Animal vs. Plant Protein
I have been a vegetarian for the past 6 years, and the number one question that easily arises whenever I talk to someone who eats meat is, “Where do you get your protein from?” It is an age-old myth that the only way to obtain a complete source of protein is just by consuming animal protein. This idea has been perpetuated under the guise that animal proteins are assembled in a way that more closely resembles what humans actually use and break down. Regardless of whether you consume animal protein or vegetable protein, it is all broken down in the same way.
Proteins in foods are broken down by digestion into separate amino acid divisions which is pooled into the blood and stored for future use. When our bodies need to either repair muscle tissue or need to build a specific protein for an enzyme, the amino acids are then strung back together in the appropriate order needed for what it is presently constructing. This happens regardless of whether the body is using animal or plant protein.
“All the essential amino acids required for human protein metabolism are contained in the high-quality proteins in grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and green vegetables – and without undue concern for protein combining,” says Michael Klaper, M.D., a physician, consultant, and educator in medicine and applied nutrition for the past 40 years.
“The idea of plant protein being incomplete and lacking some amino acids has been shown to be a myth. Nature simply cannot make soybean, potato, or grain of wheat without using all the same amino acids (the building blocks of protein) required by the metabolism of humans.”
I am in no way advocating vegetarianism. I would, however, propose not eating as much meat as the average American meat-eater does. Here is a logical and scientific perspective in this endeavor.
Consider that all life on this planet is sustained by the power of the sun. Vegetation covers most of the earth and absorbs sunlight, creating the miracle of photosynthesis, whereby plants covert water and carbon dioxide into new cell formations, which both animals and humans eat. This in turn releases oxygen, which we breathe. The chlorophyll molecule from ingesting green vegetables helps transport oxygen to the cells in our body. Chlorophyll is rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that our bodies require, and has essentially been called liquid sunshine.
The advantage to eating more of a plant-based diet is that your body receives all the benefits of chlorophyll from plants first-hand. The problem with consuming meat is that you receive chlorophyll, and the nutrients thereof, second-hand. The full nutrients of the plants that passed through and were absorbed by the animal are now being delivered to you at half the rate in which they were first received. Also consider that most meat is cooked, which greatly diminishes its nutritional value even further. Although most vegetables are cooked as well, eating raw vegetables is not only 100% safe to eat as opposed to eating raw meat, it is extraordinarily more healthy.