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Weird Science: Can Lab-Grown Meat Be Considered Vegetarian/Vegan?

This is my first blog post while on my internship in Idaho! I am going to examine in vitro meat, and discuss with consumers if it’s something they are interested in, and if it can be considered vegan or vegetarian.

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Hello from Pocatello, Idaho!  I am finally on my internship, meaning my route to becoming a Registered Dietitian is super close!

Anyway, in food, there are a lot of oddities that arise when science gets thrown in.  For example, the botanists told the food people that strawberries are NOT a berry, but bananas are (it has to do with where the seeds of each plant are located, and skin thickness).  One such example of something new is in vitro meat, or more commonly referred to as lab grown meat, or cultured meat.

Cultured meat is essentially meat cells are added to a solution, and that allows them to grow free of the animal.  This can reduce concerns about ethical treatment of animals, can reduce the carbon foot print of meat production, and can make meat much more affordable.  However, the invention of in vitro meat brings about other questions, such as can cultured meat be considered vegetarian/vegan, and how will consumers perceive it?

Lab-grown meat is made when muscle stem cells are added to a collagen “goo,” and allowed to grow with other regenerative solutions.  This essentially allows meat to be made without killing an animal.  However, it has not been perfected yet, and still lacks some components of what makes meat desirable, such as marbling.

My stance is that cultured meat is not going to be considered vegetarian or vegan for the large population.  While an animal is not directly involved in the process of making the meat, it is still made from animal cells.  For me, vegetarian is not eating meat, aside from animal products (such as eggs, cheese, and milk), whereas vegan is NO animal products whatsoever.  Lab-grown meat does not fit in with either of these definitions, as it is still made from animal muscle, even if it’s grown in a pitri dish.

As a fun thing I asked a few people I knew what their opinion on the topic was.  Sara Kerr, a fellow nutrition student, had this to say: “I would think by definition it may be able to be considered vegan, but I wouldn’t think all vegans would be interested in eating it since people choose to be vegan for a spectrum of reasons, be it moral, health, social, cultural, or economic. I could see there being some variation on vegetarianism that this would fall under, similar to lacto-ovo vegetarian. Maybe synth-meat vegetarians or a trendier moniker that rolls off the tongue a little nicer.”

Another person said “Yuck. I won’t eat it. I support sustainable and humane animal raising. How are we to know is this “meat” is animal, vegetable or even human. No Petri dish sirloin for me! Soylent green next?”  To answer the question, it has to do with where the stem cells come from, so for example, while plants can move, they do not have muscle.  There are standards for food in place that would prevent humans from being eaten… for now.  Someone else was in agreement with the previous statement saying ” I don’t think I could handle it. Gross!”

However, not all people are opposed to the idea.  One person said “ Lab grown meat sounds amazing,”  with another saying ” If they can make it work and make it affordable I’d be down. My only wonder is whether or not this meat would be all lean or if they could also grow marbled meats.”  Right now, it sounds like it’s only lean meats are being grown, but I would think marbling would be possible.

So what do you all think?  How does lab-grown meat sound to you?  Do you think it could be considered vegan or vegetarian?  Comment your opinions below!

I’d like to give special thanks to Sara Kerr.  You can find her website here, and her Instagram here.  Go ahead and check out her work, she has some fantastic photos and artwork.

Drink with the Living: How to Transform Your Water

Fast Facts and Opinions on different ways to drink water during the heat of summer.

Right now, Oregon is having a brief cool period before the heat comes back.  When it’s hot outside, people should be drinking more fluids.  To clarify, I mean things like water, and not beer.  While drinking a cold beer on a warm day is nice, it will not hydrate you as much as a glass of water.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you can lose more water (via pee) than you consume.  Not to mention there are several other negative health effects that alcohol has, but that’s not the main focus of today’s post.

What I am going to be talking about is ways to drink more water during the summer.  Now, my suggestions assume that you have access to safe and clean water, ingredients to add to the water, and any other things you might need, so this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

Plain water:  This is the classic version.  This kind of water has the benefit of being calorie free, sugar free, caffeine free, and mostly anything else that could possibly negatively impact your health.  However, this version is also highly subject to other conditions such as water additives, pipe conditions, if it’s stored in the fridge (any other fragrant foods, such as garlic, can impact the taste), or anything else that can make the water taste off.  You can try to use a water filter, but this can be costly, and can take up valuable refrigerator space when compared to drinking straight from the tap.

Bottled water is available, but can also take up space, depending on how many you buy at a time.  I personally just use tap water, let it run until it’s cold, then add ice.

Flavored water:  I count this as something different than infused water (which I will talk about below) or sodas.  These are waters that usually have flavoring agents added, be they natural or artificial.  I haven’t seen anything really for or against using flavored water in place of plain water.  Check the label of these water flavoring agents, as they might have salt (aka sodium), artificial sweeteners (there’s not been much conclusive evidence for or against these from my research), or any other additive that you as the consumer might be against.

Infused water:  This is a category of water that uses fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs to flavor the water.  What’s nice about infused water is that it is very customize-able, and there are plenty of recipes out there, especially on Pinterest.  The issues are that this takes space and time in the refrigerator to allow the ingredients to infuse into the water.  Another possible setback is the quality of the product if you are unsure of how to prepare it, or are unsure of the proportions.  There is also food waste if you chose not to eat what you put into the water.

Coffee/Tea:  Wait, doesn’t caffeine dehydrate you?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, caffeine can cause several issues, such as anxiety and cardiovascular issues, and can be a diuretic.  However, when consumed normally, your body compensates for this, and it is not as affected.  My preference is to coffee black, and tea without cream and sugar.  This reduces the Calories down significantly, but can have an off-putting taste for some.

How do you beat the heat during the summer?  Do you drink anything special to help cool down?  Feel free to comment below.

Running Down a Dream: Running a Restaurant for a Day

This is one of my last projects as an undergrad at Oregon State University.

First, let’s give a big shout out to managers, food production staff, etc. that help restaurant operations run smoothly, because holy shit do you all have a tough job.

As part of my requirements for my degree, nutrition students have to run an on-campus restaurant for one day.  This includes everything, from setting up a theme, to the marketing, and even designing the menu.  Fortunately, I wasn’t alone.  I had a group of very talented people to work with.

Our theme was Thai food (with more of a focus on the Americanized versions, since that is what we were familiar with).  We focused on foods that were simple, quick to make, and we were sure were going to sell.  Some of our highlights include pork meatballs, spicy chicken wings, and pad Thai.  No, our focus wasn’t on making healthy food.

I was in charge of the design elements of the event, seeing as how I had the most technical know-how out of my group.  I we came up with the name “Tongue Thai’d” for our theme name.  As such, I pulled a classic move and modified the Rolling Stones logo for two reasons:  I didn’t want our group to use the raw logo like what was proposed and I liked influencing the event with my rock/metal roots anyway.  I modified the logo by putting a twist on it, as in I made the tongue look like it was knotted or twisted.

Sooner than any of us wanted, we were freaking the fuck out ready for the event.  I was on running duty, meaning I was basically a combination of a bus boy and waiter.  We hit a few snags initially, such as our tea being salty (someone mistook salt for sugar), so we had to prepare new batches and replace and serve them.  We also wound up selling out of a couple of our items, which is a good and bad thing.  Good, because that meant we had a lot of sales, but bad because we potentially lost sales, too.

This is one of those experiences I won’t forget.  The months of planning, tasting recipes and making adjustments, the mistakes and successes made along the way.  All of it is valuable in dietetics practice.  Food service is a very important part, since people like to eat.  People eat in places other than home (such as an on-campus restaurant).  Having a dietician on hand helps with food decisions, such as:  balancing meals, ingredient substitutions, or possibly legislation.

Shout out to the talented people I got to work with on this project.  You all helped to make this project as smooth as possible.  Congratulations on graduating, and may you all do great things in your field!

More Food Poetry

I wanted to write some more food poetry to get more diverse styles on here.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a bunch of poems based on food, so I thought why not?  It’s been a while since I have flexed my more creative side on this site.

 

Quinoa
Is it keen-wah, kwin-o-wah?
Who the Hell know-wah?
An ancient grain, whole grain.
Tiny circle pellets, don’t drain.

Lemon
Yellow sour citrus fruit
Makes salmon better to boot
We all know that vitamin C
Is really good for me

On Learning Metabolic Pathways
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHH

Bananas
Coming in a yellow bunch
Go ahead and pack in a lunch
High in potassium
Makes you say “yum.”

 

Blueberries
Small, blue and round.
Spring through summer can be found.
Eat them raw, in a salad or pie.
Vitamin C to help you not die.

 

Salad
Can be filled with a bunch of green
Can be filled with a bunch of fruit
Try and make sure the calories are lean
Tasty dish, and nutrient dense to boot

 

Lunch
Middle meal of the day
Can be large or small
or even not at all
I like to eat it anyway

 

The Internet Itself
A lot of garbage floating in the void
Who can you trust for info?
I am incredibly annoyed
My side, your side, their side, we don’t know

Success

Some college senior talks about things that helped him be successful.

Matching for the Dietetic Internships (DI) is wrapped up.  For many juniors in the program, this is a scary time.  There might be a lot of time now, but it will go by fast.  For sophomores and freshmen (maybe even the juniors or seniors too) in nutrition programs, you have a bit more time.  I have some words of encouragement for you.

  1. Find something that scares the shit out of you and do it.  You can talk about this during the DI application, how you started off scared of something (e.g. public speaking), and how you improved.
  2. Be bold.  You really want to stand out in some way.  There are a lot of ways you can do this.  Oftentimes, hobbies or lifestyle choices can benefit you if you spin it in a certain way.  For example, playing on a sports team shows dedication and the ability to be part of a team.  Being involved in student organizations shows potential leadership experience.  Hell, if you really want to, starting a blog is pretty easy.  I mean, lookit this guy.
  3. Be good at what you do.  One piece of advice I got from a professor was to pick a couple things you are good at, and flaunt them to whoever will want to see them.  For me, I tried to stay active on Twitter, WordPress, Facebook and others.  Eventually due to burnout, I stopped being so active on Twitter, and keep my Facebook for friends and family only.   I found it difficult to keep up with everything, and this was only a small smattering of social media.  However, I have also started to take up fiction writing.  It can be intimidating trying to get everything done that dietetics classes recommend, so I will be the contrarian.  Find some hobbies you like, and do them well.
  4. Be yourself.  One would think that being a potty-mouthed metal-head shows me as less professional than many of the other students in the program.  However, when I have tried to “fit-in” with the crowd, I felt very artificial.  I despised giving more professional presentations too.  However, I have found ways to maintain my sense of self, while being appropriate for work, and maintaining a professional demeanor.  I still go into class with band-tee shirts, but when the time comes I try and put on professional face, while still maintaining the quirkiness I try and provide.
  5. Have fun.  I wish this was as easy as it sounds.  Studying can be a big pain, even if it’s something you’re interested in.  Sometimes you need a break to figure out what you need.  Sometimes having fun is doing something else, like watching a movie, playing video games, or even spending time with friends and family.  I am wrapping up my fifth year of college.  If it wasn’t for my hobbies, or friends and family I would have lost my sanity a long time ago.  Or at least, the last remaining bits of my sanity.

Success can be seen in many more ways than I listed.  Success is also loosely defined.  You can do all of these things, yet fail at what you do.  Just remember, that is not the end.  Not everyone’s path is the same, and it is up to you to determine if you succeeded or not.

Fake News: How to Navigate Information

There is a lot of trash on the internet. This is some of my advice on finding what is useful to you.

Wow, look at this!  Mr. Blogman is back at it again.  Maybe this term will be kinder to me by actually allowing me to have freetime.

Fake news is one of those terms that people throw around like crazy.  Something for your point is valid, whereas if something goes against it, it becomes the increasingly cliched term “fake news.”  However, within the realm of food and nutrition, there is a lot of fake news.  I jokingly tell many people in my dietetics cohort “anyone online who is writing about nutrition either knows jack-shit, or is a dietitian.”  While this is a hyperbolized statement, it highlights the fact that there are many blogs out there from people who have no idea what they are talking about.  This post (which may or may not be fake news) is going to help you navigate the confusion.

Who wrote the article?:  This can show a lot about how reliable the article is.  Moms are fantastic people.  In fact, one helped to make me the sarcastic asshole  intelligent young man I am today.  However, a good portion of them are not educated in nutrition or medicine.  A mommy blog arguing against vaccines and promoting homeopathy is not reliable, because they are going against the vast amounts of research done showing the contrary.  Same goes for scientists as well.  Science is attacked by everyone, including other scientists.  When I research a topic, I look where there are more voices, rather than the loudest.  If 99 published articles say something (like fruits and vegetables are healthy), and one opposes it (if they say that fruits and vegetables are actually going to give you cancer because of some compound in all plants), then we need to examine the one that’s against.  Sometimes, this is can find something new that we did not know yet, and warrants further education.  Other times, they are full of shit.

What do they have to gain from writing the article?:  Nobody does anything for nothing.  Hell, I write this blog because I want to get my nutritional foot in the door.  Most times, articles are written for money.  Most of the times, money comes from ads, and advertisers want view and engagement.  This means articles get trashy and worthless.  Sometimes these articles will use catchy titles to bait you into clicking on them (for example, THIS one Food in Your Kitchen is DEADLY, and You are EATING It.  The answer is water, because it can be dangerous when super heated, and can cause electrolyte imbalances if too much is drunk).  Emotional trickery, especially anger, can lead you to share the article with people, leading to more views.  Sometimes, health professionals and amateurs can be paid to sponsor a product.  This does not mean it’s a healthy product, but that someone paid someone to say something valuable about it.

How reputable is the source?:  Sometimes the platform can make or break a source.  Several media outlets have shown themselves to not be reputable with their reporting, and this is used against one side or another (be it politics, health, or current events).  I can assure you, whether you are for or against a topic, there are good and bad sources on either side.  On social media, I’ve seen so many image macros (or memes) about bashing one side or the other.  There are valid points to both sides, yet it gets lost with who you are talking to.  I can even praise homeopathy for a component that modern medicine lacks:  empathy.  Some sources have tarnished their credibility to Hell.

Where did The Punk Go?

Did he die?  Nope.  *Quickly turns away and checks pulse.*  Nope, still alive

Did he quit blogging?  Also nope.

Can you help me find my keys?  Did you check in the couch?

Jokes aside, I needed to take a break from blogging to finish up the term.  This past term of working for Food Hero (an extension of Oregon State University that provides health and nutrition information to low-income families), getting educated in nutrition, and doing work on my writing minor left me run down.  I got super burned out, and as a consequence, I began hating nutrition and writing, which is definitely not a good thing.

I plan on getting back into writing on my blog, and maybe even publishing some work.  I also want to try and grow my Twitter account, which can be found here.  I try to post something there every day, but sometimes I don’t if there’s not much to say.  Give it a follow if you’d like.

I am also unsure of my future as an online personality, with the recent repeal of Net Neutrality.  If running social media accounts becomes too expensive, then I will have to leave.  I cannot afford to run social media while attending school.  Hopefully things don’t change too much, because I do like writing and working on social media.

Hopefully everyone had a happy holiday season, and hopefully 2018 will be a better year for everyone than 2017 was.

Also because this is a nutrition blog, I suppose I should leave some last words on food.  Eat your fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.  Limit saturated fats and added sugars.