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Would You Eat This?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Most people are familiar with the concept of "Soylent Green" even if they haven't seen the movie. In a fictional dystopian world plagued with overpopulation, pollution, and food scarcity, Soylent Green is the main nutritional food stuff of the future. It's a renewable food source that is the solution to feeding a hungry world. The shocker is what Soylent Green is really made of, which I won't give away here for those who might not have seen it.

The movie was based on a book from science fiction writer Harry Harrison. The movie is drastically different than the book in theme and plot, but "Soylent Green" was originally called "Soylent Steak" in the book. "Soylent Steak" was not the shocker that it was in "Soylent Green", but it was an artificial replacement to real meat. That is exactly what I thought of when I read this article:


About eight years ago, I engaged in my one and only attempt at veganism. It didn't last long. I do not have the conviction of spirit to hold to it for a lifetime. I did not enjoy nor could I get used to the taste of meat substitutes. Rather quickly, I wondered if I was hungering for meat replacements, why not just eat real meat? I also noticed a contradiction in what I was attempting. It was my goal to eliminate processed and packaged food from my diet, and these meat substitutes were HIGHLY processed foods. Soy and corn are among the most genetically modified plants.

That was the end of my vegan experiment.

If meat substitutes tasted more like real meat, then would people be more receptive to vegetarianism or veganism?

Growing "meat" in a petri dish just shifts one ethical dilemma to another.

A long time ago, I reconciled that the very act of living means consuming something that dies. If we eat meat, an animal had to die. If we eat a plant, a plant had to die. Nutrient rich soil is full of organic compost from dead matter, which living plants thrive in. Soil with no bacteria, mold, bugs, worms, decaying plant/animal matter, etc, is dead soil. It cannot sustain life.

Many of my vegetarian friends reconcile this by saying they won't eat anything with a face. Fair enough. However, just because a plant doesn't have a face or a brain doesn't mean it wants to be eaten.

Some edible plants have evolved so that the animals who eat their fruit will spread their seed elsewhere. Some edible plants become inedible or bitter when they go to seed. Some plants developed toxins in order to avoid being eaten because they can't run away. Beans, for example. Beans are very tough and contain a toxin that will make animals very sick if they try to eat it. But as our ancestors discovered, boiling them in water for 10 minutes will neutralize the toxin rendering them safe to eat. If you ever got a case of mysterious food poisoning from a batch of crockpot chili made with dried beans, it was probably because the temperature didn't reach 100C/212F in order to destroy the toxin. Most people mistakenly blame the meat, but it was actually probably the beans.

It is true that the Amazon rain forest is being cut down to make room for cattle. However, it is also being deforested to make room for corn, soy, and wheat. The irrigation and chemical fertilizers used changes the ph balance of the soil through every ecosystem that they pass through. "The Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is due to the high nitrogen from fertilizer run off carried from farms down the Mississippi River. It causes algae to bloom to such high levels that it removes all the oxygen in the water, suffocating the coral reefs, fish and plants. The midwest grown corn in the corn flakes and the soy in the soy milk for breakfast may have massacred hundreds of thousands of shellfish and fish in what should be the most fertile delta in the United States.

I'm not trying to come up with a solution for this. I'm just framing the problem. Darned if we do, darned if we don't.

Petri dish grown food, though, is disturbing. This isn't hybridization of plants or animals; it is entirely manufactured. It isn't something nature made, and to me that is more offensive than eating bugs.

How exactly are the animal rights activists going to test that this is safe for consumption if they oppose animal testing?

Presumably they think this will be safer from food contamination than animal slaughter. Meat can be contaminated with e coli or salmonella. However, I wouldn't eat anything that bacteria or fungus can't eat. Food is supposed to go moldy. That is life breaking down organic matter. It is NATURAL and the way it is supposed to work.

The most disturbing aspect to me is that "Shmeat" was never alive. It doesn't have any parents. It doesn't have any children. It doesn't grow in the sun; it presumably grows under a heat lamp. Perhaps to some anti-meat advocates, maybe that is what is appealing. If so, then this is an irreconcilable difference, and no, a better tasting fake meat would not convince me it was somehow more healthy.

I am for the ethical raising of livestock and sustainable farms similar to the way my grandparents' generation did it. Cows ate grass in pastures, then were finished with corn in the last week before the slaughter - not raised on grain in feces covered holding cells their whole life. Produce was rotated seasonally on farms to promote healthy soil - not seeded with GMO plants that were bred to be dependent on the company that modified them.

For me, this is an absolute "No Way."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Touché! And she has bigger tomatoes than I do too!

    1810 days ago
    Hear, hear!

    Of the two scientists, I'm more inclined to believe the one who gets results.

    As to the original topic, two words: unintended consequences.
    1810 days ago
    In that instance, no they are not inert as they are amplifying an existing state. They are not the causation. Every instance you are discussing addresses the symptom, not the causation. And thus is the state of our current situation as medicine attempts to patch up the symptoms, and not the root cause which is over consumption of glucose and over stimulation of insulin. The saturated fats in the form of triglycerides are damaging in a malfunctioning system. I have never denied this. I only deny that they in themselves are the causation, per se.

    Know how I lowered my blood pressure, blood lipid profile, and lost weight? I stopped consuming non vegetable carbohydrates. Problem solved. I didn't need a doctor or medicine to do it. Once I understood the hormonal imbalance, I could fix my problem with diet and exercise alone. Not calorie counting.

    Best wishes and good luck in your path, whatever that may be.
    1810 days ago
    So it's exactly as I said: fatty acids are NOT inert when it comes to insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis.
    1810 days ago
    Free fatty acids do not cause insulin secretion. Excessive free fatty acids amplify secretion ONLY in the presence of glucose (when secretion is already occurring).
    1810 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/12/2013 7:45:19 AM
    It is simply incorrect to say that fat is inert in relation to insulin/glucagon. For example free fatty acids stimulate insulin secretion via the G-protein coupled receptor GPR40 which is present mainly in the beta cells of the pancreas. Agonists to this receptor are being developed at a rapid rate and some are at an advanced stage in clinical trials for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and the results are promising in terms of improved glycaemic control.
    1810 days ago
    Wow, this is just... the anti-paleo! I wouldn't touch that with a 10-foot pole, and I sure as heck wouldn't subject my family's health to something so unnatural.
    1811 days ago
    Here's what happen when you do a high cardio/low calorie diet. Your metabolism drops. Why? Because your body adjusts and reregulates hormones so you function on a fewer number of calories.

    Here's what happens when you exercise and eat a lot of calories, particularly protein: you gain muscle.

    You cannot gain fat without insulin. Type I diabetics cannot gain weight without insulin. Once they start taking insulin shots, they can put on weight. And yes, if they eat too much, they can gain a lot of weight. But again, that only happens in the presence of insulin.

    The elephant in the room is how foods and exercise effects hormonal balance. Our bodies aren't an accounting math ledger, and no, it is not as simple as calorie in versus calorie out.

    It is inert with regards to insulin/glucagon secretion. Insulin imbalance leads to excessive triglycerides. Excessive triglycerides leads to a number of different health issues. Again, it is a symptom, not a cause. Your two links do nothing but confirm that, yes, it is a problem. That is not in dispute.
    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 6:45:59 PM
    Fat is not inert, either as a nutrient or as adipose tissue. People DO say insulin is the enemy as in Peter Attia's ridiculous title for his campaign ' War on insulin" ( now changed). Even in the absence of carbs if you overeat you will get fat if you eat more than your caloric requirements. Problems arise when we overeat- not due to insulin but due to overeating. It just seems to me that the carbohydrate theory of obesity is based on a reading of undergraduate texts. It's just not that simple - that's why I referenced the two articles on free fatty acids. No single nutrient is responsible for obesity but the elephant in the room is overeating. As Dolly Parton said.' Get your head out of the slop bucket'. I address that comment to myself not to you! emoticon
    1811 days ago
    Problem arise when we overeat, which is driven by excess insulin. Again, fat is inert, and protein has a small effect. Carbohydrate is the largest driver of insulin. Protein causes glucogon to be excreted. When there is an excess of insulin, fat cannot be used for energy. Neither the triglycerides, nor adipose. When glucagon is the dominant hormone, fat can be used for energy. No one said insulin is the enemy. Excess insulin is. Insulin is an absolutely vital hormone. Type I diabetics will die due to lack of it.

    When there is an absence of carbohydrates, some protein is converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis. Stored fat is turned into ketones. Ketones are burned for fuel. Ketones are either used or discarded. They are not stored.

    Insulin stimulates appetite. Glucagon suppresses it. Leptin also stimulates/suppresses appetite. When insulin+glucagon+leptin are in balance, it is very difficult to overeat. People who are overweight most likely have a problem with one or more of these being out of balance. Not calorie balance, but hormonal balance.

    The snippet posted appears to be from Wikipedia. Read the rest of it. It says high carb/low fat diets leads to elevated triglycerides. Fructose is also responsible. For decades researchers have blamed the fat in the McDonald's burgers for obesity, but it is actually the bun+fat that is the mechanism. I agree with the conclusion fat+carb is a terrible combination.
    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 5:29:35 PM
    The exact mechanism of insulin resistance is not fully worked out and is multifactorial but it is certainly not as simple as damage to insulin receptors by sugar. Much recent research has shown that contrary to previous beliefs adipose tissue is metabolically active and that the inflammatory cytokines produced by adipose tissue are largely responsible for insulin resistance. Adipose tissue arises from overeating no matter whether it was from carbs, protein or fat. In the normal course of events insulin spikes in response to a meal - this is what it should do- and once energy requirements are met and glucose and fatty acids are taken up insulin levels return to a fasting state. Problems arise when we overeat -fat, carbs or proteins. It is not that insulin prevents triglyceride breakdown -it's that there was too much triglyceride present for energy requirements i.e. we overate. The main point is that there is no bad molecule- insulin is not the enemy -overeating is.

    'Dietary fat has long been implicated as a driver of insulin resistance. Studies on animals observed significant insulin resistance in rats after just 3 weeks on a high-fat diet (59% fat, 20% carb.).[9] Large quantities of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated (omega-6) fats all appear to be harmful to rats to some degree, compared to large amounts of starch, but saturated fat appears to be the most effective at producing IR.[10] This is partly caused by direct effects of a high-fat diet on blood markers, but, more significantly, ad libitum high-fat diet has the tendency to result in caloric intake that's far in excess of animals' energy needs, resulting in rapid weight gain. In humans, statistical evidence is more equivocal. Being insensitive to insulin is still positively correlated with fat intake, and negatively correlated with dietary fiber intake,[11] but both these factors are also correlated with excess body weight.



    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 4:19:15 PM
    Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to sugar. A small amount is also released on the presence of protein, but fat has zero effect on insulin secretion. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin receptors are damaged due to excessive blood sugar. This cannot happen with fat because fat is inert with regard to insulin. There are essential amino acids and essential fats, but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

    The free fatty acids comes from triglycerides. Triglycerides come from fat, this is true. However, excessive triglyceride build up occurs when there is excessive insulin in the bloodstream. Insulin prevents triglycerides from being broken down. So if insulin resistances comes from triglyceride build up, it is still due to excessive insulin simulation from carbohydrates. The fatty acids are the symptom, not the cause.

    Trans fats were shown to be damaging by Dr. Mary Enig, who flatly rejected the lipid hypothesis which said saturated fats caused heart damage. She was criticized heavily for her work, and many tried to discredit her, but she was proven correct.

    Soylent Green - would I? No. I'd rather BBQ the squirrels first. I've got plenty of them. ;)
    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 2:19:29 PM
    True there is currently no drug cure for Diabetes but there are some really exciting potential cures for Type 1 in clinical trials at the moment. Your Dad's doctors are surely negligent in not advising lifestyle and dietary changes. I never believed that horrible margarine could be better for you than delicious butter! Eventually the evidence appeared. As children we ate margarine because it was cheaper but I never liked it. Trans fats have been shown to be the real baddies but, by the same research community that said saturated fats were the cause of atherosclerosis. From looking at the literature it seems that older research was misinterpreted but more recent work seems again to support some role for saturated fat in heart disease and other diseases. It is confusing to say the least. Moderation in all things seems to be the way to go.
    Insulin resistance is strongly correlated with high levels of fat-derived free fatty acids. Diets composed entirely of carbohydrates do not result in insulin resistance so long as they do not exceed caloric requirements. Proteins are not the building blocks - amino acids which are common to all organisms, are. Proteins from the diet are not absorbed intact they are hydrolysed to their constituent amino acids which are then used as building blocks by the body.

    Soylent Green - would you?! In an emergency? Did you see the film Alive!? emoticon
    1811 days ago
    Where would be without them? That is a good question! There is some good paved with a lot of unintended consequences. Diabetes drugs aren't solving diabetes, but only prolonging life with the disease. For profit pharmaceuticals have little incentive to cure disease. My dad's doctor continue to pump him with drugs rather than addressing diet.

    I must admit I'm a little surprised. It seems there is more support for this then I expected. To the people who think this is a good idea, do you still think margarines are healthier than butter? Trans fats have been causally linked to artery damage in hearts and cancer. How many people have died of heart attacks and cancer during the period when they were sold to us under the premise of being healthier than saturated fats? In over 30 years of study, there is zero causal link between saturated fats and heart disease - we're still operating under a faulty hypothesis. Saturated fats don't cause insulin resistance; glucose from sugar and grains do.

    A man-made protein has the potential for far more devastation as protein is a direct building block in our tissues. We are what we eat, quite literally.
    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 7:45:38 AM
    Interesting blog. Yes I would eat this –but only if it tastes good! I believe it is nature made- it’s made by humans. However I don’t think that this product will sell just because it is produced in a more ethical manner. People know that battery chickens and American cattle have miserable lives but it doesn’t stop people buying them.
    I have no objection to ‘unnatural things’ be they GMOs, hair products, buildings, medicines, most foods- where would we be without them? I do object to foods whose flavours and textures are from additives rather than from delicious ingredients such as butter, sugar, herbs, spices, vegetables and fruit. I object to manufacturers making GMO seed infertile so that poor farmers have to buy seed every year but that is not an argument against GMOs per se.
    We have evolved to exploit the opportunities provided to us to become the incredibly accomplished and flawed human race. If we had not intervened and changed our environment and had allowed 'nature' to take its course- where would we be? I don’t think it would be a better place.
    It's better than eating bugs- there I cannot go!
    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2013 7:14:06 AM
    I'm all about lean protein. And yes I think I would eat this petri-dish meat, and I would also eat bugs (I do already, if I consider crustaceans), and I'm happy to eat the venison, trout, duck, turkey, and goose that bf brings over. He's sort of like a cat, that way. LOL
    1812 days ago
    Interesting blog! Lately I find my best choice is to seek out local farmers who raise their animals with healthy habits and buy my meat there.

    But ultimately we all have a responsibility to do all the good we can in life to justify the resources it took to keep us here, breathing. Mr. Rogers said that (sort of).
    1812 days ago
    I think some low-carb/paleo people fall in this trap, too. I don't think gluten-free bread is any better than wheat bread. I don't think most gluten-free substitutes taste very good either, so I don't eat them. Many people do eat them because they want a similar experience as some wheat product, but I personally have abandoned most low-carb recipes that are a type of wheat replacement. Flourless brownies might be the exception, but not really because it's not trading wheat flour for some non-wheat flour.

    Vegan or vegetarianism doesn't work for me philosophically or physically. Could it work for some people? Sure.

    The overtone of this article suggested that perhaps a more meat-like faux meat might convert more people. Maybe it would some people who are on the fence. For myself, it would not convert me as I have already concluded the diet is not for me, and it's not because the faux meat products weren't meaty enough. (Although they were pretty awful.)
    1812 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/10/2013 5:52:14 PM
    Interesting thought: "the very act of living means consuming something that dies"...never thought of it that way and appreciate the perspective-tweaking thoughts you've shared!

    1812 days ago
    I have never heard of this, but it sounds expensive from the start. Hard to imagine how they can commercialize it, but if they can, I'm not necessarily opposed.
    1812 days ago
  • 55WALKER
    It's too bad so many people equate veganism with eating fake meats. Those things contain so many unhealthy ingredients and perpetuate the desire for animal products.

    I don't apply the term vegan to myself since I am not an ethical vegan. I eat a whole foods plant based diet. I cook a lot and eat minimally processed foods (no fake foods and prepared dinners and processed grains) and use no animal products or added fats or sweeteners. I can eat as much as I want and not gain weight and the food tastes wonderful.
    1812 days ago
  • KELPIE57
    Interesting as always, and I am not happy with this engineering, and worry about how the big companies will then control (even more) our food sources. Yesterday we ate a rabbit reared by a neighbour, and veg mostly from the garden. Today, fish J caught himself, veg ditto. I'll stick with that whenever possible, thank you very much!
    BTW, you might be interested to read this http://www.ndoherty.com/quit-vegan/

    1813 days ago
    Ugh. I suppose this could be helpful to the "future colonizers of Mars", but ugh, again. No.
    1814 days ago
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