How to think about Synthetic Dairy proteins

plant power

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Hi all,

I'm a fairly new vegan - 3yrs. So still finding my thoughts and philosophy on a range of topics.

An interesting conversation with a (non-vegan) friend recently about synthetic dairy products and whether I would eat them. I understand its a new technology that uses microbes to produce diary proteins.

I'm not sure how I think about this so keen for views from others. The proteins do not come from cows, so I think its cruelty free, but I suppose at some point in the past some cattle dna would have been used to program the microbes.

Thanks
 
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Lou

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good question.
As far as I'm concerned its vegan. For me that is not the question.
I think there two other important questions.
1. is it sustainable/ My guess is that it has a higher energy/carbon footprint than the equivalent plant based products. But I don't know. Its so new there might not even be any studies. but just applying some common sense - I would guess not.
2. is it healthy? Recalling what I learned in the documentary Forks over Knives, the milk protein casein is not healthy. These products do contain casein. Also what about saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugars?

It may not be something I choose to consume. I'm perfectly happy with my soy milk and other plant based options. however if others chose to, and save a few cows in the meantime - I'm all for it.
 

Indian Summer

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As far as I'm concerned its vegan. For me that is not the question.
I disagree. It is absolutely not vegan, as it is - presumably - biologically indistinguishable from dairy / dairy proteins. And if you were served this in a restaurant, how would you know it's synthetic and not the real thing?

However, even if it's not vegan, that doesn't mean it's necessarily ethically wrong to consume it. I agree with you that we should consider the ecological footprint.
 

Graeme M

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I disagree. It is absolutely not vegan, as it is - presumably - biologically indistinguishable from dairy / dairy proteins.
I don't see how you can come to this conclusion. I assume you are saying that vegans don't consume animal products (an idea I completely reject, by the way, but that's me). Just because something is the same chemical constituents as something found in an animal doesn't make it an animal product. Where do you stop with that kind of thinking - are you going to reject any amino acid that can be found in animals?

In terms of veganism, it seems to me something has to come directly from the exploitation of an animal to be unacceptable to a vegan. It's not the thing itself, it is how it came to be available to use.

1. is it sustainable/ My guess is that it has a higher energy/carbon footprint than the equivalent plant based products.
I would assume it would have to be better than a plant-based product. There are no hectares of land cleared, no crops grown with pesticides and artificial fertiliser, no harvesting and expending energy to do so, no transport and processing. One of the big claims from these systems is that they are green and sustainable.

 
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VeganRachel

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Hi, I do not believe in laboratory synthetic "meat" or eggs or dairy products, but others will make their own choice.
i understand that milk is a wonderful healthy nutritious immune boosting food, FOR BABIES of a species until they are weaned.
Humans do not need dog milk, rat milk, pig milk, giraffe milk, elephant milk, or cow or goat milk. But many believe they do.
There are so many healthy plant mylks available. You can even make your own in a quality blender. There are also many
healthy veggie burger recipes as well to take the place of dead cow burgers. cheers.
 

Indian Summer

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I don't see how you can come to this conclusion. I assume you are saying that vegans don't consume animal products (an idea I completely reject, by the way, but that's me). Just because something is the same chemical constituents as something found in an animal doesn't make it an animal product. Where do you stop with that kind of thinking - are you going to reject any amino acid that can be found in animals?

In terms of veganism, it seems to me something has to come directly from the exploitation of an animal to be unacceptable to a vegan. It's not the thing itself, it is how it came to be available to use.
You are conflating two separate concepts, namely 1) vegan products and 2) what might be acceptable to a vegan to use or consume. For example, a vegan might collect (empty) shells on the beach or bird feathers they find in nature while still (rightfully) being considered a vegan person. However, these are still not vegan products.

IMO it is also acceptable for a vegan to receive non-vegan medications or vaccinations when there are no vegan alternatives. And yes, consuming the synthetic dairy might also be acceptable. But that doesn't turn those into vegan products.
 
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Mikkel

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I'm fan of the lab grown meat. One of the biggest reasons is that how meat eaters are reacting to it, how angry they get of the thought of it. And would never eat it, even though they wouldn't taste or know the difference. And I would prefer that lab grown milk was the main optoion too.

Reasons are simple. Lab grown proteins will have much less of an impact on everything. The climate example. It won't need antibiotics, that is a huge risk we are into thiese days, MRSA/MRSP. They will not need hormones etc. etc. etc. It will also be an option for people that example is so allergic to soy or corn, that if an animal eats it, they can't eat it. It will free up so much land in poorer countries for growing food for humans, instead of growign food for animals to the rich countries. It will free up space for food for humans here too. It will mean so many animals that will never grow up just to end up on a plate too. The impact will be so huge on animals too. And I hope that the few animals that will be needed in the industry, will get better lives too.

Is it vegan? No. But is it unetical? I don't think so. I do think that sometimes, this will go under "doing your best" in fact, without labeling it vegan. If we got all non-vegans over to eat lab grown meat and milk (no clue if egg is something that is possible to grow in a lab yet), the impact would be huge for both the animals and the globe. And that's why I will always cheer on this technology.
 
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Lou

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I would assume it would have to be better than a plant-based product. There are no hectares of land cleared, no crops grown with pesticides and artificial fertiliser, no harvesting and expending energy to do so, no transport and processing. One of the big claims from these systems is that they are green and sustainable.

absolutely see your point.... but
What do the microflora eat?
If they eat garbage ok fine. but what if they an expensive and energy intensive " microflora food"?
Alos i imagine they are grown in vats that run on electricity? How much? and then do they create waste products?

but now I want to learn more about it.

but as @Emma JC said, "why would I bother?". I already am happy with soy milk,
 

silva

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Not for me, I haven't even wanted to try Brave Robot ice cream, which surprised me since I did love ice cream.

But....what about human breast milk? Formula is such crap, and nursing is not for every woman. I suppose using human cells or whatever would go over the edge :rolleyes: :rofl:
 

500channelsurfer

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Laboratories are usually expensive and we can grow our food in the field for cheap. Especially organic vegan is very non energy-intensive. All laboratories have natural inputs in order for there to be any outputs, which come with costs.
Who would this dairy-non-dairy product be marketed to? I would only see its existence as a successful product if it was cheaper than dairy milk.
There are many reasons why vegans go vegan. Some vegans will not accept this, some vegans will not go back on a replication of a food they have left. Some vegans and vegetarians I think would accept it especially if it is truly a scientific copy from organisms that were not harmed in its creation.
Myself, I would not choose this since I have left dairy, and I get my food organically for cheap.
 

permabulk

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Whether I would consider this acceptable from the standpoint of veganism depends in part on how the product is created.

However, what seems more important is the possible health implications. I am very leery of synthetic foods (especially new ones) because we don't know what physiological effects they will have. I don't think the risk is worth it, so I prefer to avoid and not promote sythetic foods. I don't even promote vegan junk food.

Also, it seems to me that these kinds of animal product proxies serve to normalize animal product consumption to some extent, and that normalization is not in line with veganism.
 

Brian W

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Also, it seems to me that these kinds of animal product proxies serve to normalize animal product consumption to some extent, and that normalization is not in line with veganism.
I understand the rest of your argument but here I differ. If this is ethically produced then I don't believe you can lump it in with unethical animal consumption like this. People aren't stupid and will understand the difference and if it can make ethical food more enjoyable then it can only encourage more ethical eating habits in others.
 
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Graeme M

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Also, it seems to me that these kinds of animal product proxies serve to normalize animal product consumption to some extent, and that normalization is not in line with veganism.
I get what you mean, but I don't know that you can say this. What is an "animal product"? Consider milk. There is no actual natural equivalent from the plant world. Commercially produced soy milk is a human invention designed to copy cow's milk so isn't it a proxy for an animal product? Or what about various plant-based meat analogs. Or vegan "leather" or "wool". Are these not vegan-friendly?
 
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Kathy Lauren

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I have no vegan problem with synthetic animal products. My understanding is that no actual animal products go into making the synthetics. The only thing that came from an animal was information about how the protein was assembled. So, I consider those products to be vegan.

However, I would not consume synthetic dairy. My body stopped making lactase long ago, so consuming them in any quantity would make me sick.

The raw materials for the products have to come from somewhere, either animal, vegetable or mineral. I draw the line at materials of animal origin. I don't mind materials of vegetable (or fungal or bacterial) origin. Materials of mineral origin (including petroleum-based materials) are inherently unsustainable. That does not make them un-vegan, but it does make then unethical in my view.

(And yes, I know I consume many products of unsustainable mineral origin. But I really am trying to cut down.)
 

silva

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Does anyone know of attempt to synthecise human breast milk?
This is literally the best reason for replicating milk---the ones it's made for. Breast milk is undoubtably best, but too many cannot do it for various reasons.
The alternatives are nothing but oils and processed sugars!
 

permabulk

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I get what you mean, but I don't know that you can say this. What is an "animal product"?
Are you a vegan? If so, you must know the answer to this question.

Consider milk. There is no actual natural equivalent from the plant world. Commercially produced soy milk is a human invention designed to copy cow's milk so isn't it a proxy for an animal product?
I have no idea why soy milk was produced, but I wasn't talking about plant-based foods meant to replace animal-based foods. I thought this synthetic dairy we are talking about is something synthesized from actual pre-existing milk proteins somehow without milking any new cows. So it would be a real dairy product, which soy milk is not. That's what I meant by "proxy." But actually I have no idea how this stuff would be made.
 

permabulk

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I understand the rest of your argument but here I differ. If this is ethically produced then I don't believe you can lump it in with unethical animal consumption like this.
I didn't "lump it in." I said it would normalize consuming typically produced animal products, which implies that it's not quite the same thing as consuming typically produced animal products.

People aren't stupid and will understand the difference and if it can make ethical food more enjoyable then it can only encourage more ethical eating habits in others.
That is not the only thing it can encourage. If it's similar enough, it can also accustom people to consuming dairy and reinforce their pre-existing consumption of dairy, and what are the non-vegans likely to do if they ever cannot get this synthesized dairy they've become attached to? They'll go back to the regular dairy. It doesn't matter that people aren't stupid; what's relevant is that most of them aren't vegans and that they will act accordingly. Non-vegans will go along with vegan products only so long as it's convenient for them.