A new study suggests we should be getting more protein from plants and less of it from animals.
An international team of researchers have found eating more protein from plant sources was associated with a longer life.
Researchers looked at data from two large US studies involving more than 130,000 people over 32 years.
They found that people who got more of their protein from plants and less of it from animals were less likely to die over the study period.
The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that the impact was especially high among adults with at least one unhealthy behaviour such as smoking, drinking, being inactive or overweight.
NZ Beef and Lamb nutrition manager Emily Parks says plant protein doesn't compare.
"Red meat is extremely nutrient dense and per calorie is a very efficient way of meeting daily dietary requirements as it is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids," says Ms Parks.
"Plant foods contain protein but lack one or more essential amino acids and as such we recommend consuming red meat three to four times a week alongside a healthy well balanced diet, which is in line with current Ministry of Health guidelines."
Ministry of Health Guidelines recommend eating a variety of nutritious foods every day, but suggest limiting red meat to 500 grams a week while increasing your intake of legumes, fish, nuts and seeds.
After adjusting for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, every 10 percent increment of animal protein from total calories was associated with a 2 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 8 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease death.
In contrast, eating more plant protein was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of death from all causes for every 3 percent increment of total calories and a 12 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death.
"Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially from processed red meat, may confer substantial health benefit," the study concludes.
"Therefore, public health recommendations should focus on improvement of protein sources."