Plant-Based vs. Meat

Unsplash - Amber Engle

One of the most divisive topics in the area of nutrition has to be this one: plant-based vs. meat: which is healthier? Maybe you have wondered this too.

It’s really a no-win question though, because both sides have a tremendous amount of nutritional studies and supportive data to argue their cause. Plus, the most important aspect often missing from this debate is always this: what works best for YOU and your body? And isn’t that the only thing that really matters?

While there are obvious differences between these two styles of eating (animal protein), a commonality of these two is that both can be done really well, and both can be done really poorly. While potato chips and highly-processed “fake meat” are vegan, neither are particularly healthy for you. On the other hand, there are many highly processed paleo or keto-friendly edible food-like substances that aren’t great either.

A burger filled with meat and pulled pork.

But just as both of these diets do have differences, the one very important similarity that they have when done well, is that the foundation of both is dependent on whole foods and lots of real, plant foods.

One of my favorite food quotes is from Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Michael Pollan wasn’t suggesting we all go vegan. What he was suggesting is that we eat actual food, and not processed crap. By mostly plants, he means an abundance of plant foods: vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The only real difference between someone eating a healthy and well rounded vegan diet vs someone who chooses to also include animal protein in their diet should be this obvious small addition: animal protein. People choosing to include animal protein in their diet should also have the foundation of an abundance of plant foods as well.

This simply means that we all should make the focus of our diets whole, plant-based foods, regardless of where we sit on the meat issue. And then, we can decide by listening to our bodies, if they would do better with some additional high-quality animal protein or not. Both of these are good choices when done well.

A plate full of pasta with vegetables and a glass of wine

We need to take the identity out of what we eat. I have heard of people who have previously been vegan and because of health reasons, decided to add animal protein to their diets, only to suffer a severe backlash from other vegans. The thing is, what we choose to eat is a very personal issue and when we are tied up in our identity of being a certain style of eater, it discourages us from trying something different or actually listening to our bodies and evolving as we age and adjust to different nutrition requirements.

I encourage you all to make sure that the base of your diet is real, whole, plant foods, regardless of whether you are a meat-eater or not. But do make sure that you are including adequate amounts of high-quality sources of protein, and getting the essential amino acids you need from your diet. Protein is a very important macronutrient and is required for many bodily functions related to the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues. It’s also required to make enzymes, hormones and antibodies, and so much more. Whether you are getting protein from plants or animals, or a combination of both, it’s not a macronutrient group to leave out.

When deciding what type of diet is right for you, make sure you do your research, and always check your sources. Remember that ultimately, you are going to have to do your own “research” by experimenting with your body and drawing your own conclusions from the feedback you get from it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a health professional if you need assistance with tweaking your diet for optimal health.

Hey there! I’m Stacy! I am certified in Holistic Nutrition and even though I am a nutrition nerd, I am actually a foodie at heart. My motto is: Be healthy, but enjoy life — just choose wisely!

In my current accountability practice, I help women take control of their own health through the use of real, whole foods, and assist them in creating (and sustaining) lifelong health habits so they can FINALLY get off that horrible diet-rollercoaster!

When I’m not coaching, eating, or trying out a new recipe, you might catch me hanging out with my amazing 11-yr old daughter, working out (I love barre and spin), or perhaps watching my favorite reality TV program, 90 Day Fiance!

I practice in my hometown of Calgary, AB but because most of my work is done online — I am available for consultations or coaching wherever it is that you happen to call home.

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