Skip to Content

Sustainability News

ASU Now | October 23, 2019

vegetables arranged into the shape of a heart
Heart symbol. Vegetables diet concept. Food photography of heart made from different vegetables on white wooden table. High resolution product.
If you’ve been on the internet in the past couple of years, chances are you’ve heard of a plant-based diet. According to Forbes, plant-based dieting remains one of the most influential trends impacting the food and beverage industry. People adopt plant-based diets for a variety of different reasons, from a concern about the environment and animals to a simple desire to eat healthier. However, experts say there’s a good reason to hesitate before adopting such diets: the possibility of becoming nutrient deficient.

In a new paper published in the journal Nutrients, Arizona State University College of Health Solutions professors Carol Johnston and Chris Wharton warn that “nutrient deficiencies, including protein, are possible due to low bio-availability from plant-based sources.” In other words, those who adopt plant-based or similar diets could become deficient in protein due to the fact that it is harder to absorb from plant-based sources. In such cases, protein supplementation is often necessary.

To gauge the efficacy of protein supplementation, Johnston and Wharton, who is also a sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, conducted a study detailed in the paper in which they gave a small subgroup of 37 under-active vegetarians a mung bean protein supplement. When the study ended, they found that those who took the supplement had improved strength levels compared to their levels measured before the trial.

The main goal of the research is to convince the government to increase the recommended daily allowance of protein for those who follow plant-based or similar diets.