All about fruitarianism with a long-term fruitarian, Lena

Lotus Tree Fruits

Lotus-eaters (lotophagi or lotophaguses, lotophages) were fruitarians, whose primary foods were fruits and flowers of a lotus tree. 

Herodotus, in the 5th century BCE, was sure that the lotus-eaters still existed in his day, in coastal Libya:

A promontory jutting out into the sea from the country of the Gindanes is inhabited by the lotus-eaters, who live entirely on the fruit of the lotus-tree. The lotus fruit is about the size of the lentisk berry and in sweetness resembles the date. The lotus-eaters even succeed in obtaining from it a sort of wine.

Polybius identifies the land of the lotus-eaters as the island of Djerba (ancient Meninx), off the coast of Tunisia. Later this identification is supported by Strabo.

According to Greek mythology, lotophagi lived on an island dominated by lotus plants, and its flowers of fruits were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.

In the Odyssey IX by Homer:

"They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return."

Greek word lôtos can refer to several different plants. Some of the proposed species, based in part on Herodotus' assertion, include:

  • a fodder plant such as a species of Trifolium, Melilot or Trigonella, the Lotus corniculatus, the fellbloom, or Medicago arborea,
  • the sweet and succulent persimmon fruit of the date-plum Diospyros lotus,
  • a water-lily, either Nymphaea lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, or Nymphaea stellata, 
  • blue water-lily of the Nile, Nymphaea caerulea, also known as the blue lotus (already known under this name to the Greeks), can be processed to be used as a soporific and, in some formulations, has psychotropic properties; common in Egyptian iconography which suggests its use in a religious context,
  • the nettle-tree, Celtis australis,
  • Ziziphus lotus, a relative of the jujube, or another member of the genus Ziziphus, that is traditionally taken to be the plant meant in the Odyssey.

Richard Dawkins

I'd like everybody to be a vegetarian... In 100 or 200 years time, we may look back on the way we treated animals today as something like we today look back on the way our forefathers treated slaves.

Protein Structure, Cooked and Denatured Proteins

Proteins are chains of amino acids. The sequence of amino acids in a chain is known as the primary structure of a protein. The chains fold up to form complex three dimensional shapes. The chains can fold on themselves locally (secondary structure) and wrap around themselves to form a specific three dimensional shape (tertiary structure).

The secondary / tertiary structure of a folded protein is directly related to its function. For example, enzymes are proteins that catalyze reactions. They have binding sites that interact with other molecules. These binding sites are created through the folding of the amino acid chains that gives rise to the three dimensional shape of the enzyme.

Denatured Protein

Denaturation of proteins involves the disruption and possible destruction of both the secondary and tertiary structures. Since denaturation reactions are not strong enough to break the peptide bonds, the primary structure (sequence of amino acids) remains the same after a denaturation process. Denaturation disrupts the normal sheets in a protein and uncoils it into a random shape.

Denaturation occurs because the bonding interactions responsible for the secondary structure (hydrogen bonds to amides) and tertiary structure are disrupted. In tertiary structure there are four types of bonding interactions between "side chains" including: hydrogen bonding, salt bridges, disulfide bonds, and non-polar hydrophobic interactions. which may be disrupted. 

Proteins can be denatured through exposure to heat or chemicals. Denatured proteins lose their three dimensional structure and thus their function. 

Digestion of Proteins and Cooking

Protein digestion begins in the stomach, where the acidic environment favors protein denaturation. Denatured proteins are more accessible as substrates for proteolysis than are native proteins. The primary proteolytic enzyme of the stomach is pepsin, a nonspecific protease that is maximally active at pH 2. Thus, pepsin can be active in the highly acidic environment of the stomach, even though other proteins undergo denaturation there.

Heat disrupts hydrogen bonds and non-polar hydrophobic interactions. This occurs because heat increases the kinetic energy and causes the molecules to vibrate so rapidly and violently that the bonds are disrupted

Foods are cooked to denature the proteins to make it easier for enzymes to digest them. Cooking food denatures some of the proteins in it and makes digestion more efficient. Heating to denature proteins in bacteria and thus destroy the bacteria.

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