The debate over whether animal-based proteins surpass their plant-based counterparts is a myth that warrants examination. Per a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, the human body relies on approximately 20 different amino acids to assemble proteins. While some amino acids can be produced by the body, nine are deemed essential, meaning that they must be obtained through the diet. Therefore, the quality of a protein is often evaluated based on its essential amino acid composition. Animal-based proteins are known for being complete proteins containing all essential amino acids, thus granting them a perceived superiority. However, the study explains that this completeness comes with a trade-off, as these sources (with the exception of fish and lean meats) are frequently linked to higher saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
In contrast, while proteins from plant sources are deemed incomplete, lacking one or two essential amino acids, combining a variety of plant-based foods, such as nuts, grains, and legumes, ensures the intake of all essential amino acids with a reduced saturated fat and cholesterol intake (via Healthline). Additionally, certain plant foods like Ezekiel bread, quinoa, buckwheat, spirulina, soybeans, nutritional yeast, chia seeds, and hemp seeds offer complete protein profiles, dispelling the myth of plant-based proteins being inferior to their animal-based counterparts. Moreover, per the site, research suggests that those who follow a vegetarian diet often exhibit lower body weight, reduced cholesterol levels, and a decreased risk of stroke, cancer, and heart disease-related deaths compared to meat-eaters.