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Plant proteins and animal proteins have different health effects, environmental impacts and sustainability

Plant and animal proteins

Environmental impacts and sustainability:

Compared with animal protein, plant protein has obvious advantages in environmental protection and sustainability. For example, the production of 1 kilogram of soy protein isolate emits 2.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the environment, while the production of the same amount of beef protein emits 178 kilograms!

Other animal proteins, such as chicken and pork, also have far higher greenhouse gas emissions than soy. It takes 8 square meters of cultivated land for one year to produce 1 kilogram of soy protein isolate, while beef protein takes up 1,311 square meters!

In the past few years, the burning of the Amazon rainforest, Australian fires, high summer temperatures in Europe, melting of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers, etc., have made more and more people realize the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions!

How do we get enough protein in our diet? Here are some specific recommendations regarding protein intake:

1. Sufficient amount

Different people have different protein needs. Generally, adults need 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, and the elderly need to increase it to 1.2 grams or even higher; children of different ages have different needs for protein: children aged 3-5 years old need 30 grams of protein per day. 35 grams for 6 years old, 40 grams for 7-8 years old, 45 grams for 9 years old, 50 grams for 10 years old. 14-18 years old is the period with the greatest demand for protein. Boys need 75 grams per day, and girls need 60 grams. The sick population needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis. The human body’s demand for protein is not set for a certain protein. Therefore, whether it is mainly animal protein or plant protein, you should consume a sufficient amount of protein.

2. Match

Diversified sources of protein help ensure that the body gets the various amino acids it needs through complementation. For example, grain protein has a relatively low lysine content, soy protein has less sulfur-containing amino acids, while whey protein has a high leucine content, etc. Emphasizing the diversity of protein sources is actually the application and manifestation of dietary diversity in protein. For example, the combination of plant protein and animal protein; the combination of a variety of plant proteins (such as a variety of beans) or a variety of animal proteins (livestock, poultry and fish), etc.

When implementing the “Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents” recommendation of “eating 12 types of foods per day and 25 types of foods per week”, attention should be paid to the combination of foods rich in protein to help achieve a balanced protein nutrition. In some cases, choosing the right source of protein and the right combination is better for health. For example, patients with chronic renal insufficiency need to appropriately reduce their protein intake. Soy protein isolate may be more suitable as a protein source for them due to its advantages in lowering blood lipids, lowering blood pressure, antioxidant and regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism. For the synthesis and recovery of muscles after exercise, mixing soy protein isolate and milk protein in an appropriate proportion is better.

3.Supplement

Dietary factors play a very important role in health. For chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and tumors, dietary factors are the biggest risk factors. But unfortunately, there are still many people who have not formed good dietary habits. For example, the problem of picky eating among children and adolescents is becoming more and more serious. The elderly often fail to proactively make necessary dietary adjustments as they age and reduce their physiological functions, resulting in “hidden malnutrition” such as insufficient protein intake.

Therefore, when balanced and adequate nutrition cannot be achieved through meals, it is necessary to supplement some additional protein.

You can choose soy protein isolate or soy protein isolate mixed with milk protein products to supplement protein. Soy protein isolate has incomparable advantages over animal protein in terms of heart health, lowering blood lipids, lowering blood pressure, delaying the decline of kidney function, and being environmentally friendly. You should consult your doctor or nutritionist about the appropriate amount of supplementation, depending on your own situation. For most protein powder products on the market today, the recommended supplement amount is mostly between 10-20 grams per day.

In short, plant protein is an important source of dietary protein for people. At present, the protein consumed by humans is still mainly from plant sources, especially in Asia and Africa. Although the diet of developed countries in Europe and the United States contains more animal protein than plant protein, in recent years, plant protein has become more and more popular, and a strong dietary “plant style” has spread all over the world. As a country with a long history of plant-based diets and excellent dietary traditions, it is even more significant for us to study and utilize plant proteins.

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