6 Benefits of Plant-Based Protein
The idea of eating plant-based meat is nothing new. We’ve seen 30-day challenges and “Meatless Monday” trends sensationalized across the internet over the past several years for a variety of reasons. However, beyond the flashiness of a new diet, starting a plant-based diet can have a number of benefits, which may explain why so many people are jumping off bandwagon trends and seriously considering making this a more permanent lifestyle change.
So, if the novelty of these trends have worn off and you find yourself wondering what exactly the benefits of plant-based meat are, read on to learn more! Don’t know what plant-based meat is and why it’s a good protein source? Our experts are here to explain. We’re breaking down some of the top benefits that going meatless with plant based food, even part-time, can have for you personally and for the greater good.
Health Benefits of Plant Based Nutrition Sources
Perhaps the most cited reason for switching to plant-based protein sources is that it is a healthier alternative to animal meat. But what exactly does healthier mean? In truth, this statement can mean many different things to people depending on what their primary health concerns are.
Decreased Risk of Disease
Several studies have found that not only does consuming red meat increase your risk of certain diseases but opting for plant-based proteins instead can help reduce your risk. More specifically, and perhaps one of the most widely touted benefits of plant-based proteins, making this transition has been found to mitigate the risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as cardiac arrest and coronary artery disease.
However, and most interestingly, receiving these benefits doesn’t require a significant and drastic change to your lifestyle and diet. According to research published by The BMJ, those who ate just 3 percent more food containing plant proteins per day reduced their risk for death by 5 percent. So, your Meatless Mondays might be making a much greater impact than you thought!
Managing Blood Sugar
Type 2 Diabetes is an increasingly prevalent health concern across the U.S. and has many people struggling to manage their blood sugar. Thankfully, new research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that a plant-based diet can help manage blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, two critical components of living with Diabetes. In particular, the study found that a diet higher in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant-rich plant foods and lower in red and processed meats had a “protective” association against the development of Type 2 Diabetes. However, the research doesn’t recommend cutting out healthier animal products, such as organic eggs and lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, and pork. This is a crucial finding of the research, especially for those who may not be ready to undergo a full transition to plant-based eating.
Closely related to the reduced risk of heart disease, consuming plant-based protein can also help lower your cholesterol. It’s no secret that red meat and animal proteins have long been associated with increased cholesterol levels. So, if this is something you struggle with or is a top health concern for you, transitioning to plant-based quality protein could be a smart move on your part.
That said, cholesterol isn’t inherently bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to build cells, make vitamins, and produce other hormones. It only becomes a problem when there is too much of this waxy substance present in your body. This build-up can combine with other substances, resulting in a thick, hard deposit that accumulates on the inside of the arteries. This can increase your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular concerns like blood clots.
There are many reasons someone might want to lose weight, from a desire to feel more comfortable to a need to mitigate associated health risks. Whatever the reason, switching to plant-based protein can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Generally speaking, diets high in protein are closely associated with maintaining a healthy weight and contributing to weight loss. This is likely due to the effect of protein and its ability to make you feel fuller for longer thanks to its regulation of hunger hormones. In addition, plant-based protein can compound these effects as many sources of plant protein are naturally lower in calories than animal protein, and maintaining a calorie deficit is closely associated with sustained weight loss.
While the benefits of plant-based protein may be noteworthy, they are not the only results of shifting away from or eliminating animal protein from your diet. There are other benefits that can positively impact our environment with just this simple change.
Reduced Environmental Impact
One of the most significant benefits of cutting out animal protein is the reduced environmental impact your consumption will have. A plant-based diet has been linked to preserving water resources, maintaining the diversity of plant and animal species, and decreasing the prevalence of greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide. More specifically, these effects are closely tied to a reduction in factory farming when more consumers (like you!) choose to eat more plant-based protein sources. In fact, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows are collectively the largest methane producers in the U.S.
Compassion for Animals
Similarly, a reduction in factory farming always has the added benefit of being more compassionate to the animals that would have otherwise been raised for consumption. For some, this benefit is the primary reason they have chosen to transition to a plant-based lifestyle, while for others, it is a nice bonus.
Sources of Plant-Based Protein
When making the transition to plant-based protein, it is important to understand that most foods have some amount of protein in them. However, certain foods are richer in this macronutrient than others. Some of the top plant based protein sources include:
- Almond Butter
- Black Beans
- Chia Seeds
- Green Peas
- Hemp Seeds
- Kidney Beans
- Nutritional Yeast
- Pumpkin Seeds
At Meatless Farm, our plant-based products get their 17 grams of protein (or more!) per serving from the highest quality pea, soy, and rice proteins. Learn more about how plant-based meat is made in our recent blog post.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Whether you choose to follow a meat-based diet or transition to a plant-based one, protein is an essential nutrient used throughout the entire body. As a primary component of nearly every cell in your body, protein is used to build muscle, repair tissues, and produce essential biochemicals like enzymes and hormones. However, protein is unique from other macronutrients like carbohydrates or fat because your body doesn’t store protein. In other words, you must regularly consume protein through your diet and the foods you eat in order to have sufficient levels of this essential nutrient. But with that said, how much protein do you actually need in your daily diet?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the average adult should consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight, or 0.35 grams per pound. For example, an individual weighing 153 pounds would need to consume at least 53.5 grams of protein per day. However, this is just a minimum recommendation. If you are trying to build muscle mass, lose weight, or exercise regularly, your body may require more protein – something in the range of 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight may be more appropriate.
As you can see, the benefits of plant-based protein are numerous. Whether you are trying to improve your health or want to make the world a better place, you can make a significant impact by making just a few minor adjustments to your lifestyle and diet. Not sure how to start a plant-based diet? Check out our top tips to transition to a plant-based diet and our 6 plant-based lunch ideas.