Herbalife Nutrition Doctor: Sustainable Plant Protein is Good for Health and the Environment
By Luigi Gratton, M.D., M.P.H., vice president, Nutrition Education and Development, Herbalife Nutrition
Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board
April 21, 2017
Earth Day 2017 is an important time to reflect on some of the major challenges and opportunities facing our planet. This year’s theme, Environmental Climate and Literacy, is centered on the importance of educating people about climate change and driving awareness of policies designed to protect the environment. One such policy that is gaining more and more attention in the public and private sectors: sustainability. Many of the ongoing Earth Day campaigns, such as Reforestation, Green Cities, Green Schools and Endangered Species, are partially focused on this topic, as are we at Herbalife Nutrition.
Plant Protein and Sustainability
As the premier global nutrition company, our focus is on finding healthy and sustainable ingredients to include in our nutrition products. As a physician, I’m thinking a lot about the benefits of plant-based proteins right now—and we’re understanding more about overlooked sources (i.e., peas, quinoa, rice). Soy is a nearly perfect example of a high-quality protein because it’s a “complete” protein containing all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that can only be obtained through food.
The other macro benefit to using soy and other plant-based proteins is environmental. Plant protein is much more sustainable to produce on a mass scale and uses less acreage, water and other resources than protein from meat, milk and eggs. Here are three ways that plant protein is environmentally-friendly:
1. Efficient water usage – Isolated soy protein (ISP), found in Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Shakes, uses much less water (38 liters per kg of protein produced) than pork or beef (more than 1,600 liters of water per kg).
2. Small carbon footprint – ISP production creates eight to 80 times less pollutants, including harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, than beef (2.4 kg compared to 178 kg) and other animal-based proteins.
3. Efficient land usage – ISP requires 8 ㎡ of land per kg of protein compared to 1,311 ㎡ of land for beef.
I’m proud to say that Herbalife Nutrition is the largest purchaser of ISP in the United States, creating jobs, improving local economies and supporting farmers in the Midwest.
However you choose to celebrate or commemorate Earth Day, remember that the food choices we make have a long-term impact on our health, and the health of the planet.