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How Healthy Is Vegetarianism…Really?

uestion: Is vegetarianism healthier than a carnivorous diet?

Marion Nestle: I think that a healthy diet has small amounts of meat. You can be a vegetarian and be perfectly healthy, and vegetarians, in general are healthier than people who eat a lot of meat. But there are advantages to eating small amount of meat. They’re not necessary advantages, but they’re there. And certainly in developing countries where kids don’t have enough food, a little meat thrown in makes a big nutritional difference. In the United States, where there’s plenty of food around, I don’t think it makes very much difference. The only thing that vegetarians need to worry about is eating a variety of food and getting enough calories, which is not very hard to do. I don’t see vegetarian diet as being issue in any way whatsoever, as long as there is some animal food in the diet, like eggs, or fish, or dairy products, or something like that. The minute you move from that into vegan diets, you raise questions about one vitamin and that’s vitamin B12 because that only comes from products of animal origin, or bacterially fermented foods. So, you have to make sure you have a source of vitamin B12 in your diet and that you’re eating a variety of foods. But other than that, I just don’t see it as an issue at all.

Except for kids. For small children, it’s sometimes hard for children to get enough calories unless they’re getting enough fat in with the vegan diets that they’re getting, but vegan parents know how to deal with that. Most of them, and do a pretty good job. And the kids are healthy. It’s fine.

I kind of see all of that as a non-issue and I’m surprised at the passion about it on both sides. I still hear from people about how dangerous vegetarian diets are, which seems kind of silly. And on the other hand, I hear from vegetarians and vegans about how terrible it is to eat meat. And I don’t buy either one of those.

QuestionIs vegetarianism inherently better for the environment?

Marion Nestle: Yeah, the issue of meat eating and the issue of the environment is and important one, particularly industrially raised meat and confined animal feeding operations where you have a large number of animals in a very small area. And there’s the whole question of, first of all, what happens to all of their waste because a pig farm can easily produce the amount of waste that a city of 20,000 people would produce in a day, and yet it’s not treated. No human population of 20,000 would be allowed to produce waste that wasn’t treated to destroy pathogenic bacteria, and yet we have laws that allow these places to pollute the environment with animal waste. I think that a huge problem. If you go to a place that’s near a pig farm, you know about that pig farm miles away. You can smell it. That’s something that we need to do something about and I don’t think that people should be allowed to leave their waste untreated.

There are other issues that have to do with greenhouses gasses, and the fact that so much of our grain; corn and soybeans particularly, are grown expressly to feed animals. If we didn’t eat so much meat, then we wouldn’t need to grow all that food to feed animals and that would also have great benefits for the environment. So, I guess where I stand on this is, if you do eat meat, then just don’t eat so much of it.

Banning meat from one’s diet has been hailed as essential for everything from lowering cholesterol to lowering emissions. But, as the famed nutritionist explains, the vegetarian movement is not without its potential dangers and dubious beliefs.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

Credit: Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
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White dwarfs hold key to life in the universe, suggests study

New study shows white dwarf stars create an essential component of life.

NASA and H. Richer (University of British Columbia)
Surprising Science
  • White dwarf stars create carbon atoms in the Milky Way galaxy, shows new study.
  • Carbon is an essential component of life.
  • White dwarfs make carbon in their hot insides before the stars die.
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"Forced empathy" is a powerful negotiation tool. Here's how to do it.

Master negotiator Chris Voss breaks down how to get what you want during negotiations.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Former FBI negotiator Chris Voss explains how forced empathy is a powerful negotiating tactic.
  • The key is starting a sentence with "What" or "How," causing the other person to look at the situation through your eyes.
  • What appears to signal weakness is turned into a strength when using this tactic.
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Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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How to catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE before it’s gone

Unless you plan to try again in 6,800 years, this week is your shot.

Image source: Sven Brandsma/Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Comet NEOWISE will be most visible in the U.S. during the evenings from July 14-19, 2020.
  • After July 23rd, NEOWISE will be visible only through good binoculars and telescopes.
  • Look in the northwestern sky below the Big Dipper after dusk while there's a chance.

UPDATE: NASA is broadcasting a NASA Science Live episode highlighting Comet NEOWISE. NASA experts will discuss and answer public questions beginning at 3PM EST on Wednesday, July 15. Tune in via the agency's website, Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, LinkedIn, Twitch, or USTREAM.

Before last evening, July 14, 2020, the easiest way to see Comet NEOWISE — the brightest comet to zoom past Earth since 1977's Comet Hale-Bopp — from the United States was to catch it about an hour before sunrise. Now, however, you can see it in the evening, where it will remain for until the 19th. This is a definite don't-miss event — NEOWISE won't be coming back our way for another 6,800 years. It's the first major comet of the millennium, and by all accounts, it's unforgettable.

NEOWISE just got back from the Sun

Comet NEOWISE is named after the NASA infrared space telescope that first spotted it on March 27th. Its official moniker is C/2020 F3. It's estimated that the icy comet is about three miles across, not counting its tail.

NEOWISE is now heading away from our Sun, having made it closet approach, 27.4 million miles, to our star on July 3. The heat from that encounter is what's given NEOWISE its tail: It caused gas and dust to be released from the icy object, creating the tail of debris that looks so magical from here.

As NEOWISE moves closer to Earth, paradoxically, it will be less and less visible. By about July 23rd, you'll need binoculars or a telescope to see it at all. All of which makes this week prime time.

An evening delight

star constellation in sky

Image source: Allexxandar/Shutterstock/Big Think

First, find an unobstructed view of the northwest sky, free of streetlights, car headlights, apartment lights, and so on. And then, according to Sky & Telescope:

"Start looking about one hour after sunset, when you'll find it just over the northwestern horizon as the last of twilight fades into darkness."

It should be easy to spot since it's near to one of the most recognizable constellations up there, the Big Dipper. "Look about three fists below the bottom of the Big Dipper, which is hanging down by its handle high above, and from there perhaps a little to the right." Et voilà: Comet NEOWISE.

Says Sky & Telescope's Diana Hannikainen, "Look for a faint, fuzzy little 'star' with a fainter, fuzzier little tail extending upward from it."

The comet should be visible with the naked eye, though binoculars and a simple telescope may reveal more detail.

You may also be able to snap a photo of this special visitor, though you'll need the right gear to do so. A dedicated camera is more likely to capture a good shot than a telephone, but in either case, you'll need a tripod or some other means of holding the camera dead still as it takes a timed exposure of several seconds (not all phones can do this).

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