The source of the protein we eat (plant vs. animal) matters to our health because food is a package deal. Plant protein, unlike animal protein, naturally contains healthy nutrients thought to extend our lifespan, significantly reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, boost our immune system, and prevent/treat rheumatoid arthritis. Plant-based diets may also prevent both age-related weight gain and premature puberty (see also here). Gluten is a healthy source of plant protein for 99% of Americans. Beans, including lentils, are another excellent plant protein source. Even processed meat-free “meats” are better for our health than animal protein (see, for example a comparison between chicken and cholesterol-free plant protein chicken). And the new USDA Guidelines (MyPlate) recognize plant protein, including soy, as healthy alternatives to animal protein.
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