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Busting myths about protein

young woman smiling
4 min read
AUTHOR: Jess Bradley
DNA helix

This week, the Food Matters Live podcast spoke to Amy Huang, a University Innovation Manager from the Good Food Institute, about the importance of creating a new generation of alternative protein scientists. 

From lab-grown meat, to new plant-based products, it’s a really exciting and inspiring sector. As we face daily challenges to alter lifestyles and consumer behaviour to protect the planet, find out why these scientists are such key players in the fight for humanity.

And in case you want to learn more about protein production and nutrition, we’ve rounded up some of the archive episodes we’ve previously released. There’s some great myth busting and facts about the reality of protein in our diets and on our planet. 

The truth about protein

Did you know that your bicep muscle will entirely replace itself within 2 weeks? This means the turnover of protein in the body is quite rapid, but are all proteins the same? And do we really need as much of it as you would be led to believe?

In this episode, Stefan Gates speaks to Dr Richard MacKenzie, the Director for Sport & Exercise Science Research Group at Roehampton University, as they delve into the science and nutrition of protein consumption. 

Find out what Dr Richard really thinks about popular protein shakes, and whether they’re really relevant to the average person’s diet, and find out exactly why it’s so hard to understand precisely how much protein we need. 

Insects for dinner: Do we have a duty of care?

On the podcast, we’ve heard regularly from companies selling packs of edible insects, or clever recipe kits that come with a pack of bugs. Insect-based pet foods are taking off, as are insect protein bars, and even pastures fortified with insect protein. Now often dismissed as a gimmick, these companies are still raising large amounts of money and have remained remarkably resilient. But what’s it like to be an insect? What’s it like to be part of one ridiculously gigantic family with literally 1000s and 1000s of brothers and sisters?

Although some may see the questions around insects as silly, Stefan and Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication at the University of Gloucestershire and Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, dive deeper into the ethical practises of farming insects. What should we consider when using insects as a protein source?

Adam discusses the importance of insects as the fabric of our ecosystem. They’re predators, prey and pollinators just to name a few of their roles. With any animal used as protein, there are ethical considerations, but if the environmental damage caused in traditional farming could be reduced by utilising insects, could they also change the world another way?

George Monbiot: ‘Protein production must move from farm to factory’

George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental activist, and in his own words is obsessed with soil. The health, the structure and the ecological function of soil is absolutely essential to sustaining our food supply. That fertility is as much a function of soil biology as it is a function of soil chemistry.

George talks at length about the damage caused from intensive farming that has been growing in popularity across the UK. 

“It’s horrendous for animal welfare. It requires huge amounts of imported grain, huge amounts of antibiotics, it produces a massive surfeit of dung, because you’re pouring so much grain funnelling it through these animals in these huge barns. That all comes out in the excrement. What are you going to do with it? You spread it on the fields and you say its fertilising the fields, but there’s far too much for the fields to absorb. So it runs off into the rivers and it kills the rivers”

One of the ways to tackle this is to move protein production from the farm to the factory. The conversation highlights many of the ways that people might be horrified by this suggestion, including the hesitation to eat food grown in factories, or bacteria. 

Listen to the full episode to find out why these hang ups are misplaced, and the revolutionary consequences it could produce for the planet and humanity.


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