What's The Deal With Protein?

Did you know that the amount of people following a vegan lifestyle has increased by 360% in the past 10 years. That’s pretty cool, in fact that’s really cool. But did you know that 91% of the population are still meat eaters? Which you know what, that's cool too. At pollen, we get asked quite often ‘what we are’ - as in, are we vegan, or veggie or meat? And the answer is never too straightforward, because we’re a little bit of everything. Just like team Pollen… we have vegans, veggies, pescatarians and meat eaters - and even those of us who do eat meat don’t want to eat meat every day, for every meal. Yet we also know people who don’t see a meal as complete without meat. So that’s what we are, an option for everyone. 

But the whole ‘what source of protein is the best source’ question is one that comes around quite often. Veganism is truly on the rise, and people are forgoing meat for plant-based protein much more often, yet there's no denying that meat is still a great source of protein. I guess the easy answer would be that they're both good for you - what’s more important is the quality of the protein source, and balancing the protein with carbs and fats. 

We spoke with our naturopath to get her take, and she explained that so long as they are complete proteins, containing all nine of the amino acids that our bodies cannot produce, then it’s purely personal choice as to whether plant based or animal protein takes the top choice. 

So what proteins contain these amino acids? Any meat, fish and eggs do the job, as do quinoa, buckwheat, tempeh, hemp and chia seeds on the plant based front. Nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains are incomplete proteins (they don’t contain all the amino acids) but if you eat a combination, then they’re a great source too - take hummus for example: chickpeas + tahini = good to go. But of course it doesn’t stop there - with plant based protein, it’s important to look for non GMO, organic varieties, and take extra measures such as soaked your nuts and legmes to make them easier on digestion. And of course we know that not all meat is equal. As weird as it sounds, view meat as you do your gym membership, or your beauty products - it’s an investment in your health, and usually if you pay a little more (for the grass fed/organic titles) then you’re likely to get a better product. 

Another important factor? Knowing your body. We were recently discussing in HQ the concept that your blood type can affect what your body likes and doesn’t. Whilst the idea probably isn’t for everyone, it did make us realise how much we ‘know’ our bodies. For example some people have no issues digesting legumes but meat is a no go, whereas others are totally fine with meat but just the idea of chickpeas makes them bloated. It’s important to know what works for you, and stick with it - whilst some swear by paleo, others also swear by veganism, and whilst the trends will come and go, you’re stuck with your body for a while, so that’s probably the best thing to get to know. So the best piece of advice we can give on the whole ‘which source of protein is best scenario’? You do you. And so long as you’re choosing a high quality, natural source of protein then both plant-based and animal are good.