Ask any vegetarian how they get their protein without eating meat, and you’re almost guaranteed an eye-roll. After they’ve told you that you don’t need to eat meat to get your protein fix, they’ll probably list out numerous plant-based foods that deliver the protein your body needs. Well, vegetarians are probably rejoicing right now as the rest of the world catches up and realizes that plant-based pro-teins are not only a real thing, but present our planet with a great alternative to meat in a time when our ever-growing population puts it under stress. In fact, there are several reasons to embrace plant protein, whether you decide to ditch the meat or are simply cutting back (in which case, you can now call yourself a Flexitarian!) We are constantly in awe of the power of plants over here at Kashi, so we decided to share some of the benefits of eating plant-based protein.
When thinking about protein sources, it’s good to think about the entire nutritional profile of the food the protein is coming from. In other words, along with protein, what other nutrients does the food provide? When your protein comes from plants, you also get plant-specific nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And let’s not forget fiber -- that wonderful component of all plants that contributes to a well-functioning digestive system!
In fact, a 2017 NCBI article goes as far as to state, “We humans do not need meat. In fact, we are healthier without it, or at least with less of it in our diets. The Adventist Health Studies provide solid evidence that vegan, vegetarian, and low-meat diets are associated with statistically significant increases in quality of life…”
Did you know that 60 billion animals are used for human consumption each year?1 What’s more, current projections show that global demand for animal-derived protein will actually double by 2050!2 And, according to this article, meat and dairy provide only 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein, yet use up 83% of our farmland. This raises several environmental concerns. In addition to the widely held belief that animal based foods themselves produce higher levels of greenhouse gases than plant-based foods, the increased demand for meat will put even more pressure on our land because of the need to produce more animal feed.3 For example, 1 kg of beef requires 15 times as much land as the production of 1 kg of cereals and 70 times as much land as the production of 1 kg of vegetables.4
Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the U.S., China, the European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world!5
This one is a no-brainer, but no discussion of plant protein is complete without mentioning it. Although there is an increase in consumer demand for pasture raised chickens and grass-fed cows, it doesn’t change the fact that, nearly all the animals raised for food in America today spend their lives on factory farms. It all boils down to demand. To keep up with the current demand, animals simply have to be raised in close quarters. If demand doubles by 2050 as predicted, the situation is only going to get more intense.
And if all that’s not enough to convince you that a predominantly plant-based diet is good for you, good for the planet, and great for animals, think about this: The average adult person consumes 80 grams of protein per day – which is around 30 grams more per day then recommended.
Convinced? So are we. In fact we are nuts (and beans and peas ) about getting our protein from plants!