Protein is a macronutrient that we need to consume each day in large amounts. But there are two types of protein: animal and plant. Both types of protein can be consumed in either food or supplement form. The most popular animal-based protein supplements are whey and casein. The most popular plant-based protein supplements are hemp and pea. In the fitness world, whey protein has been the most popular protein supplement. However, plant-based proteins are continuing to close the gap on whey protein – for several reasons.
If you have a fitness goal in mind, then you’re likely going to need a protein supplement. But which protein supplement should you choose? Here, we’re going to look at the two types of protein and which one is a better option to fulfill your protein needs.
Animal-based proteins – whey and casein – come from cow’s milk. They’re both by-products of the cheese-making process. Whey protein was first discovered around 5,500 B.C. when cheese-making was first developed. In the last hundred years or so, whey has been commercialized and sold in a protein powder form. Casein is significantly less popular than whey in protein form. But casein is also used to manufacture glues, paints and plastics.
On the other hand, plant-based proteins obviously come from plants – one way or another. Typically, plant-based proteins come from grinding seeds or peas into a fine powder form. It’s a fairly simple process that requires significantly less water, power and space than raising cows for protein.
Why Are Plant-Based Proteins Taking Over?
As our civilization continues to advance, more people are realizing that animals suffer a great deal solely for the pleasure of humans. Sometimes humans justify this as a result of being on top of the food chain. But, more commonly, people are considering things like milking cows as a form of animal cruelty.
Ultimately, mothers produce milk for one single reason: to nourish their babies. It makes no difference whether the mother is an animal, like a cow, or a human. The purpose of her milk is to feed her young.
However, the milk of dairy cows isn’t used to feed the cows babies. Because it has to be commercialized and sold to generate profits. When a cow gives birth, her young is immediately taken from her at just one day old. The calf is then fed ‘milk replacement’ so that a human can drink the milk that was meant for the calf.
Female cows are continuously artificially inseminated. They begin being artificially inseminated around their first birthday. Once the cow gives birth, they naturally lactate for about 10 months. Then they are artificially inseminated again. This cycle continues for about four to five years.
Normally, a cow lives a natural life of around 20 years. In a normal life, a cow can produce milk for up to nine years. However, cows that live in captivity on dairy farms only produce milk for up to five years. The drastic reduction of milk production is widely attributed to the stress that a cow suffers from on a dairy farm. Once the cows are unable to produce milk, they’re sent off to be slaughtered.
We’ve covered other related topics before, like the baby cows that are slaughtered for veal and the destruction that raising farm animals causes the environment – so I won’t dive into that here.
The Human Body Isn’t Designed for Cow’s Milk
Think about this: humans are the only species that drink milk throughout their entire lives. Milk is designed to provide nutrients to the young. But it’s not meant to be consumed throughout the entire life of any animal.
I realize that it might seem strange reading this. Because most of us were raised to believe that we needed milk to grow up strong. But research indicates that the human body actually resists cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is designed for the nutritional needs of calves. Calves can grow to around 1,000 pounds in just two years.
Because cow’s milk isn’t designed for the needs of humans – it often has an adverse effect. In particular, children begin to develop allergies to milk at around two years old. This is because the human body natural produces less lactase around this age. Lactase is what helps us digest milk, but our bodies are designed to stop producing it. It’s estimated that between 65 to 95% of adults will develop an allergy to milk, or milk products like whey. This causes conditions such as bloating, gas and cramps.
As fewer people drink milk and use milk-based products like whey – they look for alternatives. Which is another reason why plant-based protein are becoming more popular. Since no chemicals or additives are used to create plant-based proteins, they’re easily digested and allergy-free.
The Performance of Animal and Plant Proteins
Achieving a fitness goal – whether it’s gaining muscle or losing weight – requires an increase in protein consumption. We’re asked fairly regularly about the differences between animal-based protein and plan-based protein. There’s a myth out there that causes many people to believe that plant-based proteins are inferior to animal-based proteins.
We suspect this myth stems from the general popularity of animal-based proteins. However, we debunked it a while back when we wrote this article comparing pea protein to whey protein. Essentially, the fitness industry heavily markets ‘protein per serving’. But when you compare equal serving sizes, whey protein and pea protein are actually very comparable. In fact, pea protein has a slightly higher amount of protein per serving. This is because protein contains a high amount of protein – at 80% per serving. At 12 grams of protein to one gram of carbs, it’s ideal for weight loss and muscle building.
Which Type of Protein is Right for You?
So, there are two types of protein – but if you can only choose one… Which type would you choose? The type that unnecessarily causes cows to be held in captivity, artificially inseminated repeatedly for years, then slaughtered? The same kind that is likely to cause your body to suffer from bloating and fatigue because it was intended for calves instead of humans?
Or will you consume plant-based proteins? The proteins that are found naturally in nuts, seeds, grains and beans. Otherwise known as the foods that nature intended for us to eat. In our estimation, the answer is clear: why would anyone choose animal-based proteins over plant-based proteins?