Serving up nutrition with a side of education

Teaming up with some of Singapore’s most conscious kitchens, I had the pleasure in constructing three special lunch boxes for the attendees of the Galen Growth Asia HealthTech CEO Summit 2017.  While mingling with the attendees and answering some of their nutrition-based inquiries, two questions struck me:

1. How many calories are in this bowl?

2. Which is ‘healthier’: eating meat or being vegetarian?

My answer to the former was, “It’s around 1000.”  The inquirer’s jaw dropped, peering at his vegan selection as if it should be less for one or both reasons: A) it was ‘vegan’ and we usually assume vegan means ‘healthier’ and therefore less calories; and/or B) it was created with a nutritionist and we assume nutritionists advocate less calories.  I further explained, “It’s not just the number of calories but what you get for those calories.  It goes beyond macronutrients like fat and carbs; we need to care about the micros like vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium.”  The man seemed unimpressed, as my answer didn’t fit his expectation or what society keeps feeding us about caring mostly about a calorie count.

My answer to the latter question was, “First of all, what does ‘healthier’ mean?  The person eating meat could be having beef and chicken shot up with hormones and antibiotics.  On the other hand, a vegetarian could be eating GMO corn and soy and vegetables sprayed in pesticides.  What matters most is the source — what has been done to the food.”  This man seemed impressed, as if something clicked for him.  He started asking deeper questions about farming techniques and the impact on the earth too.

Their questions show that there is more education to be had in our communities, but their reactions to my answers show the uniqueness of each person’s readiness.

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