The simple answer is no, eating animal protein does not cause heart disease. Can it contribute to it? Certainly. Animal protein tends to be higher in saturated fat and cholesterol. Saturated fat tends to be associated with higher total blood cholesterol/lipids, specifically LDL (the bad one). Higher total and LDL cholesterol levels are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat and replacing them with monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats (like those found in non-hydrogenated vegetable oils and olives and nuts) is associated with low blood cholesterol levels, and therefore a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (Dietary Guidelines for American 2010 http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf) . However, animal proteins are rich in many nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron and zinc and play an important role in meeting the body’s nutrient needs.
The impact of animal protein is probably part of a larger-picture lifestyle. Keeping a balance of calories eaten and calories burned through activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. The evidence is much stronger that being overweight is harmful to your health and is linked to a variety of health issues, including heart disease.
Whether you do or do not eat animal protein is a personal choice. Eating lean meats in a diet composed of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and the right calorie intake coupled with regular physical activity is likely a small risk. However, most Americans do not get regular physical activity and consume a diet far from what would be considered healthy. In this scenario, then risk factors are allowed to exert their influence to a greater degree.