The Cell-Made Man: Menswear & Cellular Agriculture

spidersilk2

When Fortune Magazine announced that The North Face’s “Moon Parka” collaboration with Spiber would hit shelves in Japan (for the handsome price of $1000 each), I could feel the ground shifting; something truly revolutionary had happened. And then Patagonia announced similar plans with the American company Bolt Threads. Both companies began making high-performance garments from spider-silk, but no spiders were involved in the process.

 

Spider-Man_webshootersI read the Spiderman comic books growing up, and the fantasy of having a readily accessible store of spider-silk, a material five-times stronger than steel ounce-for-ounce, to swing from and capture bad guys with was enthralling. But my rational brain convinced me that Peter Parker’s web-shooters – equipped with wet-fluid spider silk cartridges – was pure fiction. But two decades later, real wet-fluid spider-silk is about to change the fashion industry and the world as we know it. We are approaching a time where silk-lined wool suits with horn buttons, leather oxfords, and beaver felt hats will all be brewed from yeast like a rustic ale.

We are approaching a time where silk-lined wool suits with horn buttons, leather oxfords, and beaver felt hats will be brewed from yeast like a rustic ale.

I’d been following developments in biofabrication for some time, but these were more than momentous events. I hate to use the term “revolutionary” because I feel like it’s exhaustingly overused in marketing and advertising. As a guy who still works in mainstream commercial production, I’ve developed an allergy to many marketing clichés, so when something truly revolutionary happens, like, say the biggest advancement in large-scale material manufacturing since the industrial revolution, we’re sadly left with a word that’s used in every car commercial: revolutionary.

What’s so great about a coat made from protein that came from yeast cells that were implanted with genes and fermented with sugar, salt and water to produce proteins with the “exact same chemistry” nature’s thread-makers? To wrap your head around that one, it’s helpful to understand how mainstream, large-scale materials manufacturing works. So here it goes in a nutshell:

Most fashion is a beautiful object with a secretly ugly past.

Fashion materials begin as plants, animals, chemicals, or even minerals. The major problems, whether it’s pollution, waste, animal cruelty or worker exploitation occur outside of what most people buying or wearing fashion ever see or experience. Therefore, most significant impacts happen before the clothing hits the racks, and exist outside of what most advertising and marketing illustrates. Nearly invisible problems are difficult to confront. Most fashion is a beautiful object with an secretly ugly past.

The impacts of simply growing cotton, or rearing billions of sheep and cows are so staggering that even if no further processing occurred – if cows magically transformed into leather boots –  they’d still be unsustainable materials. So you can toss all the “vegetable-tanned leather” “organic wool” and “naturally dyed” cotton right into the hamper to be thoroughly greenwashed.

The revolutionary thing about cellular agriculture and biofabrication (growing things like leather without cows, and brewing things like cellulose or keratin fibers without cotton plants or sheep) is that it cuts out that first, hugely impactful step of having to dedicate fragile resources like land, water and fuel, for example, to process 33 million hectares (each hectare is 100 acres) of cotton fields. Think about all the energy and resources it takes to get that much cotton from seed to sewing machine and consider the circumstances of modern-day slavery and child labor for many people who work in cotton fields. Now plug sheep into a similar production framework for wool, or cows for leather, or mink for fur – but now make it even more troubling by considering the ethics of controlling, confining and killing enough animals to produce 7.7 million tons of skins and hides or 87 million mink pelts. Who wouldn’t want to find a way to completely eliminate these first, most harmful and costly steps?

The global fashion and textile industry is valued at 3 trillion dollars, and what companies like Bolt Threads, Spiber, Modern Meadow and others are doing is seizing a big financial opportunity to start a new mode of manufacturing that will make industrial production-as-we-know-it obsolete, while solving some really big problems.

Brewed spider silk is the first to market, but it’s only a matter of time before cultured leathers, hairs, feathers, and materials that we can not yet even conceive of will replace their less efficient predecessors. That’s what’s so great about a coat made from cultured protein.

13 Vegan Guys on Instagram You Should Be Following

The following 13 guys are creating inspiring and brilliant content on Instagram, and you need to follow them ASAP!

12vguys2

Luciano Acuno Jr. @luckyluciano112 &  Kenny Wong @Genga31
Co-Founders of Bklyn Beast, Actors, Stuntmen

Ian Thomas @ianthomas
Singer, actor, author

Jona Weinhofen @jonaweinhofen

Musician (I Killed the Prom Queen), activist

12vguys4

Allex Knight @sirknight_
Model, SelfMade Man

Peter Badenhop @peterbadenhop
Model

Mike Vallely @mikevallely
Skateboarder, Musician, Actor, Pro Wrestler, Stuntman, Hockey Player

12vguys1

Richie Kul @kulrichie
Actor, model, activist

Jhanelle Castillo @jhanellecastillo
Model, Vegan, Pitbull Advocate

David Carter @the300poundvegan
NFL Defensive Lineman, Animal Rights Activist, Public Speaker

Untitled design

Dom Thompson @domzthompson
Healthcare Executive, Multi-sport athlete, Mostly raw, ethical vegan.

Nimai Delgado @nimai_delgado
The Hardcore Herbivore, trainer, meal-planner

Fat Tony @fattonybmx
CrossFitter, Photographer/Videographer, BMX 

What Sausage-Weilding Neo-Nazis Want

Why did a group of meat-skewer wielding and sausage-wearing Neo-Nazis attack people at a tiny vegan cafe that opened just a year ago in the outskirts of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia?  Two cafe employees were physically assaulted while customers and others had meat thrown at them. What some see as comical at first, has a darker side.

kiwicafe

Meat-eating is so closely tied to common definitions of traditional masculinity (hunting, sacrifice, killing, control) and this eruption of violent, meat-wielding men communicates that refusing meat is refusing access to a potent symbol of macho power. But that’s not all.

Refusing meat is refusing access to a potent symbol of macho power.

Historically, refusing power is seen as worse than pitiful, it is contemptible. I imagine that a sausage-wielding, neo-nazi leaning, Georgian nationalist believes, like the Third Reich concluded, that the threat of weakness should be stamped-out and eradicated like a contagious infection.

Flesh is a sacrosanct reward for maintaining the status quo: mainly patriarchy, the roles of the traditional family, and a speciesist hierarchy. I think this display reveals that when veganism is introduced into machismo cultures, it hits a deep nerve with a lot of people because it removes a pillar of male identity. Without meat, are men real men?

Recently there has been a significant amount of homophobic sentiment in Georgia, and often giving up meat is seen interchangeable with giving up masculinity. As we’ve discussed in the past here on The Discerning Brute, there is a definite connection between anti-LGBTQ sentiment and meat-pride.

According to Radio Free Europe, the group being accused of involvement with the attack, Georgian Power, “had come to the neighborhood a month earlier and asked a nearby shopkeeper whether foreigners or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community frequented the cafe.”

This doctor is researching why men are so scared to give up meat.

The American Psycological Association published Real Men Don’t Eat (Vegetable) Quiche: Masculinity and the Justification of Meat Consumption by Hank Rothgerber.

The University of Chicago Press’ Journal of Consumer Research highlighted the phenomenon of masculinity in association to meat: Why Do Male Consumers Avoid Vegetarian Options?

The Discerning Brute on Masculinity & Meat

Best Grooming of Summer 2016

When it comes to keeping our faces clean, our hair neatly in place – or effortlessly tousled, our teeth bright and our skin smooth and moisturized, there aren’t too many grooming companies who meet The Discerning Brute trifecta of standards. The standards are that products should not be tested on animals (cruelty-free), should contain high-quality ingredients (organic or synthesized), and products should contain no animal-derived ingredients commonly found in grooming products like sheep gland secretions (lanolin), or bee gland secretions (beeswax and propolis), or insect larvae gland secretions (silk proteins)… some people sure do like to rub other animals gland juices all over their faces, hair and lips… but I digress. Below you’ll find some of our favorite companies whose grooming arsenal will keep you as shipshape as their production process.

discovery-kit-product

cedarwood_front_2x
NVhydratantAA

butter-me-up-plain-555x710 aesop-online-personal-care-herbal-deodorant-50ml-c packshot-5808_parf_50ml_2 thrive FAMILY lowres_v3whiteningpenScreen Shot 2016-05-27 at 3.55.03 PMoriginal-eye-roll-on_3_1cakerevisedDAG500static1.squarespaceWildLifeforMen

From the top: Root Science, Schmidt’s, Mr. Bean, Preserve Products, World Wild Men, Demes, Aesop, Le Labo, Thrive, Snapwhite, 66º30, Bulldog, Reverie, DermOrganic, MLR, i + m

Body Machine: Heavyweight David Haye’s Plant-Powered Return

When heavyweight boxer David Hay had to consider retirement due to a shoulder that was nearly destroyed, he faced two options: quit or get reconstructive surgery with months of recovery. In a lengthy piece for The Telegraph, Haye describes his ordeal, his choice to go vegan, and his formidable resurrection at an age the presents problems for most boxers. On going vegan in 2014, Haye said of animal products that “cutting it out made me feel immediately better and stronger than ever…Everyone should try it.”

Fist 849107594cb628f0de20706c8e57913107303d4dfef15fb0b4defec9f42a52ab

Haye fights Arnold “The Cobra” Gjergjaj in London on May 21, 2016. Watch it on Dave. #HayeDay