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I often get asked, “How do you get energy with no meat?” What people are implying is: plants can’t give you strength because they don’t have protein.

Many people associate animal protein with strength. This is why it is common for most people in the fitness and bodybuilding community to consume excessive animal-derived products such as meat, dairy, and whey. This has also led to the rise of high protein, low carb diets such as the Paleo Diet. But do you really need to be on a high protein, low carb diet to gain strength? I don’t think so.

Hey, some of the world’s largest and strongest animals like elephants and hippos feed on only plants and fruits. Ever wonder how these animals would have the strength if plant foods really don’t give us (we are also animals) energy?

There is a misconception that only meat can give you strength. But plant protein can actually give you strength (a.k.a. protein) with the added phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that meat does NOT offer. This is particularly important because plants’ phytonutrients have numerous benefits such as fighting inflammation and cancer, reversing aging, and healing our bodies from diseases. This is why plants can give you protein and strength, without aging you. Here are the top 5 reasons why plant protein gives you strength, without aging you:

1. Food is a Packaged Deal

According to Walter Willet, the Chair of Harvard’s nutrition department, food is a packaged deal and one of his top 3 recommendations is that we should emphasize on plant sources of protein rather than animal sources.

Protein is not consumed in isolation; it is usually packaged with fats, carbohydrates, sodium, etc. that may influence long-term health.

Animal products come with artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol, which can lead to aging. Animal foods are also usually low in or devoid of antioxidants and tend to offer concentrated amounts of individual nutrients, like protein or calcium, while being deficient in many others.

In contrast, plants do not contain saturated fats and cholesterol. Plants are also rich in antioxidants and provide a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. These elements are crucial to reversing aging since they have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.

Added bonus: plants foods have a complete amino acid composition, and can give us plenty of strength to exercise and bodybuild.

2. Excessive Plant Protein Gives Us Life, While Animal Protein Ages Us

While animal foods may contain higher concentration of protein, we actually don’t really need that much protein. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5 percent of their calories as protein.

We can meet this daily protein need by eating unrefined starches and vegetables. Even athletes can get more than enough protein in a plant-based diet. As a matter of fact, we are likely to be consuming more protein than we need in most cases. These excessive proteins from animal foods can be taxing on our bodies, and can lead to illnesses down the line, accelerate aging, and leading to premature death.

Excessive protein damages our bones. Excessive proteins cause the kidneys to pull large quantities of calcium from the body, fostering the development of osteoporosis and kidney stones. Excessive protein is also taxing on our liver and kidneys. For people with already damaged livers and kidneys, consuming excessive protein will speed up the processes that lead to complete organ failure.

To heal the kidneys, Dr. John McDougall recommends eating a low-protein diet, especially a diet low in animal proteins. When the protein content of the diet drops, kidneys are strengthened and very often healed.

3. Plant Protein Gives Us Enzymes

Most foods are best eaten raw given the enzymes present in the food. According to Dr. James Costello, our whole body runs on enzymes. Raw foods bursting with enzymes can improve your digestive system, which gives you more strength in workout sessions. Of course, the best source of raw foods are plant foods. You can eat a fruit or salad raw, and check out our mouthwatering raw vegan recipes here.

While raw meat also contain enzymes, the meat is usually contaminated with bacteria, such as E.Coli, fecal bacteria, fish worms. If you are willing to take the risk of food poisoning and tapeworms growing in your body, raw meat isn’t a bad choice.

Otherwise, I’d stick with raw fruits and vegetables, bursting with phytonutrients, fiber and energy, without the added junk animal meat offers.

4. Plant Foods Don’t Contain Cholesterol

Cholesterol is only found in animal products. We make all the cholesterol we need. However, our capacity to eliminate cholesterol is limited.

As a result, the cholesterol accumulated from eating animal foods are stored in our body parts. Cholesterol deposited in our arteries is a major contributor to heart and brain vascular diseases. Cholesterol also facilitates cancer development.

5. Plant foods are Usually Alkalizing

Most plants foods are alkalizing, especially compared to animal foods. Animal protein by nature is acidic. If you overeat acidic animal protein, your body will need to counteract these dietary acids by releasing alkaline materials which weakens your body.

In contrast, plant foods contain phytonutrients which are alkalizing and can balance the acidic effect of animal proteins.Animal foods alone cannot counter balance the aging effect they do on your body. Of course you can add plant sources to your diet to counteract the aging effect.

However, why not consume less, or better yet, steer away from all animal products all together?  Eating plant-based protein is also better for the environment.

Has eating plant-based proteins given you strength and improved your athletic performance without aging you? Leave a comment!

Image source: Openstax College/Wikimedia Commons