Animal Protein versus Plant Protein

29 May

Raw Avocado Corn Salad over Cooked Beans: 1 cup of cooked white beans contains 16g of protein, 1 cup of raw corn has 5g, 1 cup of avocado 5g and 1 cup of tomatoes 1g.  I only need 33g of protein a day, so just this meal alone would be 6g shy of my goal.

In my community of Holistic Mamas, there are, nutritionally speaking, basically 2 groups of families:

1. Those that believe in and eat organic animal based foods and

2. Those that eat organic plant based foods.

The former tend to follow the WAP Diet (Weston Price Diet: The latter are those who are eating, or lean towards, an all organic vegetarian or vegan diet – especially after watching Forks Over Knives. Now within this latter group, there two further subsets:

a. those who eat a lot of processed and refined foods and

b. those who make most (if not all) their food from scratch.

Among Mamas, there are many discussions as to why their own diets are best. In my view, as you all know, an unprocessed, whole organic plant based diet is best.  Why?


There have been so many studies done to raise awareness as to why (even organic) animal based foods are not health foods. Although animal products have the most similar nutrient composition to our bodies, consuming them promotes disease. I am currently taking Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Course and have learned (or rather relearned from his work in the China Study) that cancer can be turned on and off (from 20% to 5% of total calories) just be increasing and decreasing animal protein in the diet of rats. The same amounts of plant based protein (such as wheat and soy protein) had no such effect. Animal –based foods also contain saturated fats, which cause cholesterol and heart disease. Moreover, animal products cause an acid environment in our bodies, which causes calcium to leak from our bones in an effort for our bodies to neutralize the acids, causing osteoporosis.


Plant based foods, on the other hand, contain essential nutrients not present in animal foods that we need in order to live healthily. Two of these are antioxidants and dietary fiber: antioxidants, like vitamin C, E and carotenoids, bind free radicals that promote cancer and speed up our body’s aging process, and dietary fiber binds to chemical carcinogens and helps the body excrete these potentially harmful products. They help maintain our health and prevent disease.


As I have said before, I understand why people are attracted to refined and processed vegan foods: they do not require much work or energy. We want to be healthy but we don’t want to put that much effort into actually preparing our meals directly from whole foods. We want things EASY. Consider this though: When a fruit or vegetable is 5 days old, it will contain only 40% of it’s original nutrients. How about refined plant foods?

Refined plant foods have been so drastically altered from their natural state and are not consumed, in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s words, “in their totality” and therefore in decreased natural plant material quanitites. Other refined foods are processed foods. They include simple carbohydrates (like, white flours and sugars), hydrogenated oils, genetically modified organisms, anything with fillers, artificial food grade chemicals and additives. Most are ready to eat (like junk food or white bread) or require little cooking (like frozen dinners). They are also anything canned, boxed, bottled and packaged. There is a whole niche market dedicated to serving ready made foods to vegans and vegetarians.


The thing is though, like most things, it requires work on our part to get something really worth anything. Nutrition is no exception. Plant-based whole-foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. They are in their natural state and are not overly processed or altered. Most of the time, you can eat them fresh or they may require some time and attention (like, cleaning, prepping, dressing/marinating, cooking). Dr. T. Colin Campbell states that when we consume foods that have decreased natural plant material, this poses problems for our bodies.


For the average person, 8 – 10% of your total calorie intake is enough.  Surprisingly, professional athletes only need slightly more protein than that.  You can calculate what you need here.


According to my instructor at eCornell University, “As long as we’re eating whole, plant foods – no oils and minimal nuts/seeds.  On average, plant foods are 5-10% fat and about 10% protein.  And, if we’re eating whole foods, rather than processed, we’re getting plenty of complex carbohydrates [and enough protein].”

8 Responses to “Animal Protein versus Plant Protein”

  1. Flora May 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I love eating whole and often raw vegan foods. But the question for me with the animal foods is about teeth care. there seem to be some aspects of teeth care that are supported by those weston price style foods like bone broths and organ meats. I would just LOVE for someone to convince me that a vegan lifestyle, or even one with small amounts of fermented dairy or small amounts of fish, that was largely vegan, was a path that would continue to support my (support needy) teeth and the (so far so good) teeth of my child.

    • Mama In The Kitchen May 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      Good question Flora! I will take this up with my instructor at eCornell and get back to you!!! 😉 Thank you!

    • Mama In The Kitchen May 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

      Flora, thank you for asking this question, as a lot of people do believe in what WAP says about supporting formation of teeth through animal based diets. These are the articles I got from my instructor:


      “Weston Price was a dentist, a dental surgeon who mostly was working in the 10’s, 20’s and 30’s and he was going around the world surveying indigenous peoples when he could find them who had not yet been touched by commercialism. He found about 14 such groups, one case living in the Alps in Switzerland, another group in the Hebrides of Scotland, Polynesian islands, mountains of Peru, in Africa, like the Maasai. He was looking at all these different people and what he measured was their dental caries, he was a dentist, and what he found was that these groups had not yet been touched by the commercial western world and they really had good teeth. That is not surprising. He also talked about their dental arches. They had fuller faces, they looked healthy, he was impressed with their health and as soon as they got access to a port or someplace where there was food being brought in, all of a sudden deficiencies shot up. Then he was making this generalization that that is bad health, and probably I am sure it was, and he was sort of, to some extent inferring a little bit about other diseases also beginning to occur in those circumstances but he didn’t record anything on that point. He did give some evidence on caries. He did all this and so he was arguing that we should go back to the indigenous diet. He said that fish was important and the fishing communities. In some cases, he inferred that animal foods might be important but he also acknowledged that these people, in a lot of cases were living on plant based diets. This foundation in Washington that now exists populated by nonscientists giving these hostile reactions against things that I say or that Dr. McDougall says or Dr. Esselstyn says, they’re really going out there to do everything they can to try to discredit us on any grounds. They’re extremely hostile, rude, and I know they get funding from the agriculture industry, the livestock based agriculture industry. So that is the caveat of it, I’d say. There are people. I mean they really believe, I think, they act like they believe that what we’re saying is wrong. One of their people has written something to say that we should consume as much cholesterol as we can, and it turns out it he happens to be a 24-year-old young guy with no training in nutrition. He writes well, and he makes these outrageous statements like this.”

  2. Trèsors De Luxe May 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    so fascinating…great post! xx ~!

  3. Mel June 7, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Excellent information. My husband and I are vegetarians and we have talked numerous times about going vegan, we just need to bite the bullet. I was wondering if you had some info on pregnancy and being vegan or some info on vegan toddlers?
    I am going to pass this info along to my mother-in-law (who is vegan) she teaches a lifestyle class as it has a lot of great resources!
    I have made several of your recipes and we all have loved them including our 19 month old. Thanks for all of your hard work!

    • Mama In The Kitchen June 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Mel, thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad your 19 month old likes the recipes too! Regarding being pregnant and vegan, have you looked at Karen Ranzi’s book called Creating Healthy Children? If you look under my tab “Mama’s Faves” and go into my Amazon shop, it is listed there under Diet and Nutrition books. Joanna Stevens over at RawMom Blog also has a lot of information. These two examples are on highly raw vegan diets.

    • Mama In The Kitchen July 14, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Hi Mel, have I answered you yet? Have you read my friend’s (Karen Ranzi) book Creating Healthy Children? She has a wealth of information on Raw Vegan toddlers and kids. Thank you for stopping by and I apologize if I haven’t responded to you yet. Best, and wishing you and your family well! Carissa

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