Plant protein vs red meat, which food is best for you?

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

New research hot off the press this month from Harvard University and published in the journal Circulation (1) shows that when testing diets high in plant protein compared to those high in red meat the plant protein groups resulted in lower blood lipid levels (1) such as cholesterol. ‘Every 1.0 mmol/L reduction in LDL-C (bad cholesterol) is associated with a corresponding 20 – 25% reduction in CVD mortality and non-fatal MI (heart attack)’ which means making this simple swap can save lives in the battle against the worlds biggest killer - cardiovascular disease (3).

So why is there this improvement when munching plant proteins? Well looking at the two groups, plant proteins contain no cholesterol, less saturated and trans fats while incorporating more mono and polyunsaturated. If that’s not enough red meat lacks the fiber, polyphenols (a type of anti-oxident) and other bioactive compounds the plant products naturally contain (4). Apart from the improved lipid levels we chatted about earlier, this would ‘aid in weight loss/maintenance, enhance glycemic control and insulin regulation, reduce blood pressure, improve vascular health and decrease inflammation, thereby lowering CHD risk’ (4).

So what does this mean for your weekly munch schedule? It’s all about including quality plant protein sources which means whole foods - nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and soy are great shouts. If you eat meat maybe it’s worth reducing it slightly by swapping it for these foods or making that meat-free Monday a meat Monday and having the rest of the week veggie. If you already eat vegan or veggie then consider whether the protein sources you consume are high quality.

What plant proteins do you enjoy and what could you do to swap it for red meat?

For a look at the top sources of plant proteins check out our previous post on the topic: https://www.instagram.com/p/BthGhVHgIAr/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

As always, don’t take our word for it, read up on the evidence below:


(1) Guasch-Ferré, M., Satija, A., Blondin, S., Janiszewski, M., Emlen, E., O’Connor, L., Campbell, W., Hu, F., Willett, W. and Stampfer, M., 2019. Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of Red Meat Consumption in Comparison With Various Comparison Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Circulation, 139(15), pp.1828-1845.

(2) Mihaylova, B., Emberson, J., Blackwell, L., Keech, A., Simes, J., Barnes, E.H., Voysey, M., Gray, A., Collins, R. and Baigent, C., 2012. The effects of lowering LDL cholesterol with statin therapy in people at low risk of vascular disease: meta-analysis of individual data from 27 randomised trials.

(3) World Health Organization. The global burden of disease: 2004 update. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2008. Available at: http:// www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/2004_ report_update/en/.

(4) Hu FB. Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview.Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 78(3 suppl):544S–551S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.544S


Satija, A., Bhupathiraju, S.N., Spiegelman, D., Chiuve, S.E., Manson, J.E., Willett, W., Rexrode, K.M., Rimm, E.B. and Hu, F.B., 2017. Healthful and unhealthful plant-based diets and the risk of coronary heart disease in US adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70(4), pp.411-422.

This information is in no way a replacement for medication or advice from your doctor, when making significant changes to your diet please consult you GP. This knowledge is simply provided by our non-profit organisation to empower you with up to date information to allow informed decision making about what to buy in the shops and fundamentally to prevent disease.