Muscle and myth: Animal vs plant protein

I haven’t shared anything about nutrition for humans for a long time now.

Recently, I came across a theory (verified by a trusted friend-pharmacist-nutritionist) that humans with O blood group should eat meat (high protein) and those with A blood group should be vegetarians (high carbohydrates). The theory is really very interesting. It talks about how the O blood group are the “oldest” humans and these evolved into the A group, then B and finally, AB (the most evolved and “modern” humans).

So, are you an ancient human or a modern human?

I’m very ancient!

So I started researching on protein – is there a difference between plant protein and animal protein? And how is egg classified? 

The short answer is: Egg is classified under meat protein. So, yay – at least we can rely on egg.  If you go for free-range eggs where the chickens are never slaughtered (and I personally only know of one brand here – my friend, Ivan’s Kampung Harvest)), you get the protein you need for your O blood group without having to be part of the chain of slaughter. Otherwise, many other commercialised free-range eggs come from farms where eventually, the poor hens are still sent to slaughter (economically unviable to maintain them, they say).

My next question was: Is there a difference between plant protein and animal protein? Aren’t they all ultimately just amino acids? I think some pet parents may be interested in this too because some petfood is made of plant protein and we know that dogs and cats need more protein than us humans. The ancestral diet of dogs and cats is, of course, animal protein. One would definitely not see a wolf or wild cat munching on grass like a cow. But nowadays, some petfood is made primarily of plant protein, so is this suitable?

To answer this question, my trusted friend shared this article: https://www.lesmills.com/fit-planet/nutrition/animal-vs-plant-protein/  

The article is written by a professor with a PhD in nutritional biochemistry with an interest in the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles.

So the bottom line is, YES, there is a difference. The difference is in the digestion and hence, the metabolism of the proteins.

We humans need all 20 of the amino acids that make up proteins, but these differ between animal and plant foods. Animal foods generally contain “complete” proteins, while plant foods are often made of “incomplete” proteins. A complete protein contains all of the nine “essential” amino acids – the ones that cannot be made inside the body, so must be consumed.

Although all the amino acids are necessary, the remaining 11 can be either sourced from food or manufactured inside the body. While plant foods may still have all the essential amino acids, the levels tend to vary. Also, plant proteins are generally harder to digest and are absorbed more slowly.

These differences affect our metabolism.

However…

…higher consumption of protein from plant sources (including breads, cereals, pasta, beans, nuts and legumes) improved longevity. The health effects of protein-rich plant foods may come down to specific benefits from the combinations of amino acids within each food type, although it is likely the full nutritional mix of plant foods is also important. Plant foods also have healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and dietary fiber – a healthy cocktail of ingredients.

His last paragraph sums it all up:

The debate about meat and health will continue for many years. But in the meantime, a healthy omnivorous diet should aim to have red meat no more than three times a week, with fish and poultry making up the other meals. Try a meat-free meal on occasions, using the tips above.

Hope this helps you make a better decision for your own nutritional needs and that of your beloved pets.

And what is right for cats then? https://dogsfirst.ie/raw-faq/what-do-cats-eat/

And for dogs? https://dogsfirst.ie/raw-faq/what-do-dogs-eat/

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