Zinc is crucial for the immune system function, protein synthesis and more.  In a plant-based diet source, zinc bioavailability is lower than animal sources like beef and seafood.

According to NIH, a Vegan requires 50% more RDA from Zinc.  You can soak beans and leavened grains to help inhibit the phytates that cause the zinc absorption problem.

Iodine

Seaweed is the only food option for iodine for strict Vegans.  Seaweed is a great option because, beans’ and potatoes’ amount of iodine varies on the regional growing practices.  Iodized salt could help too.  The problem is you cannot rely on produce because of nutrient deficiencies.  Supplementation is a mandate.  I can help you with iodine supplementation.

Omega-3 DHA

DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid is important for brain and heart health.  It mainly comes from salmon and sardines. 

It is hard for Vegan to get DHA.  Supplementing with algae derived DHA is one way.  Also you can look at Klamath Falls Blue Green Algae as another good source. Don’t forget, walnuts, chia and flax seeds are good vegan sources of DHA.  DHA can convert to ALA, but conversion is very low.  It also depends on how healthy you are.  As for flax seeds they do mimic estrogen.  Beware of this in case you have issues.

Vitamin B2

Riboflavin is Vitamin B2, and plays a vital role in energy production, cellular function, metabolism and more.  Lean meats, egg and dairy are the main sources. 

For Vegan, almonds, quinoa, spinach, grains, and fortified cereals contain riboflavin.  I due urge to stay away from cereals and grains that are GMO or gluten due to the messing up your intestinal track.  Oatmeal has gluten in it too. It is a different form of it.  With quinoa and other produce, boiling it you will lose the riboflavin content.   Be aware of riboflavin deficiencies.  Supplementation is a must.

Omnivore Lifestyle – Animal Proteins

Now people who eat animal proteins are not out of the water yet.  You truly need to stay away from commercialized beef, farmed raised salmon and commercialized chickens.  The problem with these proteins is that they are not regulated, they are exposed to pesticides, animals may get sick and need antibiotics, and they also consume poor diets.

Beef Nutrients & Benefits

Both Grass-fed and Grain-fed have Vitamin B3, B6 and B12 as well as Phosphorus. Beef is a great source of zinc that is essential for immunity and healing.  Also, beef is essential for muscle health.  It is rich in iron that helps to carry oxygen to your lungs and the rest of your body. Plus it great for blood health.

WebMD states that beef helps prevent muscle loss especially for people over 55.  It contains beta-alanine, an amino acid that helps your body make a compound called carnosine. Carnosine is important for muscle function and may increase your ability to do high-intensity exercise.

Grain-Fed Beef

Cattle that eat grains instead of being grass-fed lack the essential nutrients found in grass. Grain-fed beef contains more growth hormones and often involves the administration of antibiotics to the cattle. Additionally, their feed might contain byproducts from other animals, and there’s a potential for exposure to pesticides or fertilizers.

Grass-Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef boasts a superior nutrient profile compared to grain-fed beef, including essential components like Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, and various antioxidant vitamins. It’s noteworthy that grass-fed beef is associated with fewer superbugs, according to WebMD. Additionally, comparing to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef contains lower levels of saturated fats, contributing to its healthier composition.  the Omega Fatty Acid content in grass-fed beef is two to six times greater than in cows fed a grain-based diet as well.

Organic Beef must meet these standards:

  • Animals can’t have any antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • They can’t be fed protein or byproducts from mammals or poultry.
  • Their feed can’t have been exposed to pesticides, growth hormones, or fertilizers.
  • They must have access to the outdoors.

Commercial,  Cage-Free & Free Range Chickens

In my blog post about eggs, I discussed how chickens within commercial facilities often endure life as caged hens. They are deprived of sunlight and subject to unregulated diets, rendering them the least healthy option. Cage-Free chickens have slightly more space, but they still lack proper sunlight, room, and opportunities for natural behaviors. Beak cutting is allowed, and diet control remains unregulated. Shifting to Free-Range Chickens, the USDA’s vague ‘free-range’ label permits its liberal use. These hens have indoor access and limited outdoor exposure, with no dietary constraints. Due to the absence of dietary restrictions, space, and sunlight, these chickens are less healthy, resulting in a less nutritious protein output.

Pasture Raised Chickens

With Pasture Raised Chickens according to PastureBird’s Blog, they have a more humane life.  Raising chickens a in pasture is an ancient framing practice. It is beneficial for both the chickens and the land to be healthier. 

These chickens have ample area to room freely outdoors.  They forage nutrient-dense diet in the form of insects, worms, grass, and seeds, which provide a wealth of extra vitamins and minerals to their diet.  They give back by fertilizing the land with their manure.

Pasture Raised Chickens are healthier.  On PastureBird’s blog that they state their chicken were lab-tested and proven to be three times as high in omega-3’s, 50 percent higher in crucial vitamins such as A, D, and E, and lower in saturated fats by 21 percent. Also, their chickens have higher amounts of amino acids, including glutathione that helps with inflammation.  These chickens are raised without the use of drugs, antibiotics, or hormones that is very important.

The American Pastured Poultry Association states that pasture-raised chicken meat tends to be higher in iron, higher in Omega 3, have a lower Omega 6:3 ratio, and be higher in antioxidants (Vitamin E, for example).

Another blog states that chickens that graze pastures have an unique flavorful taste.  

In my opinion pasture raised chickens are the best chickens to consume due to their cleaner diets.

Salmon

People are told to consume salmon and anchovies for their amazing omega-3 content.

Farmed-raised salmon and wild-caught salmon have notable differences. One visible difference lies in the color of their meat.  Wild-caught salmon boasts a reddish-orange hue due to the carotenoids present in their natural diet, while farmed-raised salmon, lacking crustaceans and algae in their diet, exhibits a paler shade. WebMD also notes the potential texture variation in farmed salmon.  Below are more details of disadvantages and advantages of farmed-raised salmon and wild caught salmon.

Farmed-Raised Salmon

I’ve already discussed how the texture and color are drawbacks of farmed-raised salmon. However, there’s more to consider.

What They Are Fed & Treated

In the past and even now, some farmed-raised salmon are fed “pellets of fishmeal, vegetables, and animal byproducts; they are doused regularly with pesticides and antibiotics,” as reported by Time. Additionally, Sentient Media states that “producers feed their fish food with added carotenoids in an attempt to make farmed salmon look more like wild salmon.” To further enhance their appearance, farmed-raised salmon are provided with “synthetic chemical pigments” to give their naturally “grayish flesh” a more pinkish hue. Unfortunately, this process may have unhealthy long-term effects on your body, as highlighted by WebMD.

Sentient Media’s mention of farmed-raised salmon being “doused regularly with pesticides and antibiotics” raises concerns about the fish being overcrowded, swimming in their own fecal matter, and consequently being exposed to viruses and bacteria. This leads to the need for antibiotics. Additionally, the presence of pesticides further contributes to the overall unhealthiness of these fish as a food source.

Overcrowding Causes Injury and More

Furthermore excessive salmon feces and feed can enter the ocean, leading to fish pollution and a process called eutrophication. This leads to reduced oxygen levels and the growth of toxic algal blooms.

Higher fish density leads to more sea lice too.  Sea lice that are parasites, leave wounds that become infected and can lead to death. To address this issue, harmful chemicals like hydrogen peroxide are frequently used in salmon farms. However, releasing these chemicals into the ocean creates a significant threat to marine life.

Escaped Fish Cause Havoc

Furthermore, some farmed fish escape, spreading diseases. These fish are also “genetically selected for fast growth and early maturity, and they pass these traits to their offspring when they breed with wild salmon.

So, I firmly believe that farmed-raised salmon is an unhealthy food choice, detrimental to both the ecosystem and the environment.

Wild Caught Salmon

Given the information I’ve wrote above, I am cautious. I remain convinced that wild-caught salmon offers a cleaner protein option due to its natural diet.

They are Healthier

While both these fish and us are exposed to toxins and pesticides, wild-caught salmon faces a lower risk of exposure. It tends to be leaner, with fewer calories and saturated fats, and it’s not subjected to feed additives.

Both wild-caught salmon and farmed-raised salmon contain Omega-3s, beneficial for brain health and the nervous system. While farmed-raised salmon may have higher Omega-3 levels, their diet of fishmeal and grains comes with drawbacks.

According to WebMD, wild-caught salmon is a lower risk of carcinogens. They state “wild-caught fish are slightly safer to eat than farm-raised ones.” Additionally, wild-caught salmon has fewer dioxins. Keep in mind that their nutritional content can vary based on their food sources.

This is something I already do, and WebMD backs it up by stating, “You can reduce contaminants or pollutants in salmon by removing the skin, fat, and belly flap before eating.”

You Choose

Now that you’re armed with the information about vegan and clean proteins, you can make your choice. Overall, choosing a clean protein source is preferable, which is why I’ve suggested options like Grass-Fed Beef, Pasture-Raised Chickens, and Wild-Caught Salmon. For both Vegan and Omnivore lifestyles, I strongly recommend GMO-free organic produce. I personally live a clean Keto Lifestyle. Also, help people with Vegan and a Wellness Lifestyle too.

Supplementation is vital for overall health, whether you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan.  Get in touch with me for top-quality source of supplementation and personalized plans supplements and meals. Keep in mind that supplementation helps bridge nutritional gaps left by our foods. Feel free to email me or arrange a free private consultation to discover the best path toward revitalizing your health.