If you are just as confused as I was about amino acids in plants and proteins in animal products, you’re in luck today. I found the best analogy to explain the differences. Now when anyone asks you where do you get your protein (if you’re vegan or vegetarian of course), your answer can be simple to grasp for just about anyone. Read on.
What the heck are amino acids?
Every protein molecule consists of a chain of amino acids. An essential amino acid is one that cannot be produced by the body, and therefore must be supplied as part of the diet. Humans must include adequate amounts of 9 amino acids in their diet.
Where do I get my protein?
Being aware of the misinformation created by the meat and dairy industry, I understand why this became such a popular question. Since most people are not aware that greens have an abundance of readily available essential amino acids, they are trying to eat from other food groups known for their rich protein content. However, there’s a huge difference between complex proteins found in meat, dairy, fish, etc. and individual amino acids, found in fruits, vegetables, and especially in greens.
It is clear that the body has to work a lot less when creating protein from the assortment of individual amino acids from greens, rather than the already combined, long molecules of protein, assembled according to the foreign pattern of a totally different creature such as a cow or chicken. This is one of the main reasons why vegans and specially raw vegans have an abundant supply of energy throughout the day in comparison to those who eat cooked foods and animal products.
In the book ‘Green For Life’, Victoria Boutenko wrote a great anecdote to explain in layman’s terms, the difference between complex proteins (animal) and individual amino acids (plant-based):
“Imagine that you have to make a wedding dress for your daughter. Consuming the complex proteins we get from animals is like going to the second hand store, and buying many other people’s used dresses, coming home and spending several hours ripping apart pieces of the dresses that you like and combining them into a new dress for your daughter. This alternative will take a lot of time and energy and will leave a great deal of garbage. You could never make a perfect dress this way.
Consuming individual amino acids is like taking your daughter to a fabric store to buy beautiful new fabric, lace, buttons, ribbons, threads, and pearls. With these essential elements you can make a beautiful dress that fits her unique body perfectly. Similarly, when you eat greens, you “purchase” new amino acids, freshly made by sunshine and chlorophyll, which the body will use to rebuild its parts accoding to your own DNA.
With Complex Proteins (animal) Your body would have a hard time trying to make a perfect molecule of protein out of someone else’s molecules, which consist of totally different combinations of amino acids. Plus your body would most likely receive a lot of unnecessary pieces that are hard to digest. These pieces would be floating around in your blood like garbage for a long time, causing allergies and other health problems.
Professor W.A. Walker from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, states that, ‘Incompletely digested protein fragments may be absorbed into the bloodstream. The absorption of these large molecules contributes to the development of food allergies and immunological disorders.’
The ironic result of consuming this imperfect source of protein, (animal protein), is that many people develop deficiencies in essential amino acids. Such deficiencies are not only dangerous to health, but they dramatically change people’s perception of life and the way people feel and behave.
The body, in producing neurotransmitters, uses some essential amino acids, like tyrosine, tryptophan, glutamine, histamine, and others. Neurotransmitters are the natural chemicals that facilitate communication between brain cells. These substances govern our emotions, memory, moods, behavior, learning abilities, and sleep patterns. For the last three decades, neurotransmitters have been the focus of mental health research.”
Doesn’t this make it crystal clear on how different it is to get our protein source from animals and plants? I loved her perspective and highly recommend her book (Green for Life found in my Books Page).