Animal Protein & Our Health

The consumption of animal protein and eating the vegan or vegetarian way is controversial among nutrition scientists as well as the layperson. It appears that many studies on the consumption of animal protein are missing some information that may affect the outcome of the study.  Many vegetarians/vegans find when they add animal protein to their diets while consuming fresh, whole foods they begin to feel better and more energized.

While some people choose not to eat meat from animals or animal-derived products for spiritual or moral beliefs, others choose not to for health reasons.  It is believed that one can consume a combination of foods in order to get a complete protein usable by the body.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Often, people combine proteins from grains and beans.  The belief is the lack of lysine in grains and the lack of methionine in beans are good combinations to get that complete protein – one with all the necessary amino acids.  The problem with this is amino acids found in grains, beans, and nuts are bound by fiber and phytate which makes it hard for humans to digest and absorb them so we only absorb about 50% of the protein in these combined vegetarian/vegan foods.

On the other hand, animal protein is close to 97% absorbable. In addition, animal protein increases the body’s metabolism, helps regulate blood sugar, helps with bone-building, and is the building block for many brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.  There are studies linking the consumption of meat to chronic disease but don’t include important information that also can have negative effects on our health.

This missing information includes:

  1. Was the meat factory-farmed and given hormones and antibiotics?
  2. Were the animals grass-fed or grain-fed?
  3. Were the study participants eating healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables?
  4. Were the study participants eating processed foods on a regular basis?
  5. Were the study participants living a stressful life?

All of these missing pieces to some of these studies have an impact on overall health and chronic disease.  In addition, studies on meat, for example, red meat and cancer, did studies on mice that were only fed meat; they ate nothing else that represents what humans eat.  Chronic disease and poor health cannot be blamed on just one thing.  There are many things to consider when looking at eating to improve health.

Elsevier. (2014, March 7). "Eating red and processed meat - what do scientists say." Medical

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