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Zerim
15th Mar 2012, 09:02
OBLIGATORY: I've been discussing the topics of diet, ethics, health and social evolution with others for years now. And one thing I realized is that folks seem to get SUPER defensive and emotional about their diet when they feel threatened about it. I know the DX fanbase is an intellectual crowd so I hope we'll be able to discuss this stuff without taking out the non-eutactic blades and the GEP guns. So please, stick with the logic, prod with the logic, and remember, a non-lethal argument is always the most sensible argument.

In ancient times, before humanity invented agriculture, food was scarce. People ate what they could get, and if you were picky in any way, you simply didn't get to live. Understandably, vegetarianism wasn't really given much consideration back then.

Once humans managed to produce as much food as they needed, and in fact started rolling around in excess food, some people felt sufficiently relaxed about things to ask some questions: "If we have the option to pick and choose what we're going to eat, then what should we be eating? Are some foods healthier and more sustainable than others? How do we tackle this stuff?"

Vegetarianism is but one product of such thinking. Currently, there are easily hundreds of thousands of "diets" on the world. Many of them promise increased health and longevity, and some even claim that their way is more "ethical", or "environmentally sound". We're here now, as people who like sci-fi and thinking about the future to discuss the future of food.

How do you think humanity will be eating in the future? Explain your thoughts.

I'll start: I'm an ex-vegan myself. Got into it for health, believed the strong governmental recommendations of increased whole grain and decreased meat consumption, got sicker in the process, but ended up learning a lot about the ethical, social and environmental sides of these issues. My current diet that I'm happy with is sort of a mixed "paleo" diet, consisting of lots of vegetables, some meats and some fruits. Once again I am in it primarily for the health benefits. Ethically, I am against the unnecessary suffering of animals, but I leave it up to individuals to decide where they draw the line of "necessary". For instance, I oppose factory farming myself, but I also hunt (I don't hunt for sport, I eat what I kill) and believe hunters should be allowed to hunt in-season.

I strongly believe that ethics are subjective, that the only time society can set "laws" surrounding behavior and be reasonable is when it's directly affecting the society itself. I don't consider wild animals part of a human society, I don't believe their suffering, while certainly not a nice thing, is detrimental to a human society, and therefore I don't think human societies need to set any laws concerning animal suffering.

All this said, I also have a pretty strong feeling that the future will be vegetarian. Once we find a way to produce meat in labs that is identical to "real" meat, I believe governments and corporations and everyone will start scrutinizing "real" meat-eaters for "inflicting unnecessary suffering" and we will be "technically vegan". I don't really think we'll ever fully stop eating some sort of meat, be it lab meat or "ethically raised meat".

I have tons to say on this matter but first let's hear what you folks think!

TrickyVein
15th Mar 2012, 13:19
Thanks, Zerim. That's a wonderful introduction.

For now, I'd like to point out that decisions to become a vegan, go vegitarian, pescatarian or whatever are individual decisions; can be made by people who have the ability to change their diets. Increasingly - and this is only going to become worse as more people live in cities - there is a population of city-dwellers who never come into contact with growing food or seeing it walk on four legs, who simply do not know what real food is, who would not know how to prepare it and eat it even if it were available to them. People are not choosing to eat badly. They simply do not have a choice.

I believe that bad diets high in processed sugar are actually institutionalized. Much of this has to do with the glut of high-fructose corn syrup that the gov. started producing in the 70's and is still heavily subsidized (in the US). The government has a responsibility to more than educate but actually provide options for people and not just leave it up to the individual to make these choices. Otherwise there is an entire population of largely poor, uneducated people who are being visited upon disproportionately by diabetes and obesity. From a public health policy standpoint, this should take priority. We should be focusing on helping people who literally do not know what is good for them rather than targeting individuals who already have the means to change their eating behavior.

Farmer's markets are gaining in popularity and number in many places in Baltimore where I live. Unfortunately, none of them (that I know of) are being set up in W. Baltimore. They are targeting a wealthy population that can afford to blow cash on specialty items like goat's cheese and other 'WTF-kind-of-herb-is-that-and-why-is-it-so-expensive' things. There's also the issue of white-flight from urban centers and establishing produce markets outside of the city. If stores were actually to be located away from suburbia - itself horribly unsustainable - then I absolutely guarantee that people would be making better choices for themselves. Food is at the center, or very near center of culture. People love to eat and hover around the kitchen, and I would go so far to suggest that taking away real food from people has not allowed more families to grow up functionally or successfully in the city because there's no bonding, no connection over preparing food and celebrating it. Can you imagine a family sitting down to a Sunday dinner of SpriteĀ® and DoritosĀ®, then a desert of HostessĀ®'s pies?

Zerim
15th Mar 2012, 15:02
Great post, TrickyVein. While you kind of turned the discussion from the "Vegetarian" debate to the "Health" debate with it, the points you brought up are very relevant and solid nonetheless, and do not really take the thread in an entirely different direction.

Personally, I am for the minimization of government control over people's choices. I have several main reasons for this:

#1: That's Terror
#2: That's Terror
#3: Giving power to the government or other institutions to control aspects of people's lives have a great potential to eventually backfire. Having other people choose for us can have severe consequences if and when they make the wrong choices for us. For instance on this diet and health topic; right now the U.S. government and organizations like the World Health Organization recommend a diet based on whole grains as a healthy diet for most people. When in fact there are several very well educated free researchers in the field who would argue (very convincingly) that grains actually are very damaging to human health. If we have the government telling us what to eat, or taxing certain foods and subsidizing others, we're essentially being robbed of our freedom to choose what we want to consume. I am 100% for education, but I don't think these organizations should be given power to choose for other people.

#4: This is more of a philosophical reason, but I think that people should be allowed to decide what they want to do to their own bodies. I have a feeling I might've misunderstood what you were saying, but you said:


We should be focusing on helping people who literally do not know what is good for them rather than targeting individuals who already have the means to change their eating behavior.

I am all for educating folks who WANT to eat well but don't know what that means. But I am against governments or other people ultimately making these choices FOR them. Adults should have the right to choose what they want to do with their own body. Take my mom for instance. She's overweight and a heavy smoker; I work at a gym for a living. I begged her to stop smoking and take good care of herself in the past. But eventually I realized something: This woman is an adult. She fully understands that cigarettes are bad for her health, but smoking them is a sacrifice she's willing to make for her quality of life; she simply enjoys cigarettes. Her body, her life- we really have no right to take that away from people when it's only effecting them. So, using my mom as an example; I believe governments and other institutions should provide the INFORMATION that she might need to base her ultimate choices on, but they shouldn't do anything more than that. Just provide folks with choices, explain to them the likely consequences of these choices, and then let them choose.

Again, I just re-read your post and I do have a feeling that this was what you meant already, but even if that's the case at least this post might be useful in providing a perspective for folks who are new to this whole debate.

Shralla
15th Mar 2012, 18:16
We were built to be omnivores, we still are omnivores, complete proteins are literally impossible to get in plant-based foods, and if the world ever goes to hell (which is looking more and more likely every week), every single one of us will be right back to eating regular old meat, and I'd rather not be puking for the first week of it.

The issue of how we treat the animals we use for food (or really, how we treat animals at all) has nothing to do with whether or not that act is detrimental to our society, but rather to how the act reflects upon our society. If we're socially advanced enough to choose to stop eating meat, we're sure as hell socially advanced enough to realize that senseless cruelty towards animals, even those we are going to be consuming, is a black mark on our society because as a number of intelligent people have said throughout the years, the true measure of a man (and as such, a society), is not what they do when other are around, it's what they do when they think nobody is looking or nobody cares. I don't know if I would go so far as to call the issue a moral or ethical one, but I think how we handle it show our attitude towards our responsibility as the caretakers of the planet. If we can't even treat completely harmless, cooperative animals that we keep for food with respect, how can we treat each other with respect in the face of all the insults and differences in beliefs?

Umodian
15th Mar 2012, 19:15
^ Agreed 100%.

Lady_Of_The_Vine
15th Mar 2012, 23:31
Fab thread, Zerim! :thumb:



We were built to be omnivores, we still are omnivores...
Agreed. We can eat both plants and animals. We are opportunistic eaters.


...complete proteins are literally impossible to get in plant-based foods...
Perhaps I've misunderstood you, but this is incorrect. Foods that provide "complete" protein are those that include all of the essential amino acid. Eggs, dairy foods, meat, fish and poultry are typically considered to be complete proteins. Vegetarians just exclude the meat; and vegetarians and vegans can easily obtain all of the essential amino acids by eating a variety of beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vitamin B12 is the elusive substance but it can easily be found in fortified foods such as cereal and Marmite (you either love it or you hate it).

Senka
16th Mar 2012, 00:33
We evolved to be omnivores
Fixed. Unless you were using built in a way to imply evolved.

TrickyVein
16th Mar 2012, 03:48
Mmmmm...protein. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lentil)

Right, Zerim. I understand your sentiment. The science on what exactly should be in a healthy diet seems to change with the seasons, so a top-down directed approach to getting people to eat 'healthy' is problematical. As to your original question,


How do you think humanity will be eating in the future?

I think probably in categories. Categories of people who are eating and those who aren't; of those who can, a great majority of them living on genetically modified food crops to provide vitamins and other amino acids and anything else that we can no longer get from failed and depleted ecosystems (this is more or less happening now); smaller subdivisions of people who have access to real fruit and other other commodities that can still be shipped across the world as they are now but are probably increasingly, prohibitively expensive (Orange Juice used to be 2 for $5...not it's 2 for $6! OMG!!!); only a very small percentage still able to enjoy the comparative glut of food we have today. Who falls into these categories depends on which nations are members of the World Bank.

But that's being pessimistic. There will be no fish that aren't farmed by humans to be consumed probably within my lifetime. That's (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0515_030515_fishdecline.html) being (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6108414.stm) a realist (http://news.discovery.com/animals/freshwater-fish-population-decline.html).

Agent Denton
16th Mar 2012, 17:12
To the OP

I am a huge proponent of food. I am also aware that Monsanto is destroying our food supply with their GMO crops. GMO crops came onto the market in the last 1/2 century and since their introduction into the food supply, human health has taken a beating ranging from epidemics of childhood diabetes, obesity, ADHD, ADD, and not to mention the range of digestive issues people are suffering from such as Crohn's.

I had stomach issues for 4 years. Went to Dr's on and off and none of them recommended changing my diet. One of them finally diagnosed me with acid reflux and stated my insides were severely inflamed. I took it upon myself to make the change to a juice based diet. 2 juices a day, 1 in the morning with only fruit and one in the evening with only veggies. For lunch I still slack off sometimes but mainly try to include as much meat in my lunch as possible. Went back to the Dr two months later, had him do an abdominal exam and presto. everything was normal. Since then I have felt better than I have in years and will advocate for organic diets for anyone considering eating healthy. I operate under the assumption that if it is not labeled as organic, then it is GMO and I avoid it for my juicing. I avoid things that have Soy, and are processed in general. Soy is almost all GMO and we have Monsanto and consumer ignorance to thank for that.

Mind you since I have been on my juice kick I am off the prescription (PRILOSEC OTC) and have no plans to get back on it. I am still not %100 but like I said, I have been feeling better and my insides healed themselves.

It is up to us to remain vigilant and informed about what we are eating because there is a food war going on. And the government and Monsanto are guilty of poisoning the population at large.

The best medicine for you is in the food aisle if you know what you are buying. Like the saying goes:"Let thy food by thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food."


As far as eating for the future. Seeds are worth more than their weight in gold. People need to start getting ready because the grid will come down sooner rather than later.

Really good thread.

Shralla
16th Mar 2012, 19:07
Perhaps I've misunderstood you, but this is incorrect. Foods that provide "complete" protein are those that include all of the essential amino acid. Eggs, dairy foods, meat, fish and poultry are typically considered to be complete proteins. Vegetarians just exclude the meat; and vegetarians and vegans can easily obtain all of the essential amino acids by eating a variety of beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

Sorry, I meant that complete proteins are obtainable from any single meat source, while the plant-based sources require the consumption of multiple kinds to provide the complete protein. Not really a huge inconvenience, I know, but it's enough to convince me that meat isn't worth giving up (amongst the other things I said in my post).

And yeah Senka, I more or less meant evolved. But even if somebody wanted to go the whole creationism route, I still think they would have a hard time saying that we're not supposed to eat meat, especially if GOD made us that way.

TrickyVein
16th Mar 2012, 19:22
It is up to us to remain vigilant and informed about what we are eating because there is a food war going on. And the government and Monsanto are guilty of poisoning the population at large.

:thumb::thumb::thumb:

I just feel bad that not enough people are aware, or that the information is reaching the populations that are in the most need...

Lady_Of_The_Vine
16th Mar 2012, 23:03
Sorry, I meant that complete proteins are obtainable from any single meat source, while the plant-based sources require the consumption of multiple kinds to provide the complete protein.

I see what you mean now, my bad.
It's very easy to eat a balanced diet and get all the protein you need though. It's not all about fruit nuts, pulses and vegetables (as delicious and healthy as they are). Just like you, I can eat a single meat-free source like a burger or sausage, but made from soybean protein or Quorn instead. They both provide "complete protein" in one source, equivalent to your meat burger or sausage (but less the fat).


Not really a huge inconvenience, I know, but it's enough to convince me that meat isn't worth giving up (amongst the other things I said in my post).
Honestly, it isn't any inconvenience at all. It's really very easy to be a vegetarian. Still, you don't even have to give meat up completely, you could choose to reduce the amount of meat you consume for health reasons.


And yeah Senka, I more or less meant evolved. But even if somebody wanted to go the whole creationism route, I still think they would have a hard time saying that we're not supposed to eat meat, especially if GOD made us that way.

I don't think there is any serious argument out there that disagrees one way or the other, simply because it is logically agreed that we are opportunist eaters - so we are neither supposed to eat just meat or plant-based foods. We can eat most things that help us to remain healthy and survive.

Mustapha Mond
18th Mar 2012, 21:41
I was an inadvertent vegetarian for about a year. I was never a huge eater of red meat, despite my being from Texas. During my year or so without meat, I never noticed any problems with fatigue. As far as I knew, I was in good health. I ate complex carbohydrates, veggies, fruits, nuts, and occasionally a meat substitute.

I think there are valid arguments for both positions, but I'm not enough of an expert to make a personal comment. The moral issue of meat-eating is kinda tricky. I realize that the conditions of most factory farms are pretty horrific, and I would say that the vast majority of the public is aware of that. But I think the argument gets interesting when factoring in the social aspect -- more specifically, nutrition and socioeconomic standing.

I've personally had a lot of issues manifest around food in the form of under eating and subsequent binging. So for me, I try to steer clear of having certain "rules" around food that might trigger that latent rigidity. I follow a tenuous meal plan, which uses macronutrient exchanges (for example, 2 starches, 1 fruit, 1 fat, 3 oz protein). I could easily use the same formula with vegetarian substitutes according to a nutritionist with whom I used in the past, but it's not financially feasible for me at the moment.

TrickyVein
18th Mar 2012, 22:30
Hmm. "...under eating and subequent binging" you say? Sounds like bulimia? (I'm not accusing at all, just that's what it sounds like.) I believe that eating meat more than once a day is too much and unhealthy and guilt-inducing. Are the kinds of binges you're talking about 'meat-binges?' What would that even be?

Mustapha Mond
19th Mar 2012, 00:16
Hmm. "...under eating and subequent binging" you say? Sounds like bulimia? (I'm not accusing at all, just that's what it sounds like.) I believe that eating meat more than once a day is too much and unhealthy and guilt-inducing. Are the kinds of binges you're talking about 'meat-binges?' What would that even be?

Oh, hehe, sorry for not clarifying. Nah, I wouldn't binge on meat, more like carbs and other junk food. While I would "purge", it wasn't in the traditional sense (vomiting). I would usually over exercise or use some other method. It's technically bulimia, but I don't identify as bulimic. The clinical definitions of eating disorders are pretty stringent, which I think is somewhat silly because those who don't meet the criteria often use that as a means of justifying -- and continuing -- their unhealthy eating practices. My main sources of protein are nuts and fish, though I'm not opposed to poultry. I used to be a boca burger fanatic, but those can get expensive.