Vegan Cheese: Biohackers Are Growing Real Cheese In A Lab, No Cow Needed

If you're a vegan, cheese options are limited. There are high-quality vegan cheeses out there, but they just don't taste the same, and they're mostly soft-- it's difficult to make any sort of hard vegan cheese, like gouda or cheddar. A team of Bay Area biohackers is trying to create a new option: real vegan cheese. That is, cheese derived from baker's yeast that has been modified to produce real milk proteins. It's the same as cow cheese, but made without the cow. Think of it as the cheese equivalent of lab-grown meat.

The journey towards vegan cheese began a few years ago, when synthetic biologist Marc Juul started thinking about the genetic engineering possibilities. Now, Juul and a group of people from two Bay Area biohacker spaces, Counter Culture Labs and BioCurious, are trying to create a finished product in time for the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition--a global synthetic biology competition--in October. So far, they've raised over $16,000 on Indiegogo to do it.

The vegan cheese team does have a number of vegan and vegetarian members, as well as others passionate about the challenge and the prospect of having cheese that doesn't require the mistreatment of cows. "We're blessed in the Bay Area. There are lots of great cheeses produced north of San Francisco--small scale, organic, free-range, small cheese manufacturers. But that doesn’t hold for most cheese currently being made," says Patrik D'haeseleer, a computational biologist on the team.

In order to get baker's yeast to produce milk proteins, the team scoured animal genomes to come up with milk-protein genetic sequences. Those sequences are then inserted into yeast, where they can produce milk protein. Once the protein is purified, it needs to be mixed with a vegan milk-fat replacement, sugar (not lactose, so that the cheese will be edible by the lactose intolerant among us), and water to create vegan milk. Then the normal cheese-making process can commence. The team wants to start with a cheddar or gouda to satisfy vegan cravings for hard cheese.

"There are lots of naturally occurring cheese proteins that have naturally occurring [positive] health effects. We can pick and choose variants we want to use," says D'haeseleer. He stresses that the end product is GMO free. While the yeast is genetically modified, the purified proteins secreted by the yeast are not. Rennet used in traditional cheese is produced in a similar manner, using GMO E.coli bacteria.

Research is still in the early stages. By October, the team hopes to have four of the casein (milk) proteins produced and verified, along with the enzyme that attaches phosphate groups to these proteins. Ideally, the team would also like to demonstrate that it can coagulate the ingredients into cheese.

"At that point, we might have a small amount of what we might call cheese, on the order of grams or milligrams. Then we can start talking about how to scale it up," says D'haeseleer. "When it gets into the art and science of cheesemaking, we would probably collaborate with a real cheesemaker at that point. That's a whole different skillset."

In theory, they can make vegan cheese from any mammal's DNA--including humans and other mammals. If the team reaches its stretch goal of $20,000, it plans to create Narwhal cheese, working with researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz on genetic sequencing and analysis.

All of the research is going up on a public wiki, but some of the team members may reportedly be interested in pursuing this full-time eventually. "10 years ago, this kind of science wouldn’t have been possible," says D'haeseleer. "For synthetic biology, it's gotten to the point where a team of biohackers like us can accomplish this."

source: fastcoexist.com

98 Year Old Vegan Doctor

This video is an interview with Dr. Ellsworth Wareham. Dr. Wareham is retired cardiothoracic surgeon. He retired when he was 95 years old. He is currently 98 years old. He is also a vegan.  He has been a vegan since his 50's.

He believes his healthful lifestyle contributes to his longevity, and he points to Loma Linda's Adventist Health Studies as evidence.

Dr. Ellsworth managed his weight by eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and then there's his philosophy of life.

Where to vegans get their protein from?

"Where do you get your protein from" This is the first question most vegans are asked. Our friend at bitesizevegan.com presents a video which seeks to answer this question. She presents numerous protein sources for vegan.

"Despite the advertising hype from the meat and dairy industries, humans require an extraordinarily low amount of protein in their diets." - Dr. Douglas Graham

1200 calorie meal from a vegan weightlifter

A 1200 calorie meal with only 3 grams of fat and 50 grams of protein. He is a professional athlete. He suggests that most people only need 100 grams of protein per day. Check out this video.

How to become a vegan

If you are looking to become a vegan, here's a video from brownvegan.com that offers you some nice tips and options which will help you to transition from being an omnivore to becoming a vegan.

21 cases of salmonella result in chia seed powder recall

chia-seeds Many of you are aware that we have discussed the issues regarding Vega's products. Below is an article from the Chicago Tribune about salmonella found in various powders, including chia seed powder. This has resulting in many recalls. Some of the products being recalled are from Navitas Naturals, Brands Williams-Sonoma Inc, Green Smoothie Girl and Health Matters. These recalls are voluntary.  According to the FDA, at least 21 people in different 12 states have been infected with salmonella this month. They are indicating that  the most likely reason for this is because of chia powder that they consumed. Here's the entire article: Salmonella has been found in a health food powder, spurring product recalls in the United States and the launch of a multistate health investigation, federal officials said on Friday. Chia seed powder, commonly used in smoothies and snacks for its nutritional value, has sickened at least 21 people across the United States "It is the first time that chia powder has been identified as a food that transmits salmonella," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigator Dr. Laura Gieraltowski. Salmonella, the most common foodborne illness usually found in meat and egg products, sickens about 1.2 million people in the United States and results in 450 deaths each year, according to the CDC. The number of chia-linked salmonella outbreaks is extremely low compared with illnesses caused by other foods. However, the powder's long shelf life and small serving size could mean that more people are getting ill but do not realize it, Gieraltowski said. "People are just getting sick at a slower rate," Gieraltowski said. Last month, state and federal officials began investigating 11 reports of salmonella outbreaks across the United States that were eventually traced back to chia powder. Investigators identified two new strains of salmonella in the powder, named Hartford and Newport. Many of those sickened reported having vegan, vegetarian or largely organic diets, Gieraltowski said. They had a median age of 49. Chia powder, made from finely ground, sprouted chia seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has been made popular, in part, by a demand for gluten-free and health food products. While it is unknown how salmonella is transmitted trough chia seeds, sprouted seeds have been known to conduct salmonella and E. coli, she said. Some 34 additional infections tied to chia powder foods were recently reported in Canada, the CDC said in a statement. This month, Navitas Naturals brand expanded a voluntary recall, started in late May, of multiple nutritional powder products containing chia powder, the CDC said. Brands Williams-Sonoma Inc, Green Smoothie Girl and Health Matters America also launched recalls this month of chia products over salmonella concerns. source: chicagotribune.com

Fresh From The Garden – Free Kindle Book – Today Only

fresh from the gardenFree is always good, right? Fresh from the Garden Recipes:: A Bounty of 120 Dishes Featuring Fresh Produce is available for free today only at Amazon. If you're ready to "buy" it, here's a link: http://veganbits.com/fresh-from-the-garden

I have no read it yet, but I just picked up a copy. I would normally read the entire book and then have the Mrs. make a few recipes and then submit our review of the book, but since it's free for today only, I just decided to write a quick note to let you know about it...

If you want to know more about it, here's a snippet from Amazon:

This Harvest-Filled Cookbook is the Best of the Crop!

After long hours or planting and days of water an weeding have finally paid off and your back-yard garden is ready for the picking!

But finding inspiring ways of enjoying your plentiful harvest of homegrown fruits and vegetables can sometimes be challenging. Well, you can drop the shovel and start digging into Fresh from the Garden Recipes to find a bounty of 120 dishes featuring fresh produce instead.

This cookbook has a collection of 120 recipes full of fresh ideas for soups and salads, main dishes, desserts and more, all requiring for fresh ingredients straight from your garden, fruit tree or berry patch.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, all you need to do is visit your local farmers markets and supermarket for a supply of fresh produce throughout the year. You will then be able to turn to the pages of this cookbook regardless of the season!

But before you find you find your produce, turn to the “Guide to Vegetables” at the beginning of the book. There you will find all the tips and tricks for picking (or buying), storing, preparing, and cooking the fresh ingredients featured in this cookbook.

With Fresh from the Garden Recipes in your cookbook collection, you will soon be harvesting a bounty of compliments and praises from your family and friends.

fresh from the garden

 

 

Organic Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Clean Nor Toxin-Free

500px-USDA_organic_seal_svgBuying organic food is an exercise in personal virtue: You pay more to consume food that's healthier for you and less damaging to the environment because it's grown without artificial or toxic chemicals.

This powerful perception, based more on belief than facts, goes a long way toward explaining why demand for organic products has grown so much. Organic sales have more than tripled in the past decade, to more than $30 billion a year, while sales of conventional food products have dawdled along at an annual growth rate of about 2 percent.

There's just one huge problem: Neither of the main assumptions driving the growth of organic farming are grounded in science. In fact, there is evidence that organic farms produce as much, or more, pollution than conventional farms and that organic products might actually contain more toxins than other foods.

Like all farms, those that grow organic products rely on fertilizer. Often, organic farmers use animal manure rather than chemicals derived from petroleum or minerals.

In one study of greenhouses in Israel, the use of manure led to much more nitrogen leaching into groundwater compared with use of conventional fertilization. Nitrogen contamination, the study noted, is one of the main reasons for closing drinking-water wells. And by the way, nitrogen from all sorts of farming is one of the main pollutants behind algae blooms, fish kills and dead zones in bodies of water from local farm ponds to the northern Gulf of Mexico.

A broader study of 12 different farm products in California found that in seven cases, those using conventional methods had lower greenhouse-gas emissions. A big reason for the difference? Conventional farming tends to be more efficient than organic farming, meaning fewer inputs are needed to generate the same amount of food.

That hits on a critical issue for organic farming, as noted in a 2012 analysis of more than 100 studies of farming methods across Europe: Getting the same unit production from organic farming tended to lead to "higher ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions." And while organic farming tends to use less energy, it also leads to "higher land use, eutrophication potential" -- that's the dead zones mentioned above -- "and acidification potential per product unit."

The main author of the study, Hanna Tuomisto, a professor at Oxford University, said:

Many people think that organic farming has intrinsically lower environmental impacts than conventional farming but the literature tells us this is not the case. Whilst some organic farming practices do have less environmental impact than conventional ones, the published evidence suggests that others are actually worse for some aspects of the environment. People need to realize that an "organic" label is not a straightforward guarantee of the most environmentally-friendly product.

Organic animal production also can cause problems. Unlike conventional farms, organic farms usually let animals wander around. No surprise that animals then do their business wherever nature calls. Rain, in turn, washes waste into local streams and rivers. Think of that next time you see free-range something on the menu. By comparison, conventional farms can (although they don't always) confine waste to covered areas. This prevents exposure to rain that causes polluted runoff.

As for health benefits, the evidence suggests there's no distinguishable difference in nutritional value between organics and other food. Some types of organic production, notably the use of manure concentrations, actually lead to higher levels of toxins in food. One study in Belgium found that organically cultivated winter wheat had higher levels of lead and cadmium than conventionally grown wheat. The levels were below tolerable limits, and processing could have removed some of the contaminants.

So are you worried now? You shouldn't be. Buy what you like to eat whether it's organic or not -- unless you're watching your food budget, in which case the choice is clear.

To contact the author of this article: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Lisa Beyer at lbeyer3@bloomberg.net.

Source: http://www.bloombergview.com

Video: James Cameron promotes vegan lifestyle

This video featuring James Cameron, Director, Producer, Explorer, and Conservationist tells an audience at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conference that the true conservationists of the future must be strict vegans. Citing statistics and hailing the movie "Forks Over Knives", Cameron notes that creating animal food products for human consumption generates one and a half times the carbon as the entire global transportation system. Eating plants only will be the mark of conservationists of the future who are walking the walk.

James Cameron give money to school to go vegan

Photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/fruits-fruit-apples-food-69025/

Photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/fruits-fruit-apples-food-69025/

As we've been reporting, the quest to get more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into public schools has once again gotten political.

But in spite of the new, federal standards for school nutrition, "changing a school lunch cafeteria, especially those that participate in the National School Lunch Program, it is like turning around the Titanic," says Susan Levin, director of nutrition for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Education.

However, if you happen to have performed in the movie Titanic, as Suzy Amis Cameron did, and you happen to have founded a private school that you and your world-famous director husband support, as Amis Cameron also has, then maybe revamping a school cafeteria isn't such a tall task. You might even be able to eliminate meat and dairy altogether, and create the first plant-based school in the U.S.

A lot of schools lately have been making incremental changes toward more plant-based options, says Levin. Take the Meatless Monday program, which is now in hundreds of K-12 public and private schools. One public school, P.S. 24, in Flushing, N.Y., even went completely vegetarian.

But Amis Cameron's plan for MUSE School CA, the environmentally focused school in Calabasas, Calif., that she founded with her sister, Rebecca Amis, in 2006, is even more ambitious.

"We are gradually moving toward a plant-based menu because we do call ourselves an environmental school," Amis Cameron tells The Salt. "Within the next year and a half, we will be plant-based."

Private schools like MUSE School CA, of course, have a lot more flexibility when it comes to deciding what goes on, and what comes off, the menu.

Already, the school has a strong seed-to-table program that's producing fresh fruits and vegetables grown by its 140 students. They're guided by the school's full-time, year-round gardener and educator, Paul Hudak.

He and students at the school's two campuses in Malibu Canyon have built 28 raised beds to grow peppers, greens, tomatoes, herbs and other edibles, plus flowers. The older students will also be selling some of the food grown over the summer to local restaurants.

Hudak says now that the schools are growing produce year-round, they can supply up to 20 percent of the food consumed in the cafeterias, depending on the season. "Once we really get cranking, I think we'll be up to 40 or 50 percent," Hudak says.

The Origins Of MUSE School CA

Food played a role in sparking Amis Cameron's motivation to start the school in the first place. She and her husband, James Cameron, one of the world's most successful directors (yes, Avatar, the Terminator films and Titantic), have five children, including one from her previous marriage. The family splits its time between their home in Malibu, their ranch in Santa Barbara and their 3,500-acre farm in New Zealand.

As she phased out modeling and acting in the late '90s, Amis Cameron focused on her children and their education. And as she did, she says, she became increasingly frustrated with the schools they were in: "They were really wanting to put our children in a box."

"The school she was going to — that touted itself as an environmental school — was teaching my child to count with M&M's," Amis Cameron says. "And everything in my life came to a screeching halt."

She and James started talking about the possibility of starting their own school for their children and other kids whose parents were looking for an alternative to the schools in Malibu.

"Jim was trying to decide between doing more deep-ocean exploration, or make a little film called Avatar," says Amis Cameron. "He decided to make Avatar, and I decided to start MUSE. And off we went in our different ventures. Now, nine to 10 years later, it's all coming full circle, dovetailing."

While MUSE School CA has grown to 140 students — two are Camerons, and half receive financial aid — it's still not an accredited school, though Amis Cameron says they're working on that.

She and her sister, Rebecca, have tried to walk the sustainability talk on campus, using recycled materials to build the classrooms, installing solar "flowers" designed and donated by James to power the school with renewable energy, and by hiring a resident falconer whose hawks eat rodents and eliminate the need for pesticides.

The Camerons Go Vegan

Over time, the Camerons' environmentalism — which features heavily in the ecological destruction narrative of Avatar — has become more and more centered around food.

The turn happened, Amis Cameron says, when the couple went vegan in 2012 after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives. The film emphasizes the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and that initially compelled them to empty the cupboards and fridges of all dairy and meat products.

"But what has really been a major eye opener is the connection between food and the environment," says Amis Cameron. "Now, we're benefiting greatly from eating plant-based, as are our children, but the environmental piece has become really our sole focus."

While there is a consensus that the meat industry has taken a heavy toll on the environment, few people agree on what to do about it.

And many environmental scientists are not convinced the solution is for everyone to give up animal products — especially people in the developing world who haven't had ready access to them.

One recent study we reported on argued that to prevent more greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector, we'll get the biggest bang for the buck by helping producers become more efficient and keeping land from being converted for grazing. The researchers say that while consumers in rich countries could stand to eat less meat, it's not realistic to expect us to give it up entirely.

"It's not a matter of giving up meat. It's a matter of shifting to other kinds that have less climate impacts," one scientist told us. So, not as much beef and pork, and maybe more farmed fish and insects.

In addition to transforming MUSE School CA into a vegan school, Amis Cameron is writing books on the environmental impacts of meat production for different demographics — moms, teens, children and thought leaders, she says. The Camerons also regularly give speeches where they talk about their newfound veganism and why they're primarily motivated by concern for the planet.

"Any extra bandwidth that we have is spent on that piece and ... bringing that message out into the world," she says. "We have an amazing platform."

But even with all their influence, Amis Cameron admits that it hasn't been easy to convince other parents at MUSE School CA that the chicken, turkey and cheese currently served at the school have to go.

"Food is a very sensitive subject for so many people," she says. "People have their cultural reasons for eating meat, their traditional reasons, their likes and dislikes. But slowly we are offering educational programs through MUSE, for not only the children, mainly for the grownups, because the children, they live and breath [the environmental way] already."

Is Vegan Healthy For Kids?

Levin of PCRM says that a vegan diet can be healthy for kids — even the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has ruled that kids can get everything they need from plants alone.

"Most people assume it's so hard to make kids eat vegan — that it's easier to give them the chicken nuggets and the milk, and the cheese," says Levin. "But I don't think anyone could defend that they would be less healthy by not consuming animal products."

And while Levin sees MUSE School CA's move toward a vegan menu as an anomaly, she says she applauds what Amis Cameron is doing.

"They might be in a privileged position to advocate for dietary choice, but it ultimately shows other people how effective it is," says Levin.

And, Levin adds, many plant-based foods, like rice and beans, aren't prohibitively expensive for schools. "It shouldn't be an entitled program. You don't have to be rich to be plant-based."

The Camerons were the initial MUSE School CA donors, and continue to supply startup funds as the school has expanded from elementary to middle to a high school slated to open this fall. But Amis Cameron says the plan is for the school to become self-sustaining.

"We've capped what we give, and we decrease the amount every year," she says. "But, gosh, it's a great place to be a philanthropist."

Source: NPR