Aussielent RTD (Bottled Australian Soylent)

I went to the State Library over the weekend. I love the State Library. I love the atmosphere of the place. Most of the libraries near where I live are filled with weirdos, senior citizens, or high school kids, but the State Library is pretty much all filled with university students, and these people are usually very quiet and hardworking. I’ve also seen lots of digital nomads at the State Library as well.

I love how, when I walk out of the State Library, there is a yard where people play chess and then there are student lying on the grass. It’s a very lively place. All around are residential skyscrapers, so it feels like a youthful oasis in the middle of the city. I love it.

Anyway, I arrived at the State Library at around 11 a.m. and I left at around 5 p.m. so that meant I was working for about six hours straight! I was a bit sore from it all, but I was able to do all this work without taking a lunch break simply because I had a bottle of Aussielent RTD on me, and I was sipping on it the whole time. Pretty much whenever I felt hungry, I took a sip. There is no break for lunch or dinner. I just drink when I was hungry. After I was done with it, I threw the bottle in the recycling bin. It is very convenient. No more expensive meals, no cooking, no cleaning. I started drinking Aussielent RTD a few days ago. At first I drank Aussielent Body, which is a powdered version of the meal replacement shake, but the problem with this powdered version is that it didn’t taste good and it also wasn’t convenient. Having to mix powder with water is so inconvenient that I couldn’t bring the product to work or, in this case, to the library.

Aussielent RTD is in self-contained in a bottle, so you don’t need to mix it with anything. When I started drinking Aussielent RTD, I wasn’t a fan of the taste, but I think I’ve gotten used to the taste now, and I do like it. It is important, in my opinion, to keep it chilled in the refrigerator because warm Aussielent does not taste good! 

One if the main problems with the taste of Aussielent RTD is that it feels like drinking paint. It has a very plastic and artificial taste.

Whenever I go to work or whenever I go out of the house, I throw a bottle of Aussielent RTD in my bag. It has very sturdy wrapping, so I don’t need to worry about leakages. Then when I am hungry, rather than waste $10 to $20 eating out, I drink one bottle of Aussielent RTD. If you bulk buy four bottles at once, each bottle of Aussielent RTD works out to be about $4 each, so if you take it to work and drink it for lunch you will save money because one bottle is about the cost of a latte (and about five times the calories).

Another benefit of Aussielent RTD is that it has been engineered to include all the nutrients you need to live, so you don’t need to worry about nutritional deficiencies.

Aussielent RTD can be purchased online via aussielent.com.au.

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Deva Omega 3 DHA-EPA

In theory vegans do not need to take omega 3 supplements because there are many vegan foods with omega 3 in them, such as chia seeds or ground flaxseeds. Dr Michael Gregor recommends two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds per day to get your omega 3 requirements. However, the form of omega 3 in most plant food is ALA (alpha linoleic acid). DHA and EPA (which are important for brain function) can be made by the body using ALA, but the concern by some is that the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is not efficient.

The main sources of DHA and EPA are algae or fish. Fish get DHA and EPA from eating algae. The main concern with eating fish is the risk of industrial pollutants such as mercury. To avoid any concern about mercury, I take DHA and EPA supplements purchased off iHerb. These supplements contain DHA and EPA from algae grown on land in controlled conditions ensuring no industrial contaminants.

I am personally using the Deva Omega 3 DHA-EPA I have purchased off iHerb, but if there is one criticism I have it is that they have a very fishy taste and the capsules seem moist when you touch it. I have tried other omega 3 supplements that don’t seem to have this issue, such as the Source Naturals vegan omega 3 brand.

 

Q&A: Is Veganism Unnatural and Unhealthy?

Question: 

If being vegan necessitates having to eat food that have been fortified with nutrients artificially just to maintain a healthy body, does that mean the vegan diet is unhealthy?

Answer:

No, the vegan diet is healthy. Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient that does not come from plants. However, vitamin B12 is also not an animal product. Rather, vitamin B12 is derived from bacteria. As the vegan diet does not forbid food derived from bacteria, vitamin B12 in fortified food or from pills can be taken as part of a vegan diet.

In terms of whether taking an unnatural food is unhealthy, the answer is no. Processed or unnatural food is not necessarily unhealthy. This is the “appeal to nature” fallacy. There are no toxicology reports that prove that vitamin B12 is toxic and there is no scientific evidence that food that is processed is necessarily more toxic than food that is unprocessed.

What is natural?

There is significant industrialization nowadays that it’s very difficult to know what is natural or unnatural food.

The main problem with the term “natural” is that it is not scientific. There is no consistent definition.

Natural foods and all natural foods are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of definitions, most of which are vague. The term is often assumed to imply foods that are minimally processed and all of whose ingredients are natural products (in the chemist’s sense of that term), but the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the term assures nothing. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_foods

Most people believe that a natural product is one that has not been chemically altered or processed. However, even cooking a product chemically alters it, and so do we classify the cooked beans we ate as natural or not?

Some go as far as to say that a natural product is not cooked and is completely raw (see raw foodism). Natural food is only natural if you can pick it from the ground or from a tree and there is no human intervention thereafter.

However, even with this raw food definition, there is a problem because raw and unprocessed food is not necessarily healthy.

Death cap mushrooms

Death cap mushroom are very natural. You pick it from the ground and do not process it in any way. However, if you eat a death cap mushroom, you will die.

Amanita-phalloides061

Take another example. A multivitamin is highly processed yet it is healthy. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends you take a multivitamin every day.

Then there is water. Natural water is water from a pond. Pond water can provide us with nutrients. For example, pond water contains vitamin B12.

If vitamin B12 is found in pond water, why not drink pond water?

Pond water is likely to also contain dirt and feces. It is cleaner and healthier, rather than drinking natural pond water, to drink water from a tap, bottled water, or filtered water, all of which are processed and unnatural.

Of course, filtered water does not contain vitamin B12. However, vitamin B12 pills do contain vitamin B12.

Why not just take vitamin B12 pills?

Many will argue that vitamin B12 pills are not natural. But tap water or bottled water is not natural either. Pond water is natural. Do these people drink pond water rather than tap water?

Pond water may contain vitamin B12 but it also contains harmful germs. Likewise, meat contains vitamin B12 but also saturated fat and trans fat.

Supplements are not necessarily unhealthy

Some supplements are healthy and some supplements are unhealthy. Death cap mushrooms are natural but toxic. Aspirin is artificial, processed, but healthy.

As I said, tap water is unnatural and may even have flouride in it. Even salt is commonly fortified with iodine. Why is everything else in our lives unnatural (even non-vegan food) but we demand natural vegan food?

Is it just an excuse?

Conclusion

It is very hard to find food that is natural. Chances are, food is processed to some degree. Even if we grow a banana, we are taking seeds, sunlight, water, etc and then processing these in soil to grow a banana. If we did something chemically similar in a laboratory, would it be natural or not? Chemical reactions happen everywhere and humans intervene to start these chemical reactions. What really matters is not whether something is natural or not but whether it is toxic or not or if it is healthy.

Animal Protein vs Plant Protein

There are many who believe that eating a plant-based diet will leave them protein deficient.

It is easy to understand why many would believe this is the case. Below is a list of food ranked by the PDCAAS (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score), which is the measure of protein quality used by the World Health Organization. The list comes from Wikipedia.

1-1.21 cow’s milk
1-1.18 eggs
1 casein (milk protein)
1 soy protein
1 whey (milk protein)
0.99 mycoprotein
0.92 beef
0.91 soy
0.87 Sacha Inchi Powder
0.82 pea protein isolate
0.78 chickpeas and soybeans
0.75 black beans
0.74 tubercles
0.73 vegetables

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_Digestibility_Corrected_Amino_Acid_Score

Any food with a PDCAAS of 1.0 is a “perfect protein.” In 1990, the FAO/WHO decided that “proteins having values higher than 1.0 would be rounded or ‘leveled down’ to 1.0 as scores above 1.0 are considered to indicate the protein contains essential amino acids in excess of the human requirements.”

As you can see on the list, there are plenty of vegan options on that list that are equivalent to animal products. For example, rather than eat beef (0.92) you can eat soy (0.91). Rather than drink whey protein (1.0), you can drink soy protein (1.0).

However, someone eating, say, black beans, may believe that he would become protein deficient because black beans have a PDCAAS of 0.75.

However, people generally don’t eat the same food all the time. A key limitation of the PDCAAS is that it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that if you eat two or more foods with low PDCAAS, the combination of these foods can create a perfect PDCAAS of 1.0.

This concept is explained in the article: “[G]rain protein has a PDCAAS of about 0.4 to 0.5, limited by lysine. On the other hand, it contains more than enough methionine. White bean protein (and that of many other pulses) has a PDCAAS of 0.6 to 0.7, limited by methionine, and contains more than enough lysine. When both are eaten in roughly equal quantities in a diet, the PDCAAS of the combined constituent is 1.0, because each constituent’s protein is complemented by the other.”

Should we worry about protein deficiency? Is anyone protein deficient?

The video below by Dr Michael Gregor shows that statistically speaking, 97% of Americans are deficient in fiber whereas only 3% of Americans are deficient in protein. For the average person, getting enough fiber is far more of a concern than getting enough protein. Just about everyone gets more than enough protein.

Review of Aussielent Body (Australian Soylent)

Many years ago, a Californian software engineer named Rob Rhinehart invented a product called Soylent, which was a powder that contains every nutrient needed to survive and thrive. Soylent is not only available in powdered form but also in bottled form, food bar form, and there is a coffee-flavoured version as well.

The idea behind Soylent is that you do not need to bother with cooking or cleaning. You just eat (or drink) Soylent, throw away the packaging, and get on with life. You save time not having to cook or clean.

Soylent is unfortunately not available in Australia. However, different businesses in different countries have similar products: Huel in the UK, Joylent in the EU, and Aussielent in Australia.

As of writing this, Aussielent has one vegan product called Aussielent Body (it is also low-FODMAP as well, if anyone has irritable bowel syndrome). You can buy a week’s supply for A$82 (US$61) but if you buy a month’s supply you pay A$320 (US$240). To me this seems extremely cheap.

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The Aussielent came in transparent resealable bags (see image above). Each bag contains four servings and each serve provides about 25% of your RDI.

According to the instructions, you mix the powder with water in a protein shaker. I have tried this and personally find the taste to be boring. It tastes a little bit like oatmeal. Having read reviews about Soylent all over the internet, I know that this bland oatmeal taste is a common complaint given to Soylent, but supposedly Soylent is meant to be bland because it is meant to be a staple like rice. You can add flavoring to the product if you like. As such, I like to mix my Aussielent in a mug with coffee or cocoa powder, soy milk, and hot water. I sometimes even mix in chocolate flavoured protein powder (Earth Protein) if I have run out of cocoa powder. I find Aussielent Body is tastiest when mixed with instant coffee.

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Aussielent Body mixed with instant coffee and soy milk in a mug just before boiling water was added.

I do not live off Aussielent. I don’t even bring it into work because it is simply too much hassle to mix powders at work. I am afraid of the mess I’d be creating. Having powders flying everywhere is not something you want at the office. There is a bottled Aussielent available but unfortunately the vitamin D in this bottled Aussielent is not vegan yet. Vegan vitamin D is supposedly difficult to source in Australia. I have seen other companies struggle to find vegan vitamin D, so I don’t blame Aussielent. Vitasoy unfortunately was unable to make their Calci-Plus soy milk vegan because they were unable to find a vegan vitamin D source. Soylent in America was able to easily procure vegan vitamin D from the Dutch biotech company DSM (see Vitamin D – Soylent FAQ).

Aussielent was able to find vegan vitamin D for Aussielent Body in the form of “high vitamin D mushroom powder,” but this form of vitamin D cannot be put into an aseptic container for the ready-to-drink Aussielent.

Nevertheless, I am confident that Aussielent will deliver a vegan bottled Aussielent soon as I would happily bring bottled Aussielent to work to drink for lunch, which will save me from the hassle of making a sandwich every night.

Something that I find puzzling about Aussielent is whether there is any omega 3 in the product. Soylent in America makes a big deal about the algae oil in its product. There is an interesting Vice article about Soylent’s plans to replace all food with algae. The reasoning is that algae is a highly efficient and sustainable way to produce fats. Algae can be grown cleanly and quickly in bioreactors in factories. Omega 3 DHA and EPA in Soylent comes from algae oil. However, the ingredient list of Aussielent Body (as well as the non-vegan Aussielents) make no mention of any algae nor is there any mention of any animal omega 3 source (i.e. fish oil).

 

Is Almond Milk Unhealthy? Sustainability of Milk and Chemophobia

When I googled “almond milk,” near the top was a Sydney Morning Herald article titled The Unhealthy Truth about Almond Milkwhich would make anyone think that almond milk is bad for you. When I read through the article, I realized that the article mainly focuses on the environmental problems with almond milk production. Growing almonds uses a considerable amount of water. That being said, dairy milk production results in significant water use as well, and all the deforestation issues linked with soy production also apply to dairy milk because dairy cows eat soybeans, and most soy is grown not for human consumption but for the meat and dairy industry:

Another impact of the dairy industry on the Australian environment is by its massive use of water and land area. In 2004-2005 the dairy industry was responsible for 19% of all the water used in Australian agriculture. This is more than 12% of all the water used in Australia. Cows need a lot of land to graze on (if they get the opportunity) and the production of their feed also takes up a lot of land area. The production of cattle feed is a major reason for deforestation and is putting pressure on nature both in Australia and overseas.

In terms of the environment, dairy milk is not ideal not only due to water and land use but also due to methane and manure produced by cows. Cows consume a considerable amount of feed (soybeans). A more sustainable option includes eating insects (e.g. Exo cricket bar) because, unlike cows, insects are cold-blooded and therefore don’t require energy to keep their blood warm. Insects can also be stored in trays that can be piled vertically making it more space efficient. Another option is algae (e.g. Thrive algae oil), which is being used considerably now in Soylent. The latest Soylent iterations use algal oil or algal flour. Algae is a very efficient converter of simple sugars into protein and fat. Unlike animal products that convert plant sugar and plant protein into animal protein and animal fat, algae plants are clean and sterile areas where bioreactors convert simple plant sugars into algae protein and algae fat. There is no need to kill animals or wipe away their blood and manure.

Focusing back on the Sydney Morning Herald article, the article mainly discusses the environmental issues facing almond milk. It does, however, briefly mention health issues:

Even the watery carton version can be a good source of vitamin E, which helps with cell regeneration in the body. It’s also full of omega 3 fats, which are handy helpers for balanced mental health and cholesterol levels. That’s about it, though.

Some brands only contain 2 per cent almonds, while the other 98 per cent of your expensive “milk” is water with some emulsifiers, and sometimes the odd sweetener thrown in, along with nutrients such as vitamin A and D that have been artificially added. Nutritious.

Basically this says nothing. The first paragraph states that almond milk contains vitamin E and omega 3 fats and then says “that’s about it, though” suggesting that almond milk has very little nutrition. But this is not a huge problem. For example, pure filtered water contains no vitamins in it. It just contains water. But is this a problem? No, water is important. Furthermore, if we are to eat or drink based on nutrient density, we wouldn’t drink milk because all milk has little nutrient density as measures by the aggregate nutrient density index (ANDI). Almond milk’s ANDI score is 19 and soy milk is 31. Simply put, green vegetables have the highest nutrient density as measured by the ANDI score. Green vegetables have ANDI scores of around 900 or more whereas all milks have ANDI scores below 50. The bottom line is that if we wanted high nutrient density we’d drink a green smoothie. However, most people who drink coffee do so to get caffeine, and the milk is designed to mask the bitterness of the espresso and to cool the beverage down. Dairy milk, soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk all achieve this.

The second paragraph about how almond milk contains only 2 per cent almond is, in my opinion, not a big issue. If you put a handful of almonds into a blender and only put in a little bit of water, the resulting mixture will be extremely thick and creamy. It would not mix well with coffee and would be very high in calories. The almond milk content in almond milk varies from 2 to around 15 per cent, but the bottom line is that you cannot put too much almonds in almond milk otherwise it would cease to be an almond milk and would become almond butter.

When the article states that almond milk is mostly water with emulsifiers, sweeteners, and vitamins artificially added it, it is appealing to chemophobia. RationalWiki defines Chemophobia as follows: “Chemophobia is the fear, distrust, or dislike of anything seen as ‘chemical.’ Like various other ‘phobias,’ its use is non-clinical as it is not recognised as an actual irrational fear, but rather describes a set of prejudices against chemicals.” Basically everything is made up of chemicals, and adding emulsifiers, sweeteners, and vitamins to almond milk doesn’t make it unhealthy. To read out the ingredient list of almond milk and announce that it contains many complicated sounding chemicals is completely irrational and appeals to the prejudice that many hold against science and scientists.

The Aeon article aptly titled ‘Chemophobia’ is irrational, harmful – and hard to break describes it best:

[E]ven as much of the world became cleaner, the anti-chemical movement became so polarised that all artificial chemicals are now considered tainted. This false assumption has led to a popular demand for products that are ‘natural’ or even ‘chemical-free’.

In reality, ‘natural’ products are usually more chemically complicated than anything we can create in the lab. To demonstrate, I broke down the components in an ordinary banana. (For brevity’s sake, I omitted the thousands of minority ingredients, including DNA.) Here is the result:

INGREDIENTS:

WATER (75%), SUGARS (12%) (GLUCOSE (48%), FRUCTOSE (40%), SUCROSE (2%), MALTOSE (<1%)), STARCH (5%), FIBRE E460 (3%), AMINO ACIDS (<1%) (GLUTAMIC ACID (19%), ASPARTIC ACID (16%), HISTIDINE (11%), LEUCINE (7%), LYSINE (5%), PHENYLALANINE (4%), ARGININE (4%), VALINE (4%), ALANINE (4%), SERINE (4%), GLYCINE (3%), THREONINE (3%), ISOLEUCINE (3%), PROLINE (3%), TRYPTOPHAN (1%), CYSTINE (1%), TYROSINE (1%), METHIONINE (1%)), FATTY ACIDS (1%) (PALMITIC ACID (30%), OMEGA-6 FATTY ACID: LINOLEIC ACID (14%), OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID: LINOLENIC ACID (8%), OLEIC ACID (7%), PALMITOLEIC ACID (3%), STEARIC ACID (2%), LAURIC ACID (1%), MYRISTIC ACID (1%), CAPRIC ACID (<1%)), ASH (<1%), PHYTOSTEROLS, E515, OXALIC ACID, E300, E306 (TOCOPHEROL), PHYLLOQUINONE, THIAMIN, COLOURS (YELLOW-ORANGE E101 (RIBOFLAVIN), YELLOW-BROWN E160a), FLAVOURS (3-METHYLBUT-1-YL ETHANOATE, 2-METHYLBUTYL ETHANOATE, 2-METHYLPROPAN-1-OL, 3-METHYLBUTYL-1-OL, 2-HYDROXY-3-METHYLETHYL BUTANOATE, 3-METHYLBUTANAL, ETHYL HEXANOATE, ETHYL BUTANOATE, PENTYL ACETATE), 1510, NATURAL RIPENING AGENT (ETHENE GAS).

This exercise illustrates a larger point. The distinction between natural and synthetic chemicals is not merely ambiguous, it is non-existent. The fact that an ingredient is synthetic does not automatically make it dangerous, and the fact that it is natural doesn’t make it safe. Botulinum, produced by bacteria that grow in honey, is more than 1.3 billion times as toxic as lead and is the reason why infants should never eat honey. A cup of apple seeds contains enough natural cyanide to kill an adult human. Natural chemicals can be beneficial, neutral or harmful depending on the dosage and on how they are used, just like synthetic chemicals. Whether a chemical is ‘natural’ should never be a factor when assessing its safety.

Q&A: Can Vegans Get Enough Protein or Calcium?

Question:

Is it possible to get enough protein and calcium in a vegan diet? I know all whole plant food contains protein, but the question is are the quantities you’re eating enough to make a difference?

Answer:

As a vegan, I drink soy milk or almond milk rather than dairy milk. The soy milk that I drink has 37% of your RDI in calcium in one glass (see Vitasoy Original Soy Milk). This is roughly the same RDI as one glass of full fat dairy milk (30%). Almond milk also typically contains the same amount of calcium. The calcium in almond milk or soy milk typically comes from mineral salts such as calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate.

As for protein, according to the chart in the study below, vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores all get roughly the same amount of protein in their diets. In fact, omnivores get more protein from plants than from animal sources. This shows that there are no issues with getting protein from plant sources. Many people on many different diets already get enough protein. The Australian Government recommends 64 grams of protein per day for a man under 70.

dietary mean protein intakes by dietary pattern

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4081456/figure/F1/

A vegan can easily get enough protein in a day by eating beans. Dried beans are also cheaper than meat, which ensures you not only get enough protein but also helps you make more money.

Protein deficiency is very rare in developed countries. Protein is just one nutrient out of many more. It is strange that so many people are obsessive about protein when the human body needs more than protein. There are so many other vitamins and minerals we need. For example, we should not be too concerned about protein deficiency when 97% of Americans are deficient in potassium.