Monday, October 7, 2013

Poster of Science / Cooking Plant-Based but a Restaurant Omnivore

Back in undergrad classes involving terms such as "molecular" and "chemistry" did not appeal.  I wanted to learn about things I could see and understand, not some mumbo-jumbo concepts that seemed quite un-relateable to me and my field.  And like many of the things that I said I did not like in undergrad, I now am beginning to have an appreciation and even a growing fondness for molecular level science.  Not that I'm going to become a chemist or research scientist, but reading and understanding scientific papers regarding those topics is an interesting puzzle.

The scientific poster above, I designed for an article regarding PKM2's role in cancer and how siRNAs may be able to combat tumor growth.  A systematic approach was necessary to break down the article into understandable chunks.  It's like learning a different language, both reading it and writing it.  Both the purpose statements and summary section I composed.  My first drafts were a little too "creative."  I was actually making it harder on myself than necessary because it should be short, sweet, and directly to the point.  It needs to be as accurate as possible and extraneous information is like lying in this context.

Our next assignment is creating a PowerPoint on the article for a business audience.  It is again, learning a new language.  Yes, we have to make sure to tell the truth in the business context but the audience is going to have less of a scientific background.  The PowerPoint needs to lead to a certain conclusion (like how this could be a drug that makes lots of money and is very safe) but still stay scientifically accurate.  I have yet to crack this code, but I'm working on it!


Now to totally change up topics: how I eat and how I feel about it.  Over spring semester 2013, I slowly transitioned to a plant-based diet at home.  (I would define plant-based as a "almost vegan" who eats lots of fruits and veggies, avoids processed foods, and who doesn't freak out if some animal-based product is consumed.)  I emphasize "at home" because I am not vegan or even vegetarian and at this point I have no desire to become completely vegan or vegetarian.  I simply like to prepare plant-based food in my own kitchen.

Here's why:
-Easy to keep things low calorie
-I like fruits and vegetables
-Cheaper than buying meat
-I don't have to worry about undercooking meat
-It makes me feel healthy and happy
-I end up trying a lot of new foods

This seems all hunky-dory, no problems at all.  A girl can cook plant-based and still order a steak at a restaurant with no drama, right?  Or if she feels like staying vegetarian that day she can order the meatless entree and not have to explain herself.  Seems reasonable - but because food is such a social event and part of our culture, there are a lot of people demanding answers to the crazy idea of being part-time vegan.

For some reason vegan seems to be an all-or-nothing category.  Though there are a lot of quiet vegans in existence, the ones the average person knows about is the vegan who is fanatical.  Preaches it like a religion and makes people feel uncomfortable about the topic in general because they make it a matter of ethics.  All I see is a chance to eat more fruits in vegetables!  It doesn't need to be scary and weird, it is so un-scary and un-weird it makes me laugh that people think it's so strange.  Soup, salads, stir-frys, burritos/tacos are all easily vegan.  Have you had a peanut butter sandwich?  Vegan.

Pumpkin-raisin oatmeal cookies - vegan

But on the other side, when I go to a restaurant - especially a nice restaurant - I'm not going to order a baked potato and steamed veggies just so I can stay plant-based when they have trained chefs who make delicious omnivore-tastic food.  My project research involves teaching a vegan diet, I have read, watched, and listened to a plentiful amount of scientifically-based data about the health benefits of eating vegan and the detriments of eating animal-products.  So ordering chicken or steak at a restaurant has given me a second of pause, "Am I killing myself with this entree???"

Pumpkin bread - vegan
The answer I've come to is NO - I'm shortening my life no more then getting into a car, walking outside, or even being in the city of Chicago.  Because being alive is a risk of being dead.  Who knows what could happen tomorrow, if I want that steak sandwich at a restaurant (I rarely eat out by the way) I'm going to order it and enjoy it. And the next morning I'll make myself oatmeal for breakfast, pack a salad for lunch, and have a veggie stir-fry with rice for dinner.  To me being plant-based and a meat-eater can happen simultaneously.  There are a bunch of people out there who will strongly disagree with me, but I also see a more relaxed view of plant-based rules making it so much more accessible to the general public.  Plant-based/vegan shouldn't be a secret club for the food elite.  Everyone should know how truly delicious a salad can be.  But Blue Bunny Premium Chunky Chocolate Chip Ice Cream should not be blacklisted because it is delicious.

Ice cream - not vegan but worth it!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post Audrey. Your perspective is unique. I agree that vegan isn't cause for elitism and that it certainly needn't be as militant as some can make it. If i go to a restaurant and they serve me non-dairy baked bread that has a light butter film on the top - I generally eat it. *cue theatrical gasp*

    Some would call me an untrue vegan for this. It's a film of butter. I'm still going to pass on 99.9% of honey/dairy/meat that comes my way and ask for substitutions when I eat out but I certainly won't sweat the minutiae. Let the critics waste their breath. Any one taking a step towards anything remotely close to a plant based diet should be heralded in this generation of cheese puffs and diet soda.

    P.s -another awesome blog you may be aware of already -