The Plants vs. Animals Debate

Learn how having a variety of foods is the best way to maintain optimal health. Find out why consuming animal protein is essential. Discover how you need both plants and animals to achieve optimal gut health. See how Tolleson Health Advisors is here to help you learn what to eat and what supplements to take for optimal health.


Food is a vital part of our culture, and we consistently obsess over it, particularly when it comes to diets. An ideal diet promotes health, longevity, and disease prevention, but there is much debate over what that ideal diet looks like.

It seems as if every other week, a new diet trend emerges, from Atkins and Keto to Vegan and Paleo. Many of these diets focus on restricting specific food categories, like grains, dairy, or meat. However, one of the biggest diet arguments is perhaps the long-running plants vs. animals debate. Keep reading to find out my take on the plants versus animals debate.

Plant-Based or Meat Based

You are likely already reasonably familiar with the concept of plant-based diets. Some people interpret plant-based diets as avoiding all animal products, for example, vegan diets. Others interpret plant-based diets mainly on plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, but may occasionally consume fish or dairy products.

You may be less familiar with meat-based diets; particularly a new diet called the carnivore diet. This meat-based diet is focused on eating the entire animal, including muscles, organs, bones, marrow, and cartilage. Generally, fish, eggs, ghee, and dairy are acceptable in this meat based diet. Additionally, 10% to 20% of a person’s diet may also come from low-toxicity plants.

Plants vs. Animals Protein

Protein is an integral part of every cell in the human body. It is necessary for certain body functions, things like immune system response, and playing a crucial role in growth and development.

Dietary protein comprises organic compounds called amino acids, which can come from both plants and animals. Nine different amino acids are referred to as essential because our bodies can’t make them; we have to get them from the food we eat. So the big question is, which is best, plant protein or animal protein?

It turns out that you can get all of the essential amino acids from plants and animals, but they come in much more potent and effective doses in animal protein.  The amount of plants you would have to eat to get all of the essential amino acids found in just 2 oz of grass-fed steak is almost comical.

If you look through Instagram, you see very accurate but very deceptive pictures like these.  How can these both be true?!  Does broccoli really have more protein than steak?  

Absolutely not! To get 100 calories of broccoli, you would have to eat almost 4 cups of it.  That does not get me excited.  For one, my wife is excited that she doesn’t have to sleep next to someone who has just eaten 4 cups of broccoli! 

On the flip side, I could get the same amount of protein, with ALL of the essential amino acids in proper ratios, eat just one tiny ounce of grass-fed steak.  But who wants to eat only one ounce!  So maybe it’s a bit more than 100 calories, so what! If you are creeping through life concerned about calories, you have it all wrong.

Plants vs. Animals Gut Health

Why should you pay attention to your gut health? Your gut, including your colon, liver, stomach, and intestines, have a significant impact on your overall health. A healthy gut contributes to heart health, brain health, a robust immune system, and much more. So when it comes to gut health, which is better, a plant-based diet or an animal-based diet?

To achieve optimal gut health, you need both. Why? Because your gut is made of different organs, and each of these organs has a primary fuel source. If we’re talking about the colon, the place where most digestion takes place, the primary fuel source is butyrate, best made from plants, although one could reasonably argue against that statement. However, if we’re talking about the intestines, where amino acids are key, and animal products provide amino acids in the right amount.

Would I do a meat-based diet long term?

Not only would I, but I am seriously considering it.  However, it would include some fruit and vegetables.  It would look like this:

  • A small amount of root vegetables and tubers.
  • Avocados.
  • Plenty of mashed sweet potatoes or pumpkin puree in the evenings.
  • Full fat, organic and grass-fed yogurts.
  • Butter and ghee
  • Organic, cold-pressed olive oil and the occasional avocado oil.
  • Raw, organic honey.
  • Fresh herbs to prepare the meat.
  • Small amounts of seasonal fruit, especially blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
  • Teas and coffees.
  • Primarily grass-fed and grass-finished red meats, with occasional poultry and low mercury fish.
  • A high-quality grass-fed organ supplement daily, like from Heart and Soil, to make up for my distaste for organ meats. (use code tolleson10 to save).
  • Occasional seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes when appropriately prepared by soaking and sprouting.
  • A powerhouse greens powder like Athletic Greens provides the essential phytonutrients without all of the fiber and potential for gut distress.
  • 14-18 hours of fasting every single day to keep mTor activation low. (look it up if you don’t know!)
  • A 72 hour fast every 12 weeks.

I won’t say that I would never consume something like a chocolate chip cookie though, a dude still needs his cookie every once in a while!

At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. Having a variety of foods is the best way to maintain optimal health. Learning what to eat and what supplements to take can be overwhelming and confusing. We are all different, and that’s why Tolleson Health Advisors is here to provide support and guidance.

Are you ready to discover what optimal health looks like for you? I am giving away a free personalized supplement plan to anyone that wants it.  Schedule your complimentary 20-minute call with me so I can learn more about what you should and should not be taking.


  • An ideal diet is one that promotes health, longevity, and disease prevention.
  • Both plants and animals can provide the protein you need, but it is a better practice to consume high-quality animal products for protein.
  • To achieve optimal gut health, you need both plants and animals.
  • Having a variety of foods is the best way to maintain optimal health.
  • Tolleson Health Advisors is here to help you learn what to eat and what supplements to take for optimal health.