• Hahnbee Choi

Plants vs. Zombies

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

All organisms have a metabolic need for protein. Proteins allow the body to carry out many critical metabolic functions such as constructing cells, cell communication, and tissue maintenance and repair. But, the quality and form of protein are essential for the animal to flourish. Canines require a certain amount of amino acids to survive. If these needs are not met, the health of the dog will decline.

There are many options in our modern world to meet these animals' requirements, varying from an ancestral raw food source to a vegan diet. However, to have a canine at optimal health and functioning, nutrients composed mostly of carnivore-based foods will allow dogs to have the most bioavailable nutrients, complete source of protein, and allow for the most natural and ancestral diet. Below, I'll cover the main points on the downsides of feeding a plant protein vs. animals.


While plants do supply a hefty amount of protein, the biological value of these nutrients to dogs is minimal. The digestibility of the protein is critical since it determines the nutrient absorption of the food. When foods with low biological value are fed, such as cereal grains, the nutrients from these foods are minimal and only boost the protein content on the food label and do not provide bioavailable nutrients to the animal itself.

According to Science Direct, zein, which is an industrialized protein from corn commonly used in pet foods such as Purina, tested the bioavailability through "multiple methods such as protein-corrected amino acid scores (PDCAAS), relative protein efficiency ratio (RRER), and relative net protein ratio."

In these tests, zein scored a 0-1 on the digestibility scale. When an ingredient is indigestible, that means the animal that is consuming gains no nutritional benefits. On the other hand, eggs are a complete food for canines. It tested and came out as 100. While plants boost protein content in foods, it does not equate to vegetation being to complete the nutrient requirements of canines that must be filled by high-quality animal products.

Phytic Acid + Anti-nutrients

Phytic acid is one of the many anti-nutrients in grains. Anti-nutrients are natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. There are many anti-nutrients other than phytic acids, such as:

  • Glucosinolates - found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussel sprouts and can prevent the absorption of iodine

  • Lectins - "legumes (beans, peanuts, soybeans), whole grains—can interfere with the absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc".

  • Oxalates - green leafy vegetables and some teas. Binds to calcium and prevents absorption

  • Phytates (phytic acid) - the most common antinutrients found in whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts. Decreases absorption of calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper and interferes with the healthy gut flora

  • Saponins - found in legumes and grains, reduces the absorption of nutrients

  • Tannins - in coffee, tea, and legumes, reduced iron absorption

It is still unknown how much nutrients are prevented from being absorbed adequately due to antinutrients. These antinutrients affect each individual differently depending on metabolism, how the food is prepared, and more. Some antinutrients such as phytic acid and lectins can be reduced with cooking or soaking.

Phytic acid is a phosphorus storage form in plant tissues. This means that the mineral phosphorus is packed into a molecule. Although this molecule has phosphorus, it is not bio-available in the digestive tract because it grabs onto other essential minerals, blocking nutrient absorption. Not only does this steal nutrients away from our dogs, but it also blocks essential enzymes needed to digest food.

Many studies on phytic acid have discovered that phytic acid blocks the absorption of calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper, interferes with the healthy gut flora, which directly impacts the immune system than 80% The immune system lies in the gut. Feeding plant proteins continually prevent proper nutrient absorption as well as disrupts the gut flora, therefore, weakening the immune system. When feeding high-quality animal proteins provides a complete and ancestral source of protein. For example, feeding green tripe provides the animal with digestive enzymes, probiotics, and bioavailable vitamins and minerals, and fatty acids. Tripe also has pre-digested vegetation, if fed unbleached, which can provide antioxidants, polyphenols, micronutrients, and more.

Mother Nature

Mother nature designed canines to be biologically and psychologically designed to eat a variety of nutrients composed of fresh meat, bone, and organ. The digestive system of a plant-eater is very different from a meat-eater. First off, the dentition of canines is not long, large, and wide molars of a horse, cow, or sheep. They are designed to rip, tear, and crush raw meat and bones. As the food moves further down the digestive tract, it goes into the stomach, where it is met by stomach acids to begin digestion.

In a herbivore's stomach, the vegetation it consumed would be met by an alkaline stomach acid with a pH of around 6. While the canine's stomach has a highly acidic stomach with a pH of 1 that is equipped to digest raw meat and destroy any pathogenic bacteria present in the food.

Canines are also equipped with a shorter intestinal system than herbivores to give toxins and pathogens less exposure in the gut. They do not have a slow and long GI tract of a herbivore to breakdown and fully digest the nutrients from high-glycemic plants.


A popular source of plant protein for animals and humans nowadays is soy. Soy and other plants such as legumes, soy, flax, seeds, oats, and cruciferous vegetables are known as phytoestrogens or plant-derived xenoestrogens, also known as phytoestrogens endocrine disruptors.

These are chemicals with the potential to disrupt normal hormonal function. Diets high in phytoestrogens have been shown to show dire effects such as malformations in the ovary, uterus, mammary gland, prostate, early puberty, reduced fertility, and disrupted brain organization, abnormal estrous cycles, altered ovarian function, early reproductive senescence, subfertility & infertility.

"A large volume of literature has been published on phytoestrogens, both for beneficial effects in reducing atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, angiogenesis, diabetes and vasomotor effects (hot flushes) at menopause, and acting as antioxidants, antineoplastics, anti-inflammatories and probiotics and for adverse effects causing infertility in livestock and possible impaired reproductive processes in humans." - Science Direct

GMOs & Glyphosate

GMO foods are becoming more and more prevalent but, unfortunately, damage microbiome, have toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs in animals. Even though GMOs have benefited our agriculture and economy, there are still many unknown dangers in GMOs and products used, such as glyphosate. Glyphosate is the world's #1 used herbicide. It quickens ripening time in plants and prevents bugs/weeds.

Glyphosate is most commonly used on crops such as corn, soy, wheat, and rice. In 2017, the World Health Organization announced that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic". Studies also have been conducted showing the negative effects of glyphosate on the microbiome, changing long-term changes to the microbiome. Glyphosates inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria, causing dysbiosis. Glyphosate has also been linked to gluten intolerance, synthesis of amino acids, and building resistance in pathogenic bacteria.

Glyphosates have also been linked to chronic toxicity, cancer, skin irritations, toxicity in reproduction, liver/kidney damage and disease, respiratory problems, and more. The University of Washington conducted a study that showed that exposure to glyphosate increases the risk of cancer by 40%. Since glyphosate disrupts the microbiome, it also greatly increases the likelihood of dysbiosis, which is the disturbance of microbiome due to the overcrowding of pathogenic bacteria. In a recent study done by the University of Caen rat's feces were analyzed to determine their microbiome health. The three concentrations of Roundup used was: 0.1 ppb, 400 ppm, and 5,000 ppm.

There was a rise in the Bacteroidetes family S24-7, while the Lactobacillus bacteria family decreased in population. When pathogenic bacteria overcrowd, it allows for chronic illness to set in. Illnesses such as dysbiosis, including inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Even less commonly associated gut diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, obesity, and autism.

Overall, I believe that plant protein is a poor choice for a canine due to the long list of health problems it puts on the animal. Canines are delicately formed by mother nature to eat specific nutrients in a certain way to reach optimal health and vitality.

To achieve ultimate health and not just merely survive, feeding a whole, fresh, and high-quality animal-based diet will provide the most ancestral and nutrient-dense form of nutrition possible. As always, thank you so much for stopping by and Always Keep Exploring.

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