Difference Between Animal and Plant Protein

About 20% of the human body is made up of protein. But since our bodies don’t store protein, it’s important to get enough from your diet each day. You can get protein from many food sources of plant and animal origin.

In this article, we will examine the comparison of animal and plant proteins;

Amino Acid Profile Varies Between Plant and Animal Proteins. When protein is eaten, it breaks down into amino acids. Proteins and amino acids are used for almost every metabolic process in the body. However, different proteins can vary greatly in the types of amino acids they contain. While animal proteins tend to contain a good balance of all the amino acids we need, some plant proteins are low in certain amino acids.

For example, some essential plant proteins are often low in methionine, tryptophan, lysine and isoleucine.


Although the amount and type of each amino acid varies depending on the protein source, all proteins are made up of amino acids.

In total, there are about 20 amino acids that the human body uses to build protein. These amino acids are classified as essential or non-essential. Your body can produce nonessential amino acids. However, it cannot produce essential amino acids that must be obtained through your diet. For optimal health, your body needs all essential amino acids in the right proportions.

Animal protein sources such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are similar to the protein found in your body. They are considered complete protein sources as they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to function effectively.

In contrast, plant protein sources such as beans, lentils, and nuts are considered deficient because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids your body needs. Some sources report that soy protein is complete. However, soy contains only small amounts of the two essential amino acids, so it cannot be compared to animal protein.


Animal foods are the highest quality protein sources. Plant sources lack one or more amino acids, making it difficult for you to get all the amino acids your body needs.

Some nutrients are more abundant in animal protein sources. Foods containing animal protein tend to be high in a variety of nutrients that are often lacking in plant foods.

These include:

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is mainly found in fish, meat, poultry, and dairy products. Many people who avoid animal foods are deficient.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is found in oily fish, eggs, and dairy products. Some plants contain it, but the type found in animal foods is better used by your body.

DHA: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 oil found in oily fish. It is important for brain health and is difficult to obtain from plant sources.

Iron: Iron is predominantly found in meat, especially red meat. It is much better absorbed in the body than non-heme iron in plant foods.

Zinc: Zinc is mainly found in animal protein sources such as beef, pork, and lamb. It is also more easily absorbed and used than animal protein sources.

Natural plants also contain an abundance of nutrients that are devoid of animal foods. Therefore, eating balanced amounts of both is the best way to get all the nutrients you need.


Animal protein sources are higher in some nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acid DHA, heme-iron and zinc.

In Protection Against Weight Gain,

Diets rich in plant protein can also help you control your weight.

Also, eating one serving of beans, chickpeas, lentils or peas a day can increase your satiety and lead to better weight management and aid weight loss.

For meat eaters, it’s important to strike the right balance between both animal and plant foods.

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