We all know proteins are the building blocks of life. Proteins power a variety of bodily functions including tissue growth, digestion, muscle contraction, and intracellular communication.
The human body makes proteins from individual amino acids, which are essential to get from food. Although meat and dairy products are sources of protein, there are several reasons you may want to consider getting your protein from vegan, whole food plant sources.
1. Plant-based nutrition contains complete proteins
There are eight essential amino acids your body requires: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. You’ll get all of these amino acids with a starch-based, plant food vegan diet.
While many would argue that a plant-based diet is automatically deficient in amino acids, that’s not the case. The idea that plants contain incomplete proteins is a myth based on a misunderstanding.
A 2002 publication in the American Heart Association Journals describes the origin of this myth and explains, “it is impossible to design an amino acid-deficient diet based on the amounts of unprocessed starches and vegetables sufficient to meet the calorie needs of humans. Furthermore, mixing foods to make a complementary amino acid composition is unnecessary.”
You won’t end up protein-deficient on a vegan plant-based diet if you eat enough Calories. If it’s hard for you to eat a sufficient quantity of vegetables, a plant-based protein powder loaded with a blend of veggies will make a great addition to your meals.
2. Soy is a questionable protein source
Focusing on plant-based, soy-free vegan protein will prevent you from eating heavily processed soy. Consuming processed soy, including fake meats and soy protein isolate, has been shown to be harmful to the body.
In addition to being linked to health problems like breast cancer, thyroid impairment, bone loss, and reproductive problems, soy protein raises insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1) levels. A rise in this growth hormone causes rapid growth even for adults. Both dairy and soy raise IGF-1 levels, but soy raises levels significantly higher.
Growth triggered by IGF-1 happens indiscriminately; it accelerates aging and can promote the growth of cancer cells if IGF-1 levels remain high for an extended period of time.
When you’re not attempting to get your protein from soy or dairy products, you’ll avoid unnecessarily raising your IGF-1 levels.
3. The environment will thank you
One of the main reasons people switch to a vegan diet is to make a positive impact on the environment. The Guardian reported that avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your environmental impact.
Raising animals for dairy and meat consumption requires a significant amount of land, water, and food. New research shows that if people stopped consuming meat and dairy products, the amount of global farmland could be reduced by over 75% and still feed the entire world.
According to statistics reported by the Guardian, the meat and dairy industry use 83% of farmland and produce 60% of all agricultural greenhouse gases.
Switching to plant-based nutrition is a fast way to stop contributing to one of the biggest environmental crises on planet Earth. If everyone traded steaks and cheese for potatoes and veggies, they’d not only get perfect nutrition, but we’d see a drastic decline in freshwater use, water pollution, air pollution, and more.
4. Vegan protein is affordable
Believe it or not, potatoes can provide complete nutrition, including protein. Next to rice, potatoes are probably one of the most affordable foods you can find. Even at high-end grocery stores, an organic red potato will cost you about fifty cents.
Back in 1925, an experiment was performed on two healthy adults. A 25-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman. Both lived on a diet of mainly white potatoes for 6 months. Additional foods like some fats, fruits, coffee, and tea were provided to supplement the diet.
By the end of the study, both subjects were still physically active and in good health. They derived their protein solely from potatoes. Other similar studies have confirmed the same results.
You don’t need to get your protein from only potatoes. Other vegan sources of protein are equally affordable like beans, legumes, and other non-potato vegetables.
5. Vegan protein is tasty
Perhaps the best reason to switch to vegan protein is the taste. You can buy vegan protein powder or source your protein from whole foods. Either way, you won’t need to doctor up your food with loads of sauces and salt just to make it taste good.
Throw a little fruit in the blender with your vegan protein shake or add a little seasoning to your vegetables. Enjoying a protein-rich vegan meal is that simple!