I gave up meat on a bit of a whim after reading one of those popular paperbacks arguing for the nutritional and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet void of anything factory farmed. I'm glad I did it. With other lifestyle changes, it helped me shed a ton of weight and get closer to my food and my community. At the time, I thought I'd give it a try and see how it went and never committed to go entirely vegetarian or vegan, though I've dabbled in both over the past six years and I've learned a lot about myself and about my body along the way. Eliminating things from your diet can be a fun challenge that can open your mind to entirely new ideas of what constitutes a "meal."
When I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating fast food and I cut out a lot of "processed" foods, too. The stuff that filled my grocery cart, pantry, and fridge took on entirely new meanings and appearances. My family looked at me like I was nuts for the first few years and my grandma forgot to mention the occasional turkey neck that went into her delicious "vegetable" soups. Dining out and grabbing food on the go also became more interesting and challenging for all the obvious reasons.
|what food companies contemplate as they develop new products|
|While I was in Chicago, I made a trip to Eatily. It was amazing.|
At the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting at Experimental Biology in San Diego, I sat in on really scientific sessions on protein requirements, biofortified staple food crops, sustainable diets, and malnutrition and inflammation.
|A catch-all definition with many contradictions|
I spoke with some of the world's leading scientists on hidden hunger, human breast milk, lipidomics, and functional foods and was invited to speak with ASN's Public Policy Committee. Words can't do my experience justice. I was in awe of it all and so much of the science was incomprehensible; it's been a long time since I've studied molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology, or biochemistry. [The full program for that conference is here.]
But here's the rub.
While a lot of the hard science went right over my head, I was able to understand some of the big picture conclusions coming out of scientific research that the media just isn't picking up on. I learned how important it is to space your protein out throughout the day and how hard it is to get all the amino acids you need for healthy cellular function without animal protein.
|How exactly do scientists measure sustainability?|
The slides to the right are just a few of the ones presented during the sustainability session, which got really detailed into cost per nutrient density and carbon footprint
There are no hard and fast truths when it comes to the way we eat.
|Carbon footprint isn't the only way to measure sustainability|
|Lots of variables!|
I can't help but think sometimes that it must be a little luxurious not to care so much about the health of our bodies or our planet, but I'm incapable of caring any less, at least for the time being. And, I'm excited to keep learning and to be spreading knowledge within the scientific community and beyond. :-)
|I met Ellie Krieger of the Food Network's Healthy Appetitie in San Diego. :-)|
PS: Curious about the "books" my team publishes? Here's a link to some of our titles.