Executive Chef, Hitoshi Sugiura: “We’d Like to Offer Vegan Cuisine at More Than 1,000 canteens in Japan”

Although Japan will hold the Olympic Games in 2021, many of us might view the nation as far from vegetarian and vegan friendly. Meanwhile, the movement called “1,000 Vegan Project” is gathering attention. Hiroto Yamazaki of Tokyo’s freefrom interviewed ONODERA GROUP / LEOC Co‘s Executive Chef, Hitoshi Sugiura for vegconomist.

What is the “1,000 Vegan Project”?

We at LEOC provide meals at more than 2,300 facilities from Hokkaido to Okinawa, such as employee cafeterias in offices and factories, dormitories, schools, sports facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, nursery schools, and facilities for people with disabilities.

“1,000 Vegan Project” is an initiative to provide vegan cuisine at 1,000 canteens operated by our company.

What a big scale it is…!

Up to now, there have been initiatives on a company-by-company basis, such as at a famous automobile company, but this is the first case to provide such a big scale in Japan.

Please tell us about the background to the launch of the project

Due to the influence of the media, I feel that the awareness of vegan has increased in Japan, but it is limited to some cities, and it’s still behind in the nationwide. We hope that this initiative will lead to an increase in vegan awareness throughout the country.

What brought you to the vegan world?

In 2009, while working in the Patina Restaurant Group in the United States, I witnessed food diversity such as vegetarian, vegan and halal. I still remember the shock of seeing people from different countries eating at the same table, while respecting each other in a mixed culture.

After returning to Japan in 2013, I found that the vegan food culture has not penetrated, so I held cooking school and also joined “The Vegetarian Chance”, a world competition of cooking using only vegetables (Turin, Italy) to raise awareness in Japan.

Please tell us about the points of the project

We created a manual book and a manual video for the staff at the site of the office, and gave a lecture on cooking methods. We also prepared a message card to convey the significance of the project to consumers.

First of all, we started to deal with meals at 276 nursing homes.

Have you actually received feedback from customers?

We received positive comments from customers, saying, “I could understand the significance of plant based diet with reading the message card and it was very delicious.”

Finally, please tell us about your future outlook.

First of all, we start with the 276 nursing homes and gradually spread it to employee cafeterias of general companies, and finally we’d like to offer vegan cuisine at more than 1,000 canteens.

Source: Vegconomist

Potato Cakes with Goat’s Cheese


l lb potatoes
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 spring onions (including the green parts), finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz Crottins de Chavignol (firm goat’s cheeses)
salt and black pepper
salad leaves, such as curly endive, radicchio and lamb’s lettuce, tossed in walnut dressing, to serve
thyme sprigs, to garnish


  1. Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes. Using your hands squeeze out all the excess moisture, then carefully combine with the chopped thyme, garlic, spring onions and seasoning.
  2. Heat half the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan. Add two large spoonfuls of the potato mixture, spacing them well apart, and press firmly down with a spatula. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden.
  3. Drain the potato cakes on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven. Make two more potato cakes in the same way with the remaining mixture.
  4. Preheat the grill.
  5. Cut the cheese in half horizontally and place one half, cut side up, on each potato cake. Grill for 2-3 minutes until golden.
  6. Transfer the potato cakes to serving plates and arrange the salad leaves around them. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve at once.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Source: Vegetarian Classics

What’s for Lunch?

Veggie Dumpling Set Lunch at Vegecafe Lotus in Toyohashi, Japan

New Blood Test Shows Great Promise in the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

A new blood test demonstrated remarkable promise in discriminating between persons with and without Alzheimer’s disease and in persons at known genetic risk may be able to detect the disease as early as 20 years before the onset of cognitive impairment, according to a large international study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and simultaneously presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

For many years, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been based on the characterization of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, typically after a person dies. An inexpensive and widely available blood test for the presence of plaques and tangles would have a profound impact on Alzheimer’s research and care. According to the new study, measurements of phospho-tau217 (p-tau217), one of the tau proteins found in tangles, could provide a relatively sensitive and accurate indicator of both plaques and tangles—corresponding to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s—in living people.

“The p-tau217 blood test has great promise in the diagnosis, early detection, and study of Alzheimer’s,” said Oskar Hansson, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Memory Research at Lund University, Sweden, who leads the Swedish BioFINDER Study and senior author on the study who spearheaded the international collaborative effort. “While more work is needed to optimize the assay and test it in other people before it becomes available in the clinic, the blood test might become especially useful to improve the recognition, diagnosis, and care of people in the primary care setting.”

Researchers evaluated a new p-tau217 blood test in 1,402 cognitively impaired and unimpaired research participants from well-known studies in Arizona, Sweden, and Colombia. The study, which was coordinated from Lund University in Sweden, included 81 Arizona participants in Banner Sun Health Research Institute’s Brain Donation program who had clinical assessments and provided blood samples in their last years of life and then had neuropathological assessments after they died; 699 participants in the Swedish BioFINDER Study who had clinical, brain imaging, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and blood-based biomarker assessments; and 522 Colombian autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD)-causing mutation carriers and non-carriers from the world’s largest ADAD cohort.

  • In the Arizona (Banner Sun Health Research Institute) Brain Donation Cohort, the plasma p-tau217 assay discriminated between Arizona Brain donors with and without the subsequent neuropathological diagnosis of “intermediate or high likelihood Alzheimer’s” (i.e., characterized by plaques, as well as tangles that have at least spread to temporal lobe memory areas or beyond) with 89% accuracy; it distinguished between those with and without a diagnosis of “high likelihood Alzheimer’s” with 98% accuracy; and higher ptau217 measurements were correlated with higher brain tangle counts only in those persons who also had amyloid plaques.
  • In the Swedish BioFINDER Study, the assay discriminated between persons with the clinical diagnoses of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases with 96% accuracy, similar to tau PET scans and CSF biomarkers and better than several other blood tests and MRI measurements; and it distinguished between those with and without an abnormal tau PET scan with 93% accuracy.
  • In the Colombia Cohort, the assay began to distinguish between mutation carriers and non-carriers 20 years before their estimated age at the onset of mild cognitive impairment.

In each of these analyses, p-tau217 (a major component of Alzheimer’s disease-related tau tangles) performed better than p-tau181 (another component of tau tangles and a blood test recently found to have promise in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s) and several other studied blood tests.

Other study leaders include Jeffrey Dage, PhD, from Eli Lilly and Company, who developed the p-tau217 assay, co-first authors Sebastian Palmqvist, MD, PhD, and Shorena Janelidz, PhD, from Lund University, and Eric Reiman, MD, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, who organized the analysis of Arizona and Colombian cohort data.

In the last two years, researchers have made great progress in the development of amyloid blood tests, providing valuable information about one of the two cardinal features of Alzheimer’s. While more work is needed before the test is ready for use in the clinic, a p-tau217 blood test has the potential to provide information about both plaques and tangles, corresponding to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. It has the potential to advance the disease’s research and care in other important ways.

“Blood tests like p-tau217 have the potential to revolutionize Alzheimer’s research, treatment and prevention trials, and clinical care,” said Eric Reiman, MD, Executive Director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix and a senior author on the study. “While there’s more work to do, I anticipate that their impact in both the research and clinical setting will become readily apparent within the next two years.”

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating and incurable disease that affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older. Without the discovery of successful prevention therapies, the number of U.S. cases is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050.

Source: Lund University

New Study Sheds Doubt on Kids Aren’t COVID-19 Spreaders

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Children with COVID-19 carry as much or more coronavirus in their nose as adults, suggesting that they could pose a serious infection risk if schools and day care centers reopen, a new study argues.

Coronavirus testing performed in Chicago in March and April shows that children and teens tend to have as much virus in their nasal passages as adults, according to a research letter published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

In fact, children younger than 5 carried the highest viral loads, the researchers reported.

“It’s concerning the youngest individuals were the ones with the highest amount of virus,” said lead researcher Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. “They are not always the ones who are washing their hands or wearing their masks.”

The findings call into question earlier epidemiological studies seemingly showing that children do not tend to spread the novel coronavirus between themselves or regularly infect adults.

Based on those studies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention argued last week for the reopening of the nation’s schools.

“Some of the arguments that have been made in regard to schools and day cares opening is that perhaps children are unable to make the virus as efficiently in their nose, and that’s why they’re not as sick,” Heald-Sargent said. “This data would argue against that. They are able to sustain replication, the same amount as older individuals, if not more.”

For this study, Heald-Sargent and her colleagues took a look back at nasal samples taken from 145 patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The researchers found that young children had average viral loads 10 to 100 times greater than adults.

“Kids certainly have virus and are replicating virus in their nose as efficiently, if not more efficiently, than adults,” Heald-Sargent said. “It would be logical they can also spread the virus or transmit the virus.”

However, that infection risk simply hasn’t been demonstrated in real-world epidemiological studies, counters Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore.

“It’s one thing to find virus in the nasal passages of a child versus finding epidemiological evidence of children passing it on to other people,” Adalja said. “That’s the key thing — we’re still not seeing outbreaks being driven by children to the extent they are driven by older individuals, and that’s despite the fact that they have the virus in their nose.”

According to the CDC, just 7% of U.S. COVID-19 cases, and less than 0.1% of related deaths, have occurred in people under the age of 18. And so far in 2020, fewer children have died from COVID-19 than typically die from the flu in a given year.

It remains a mystery why kids haven’t been shown to be as infectious as adults when it comes to COVID-19, Adalja said.

It could be that children don’t get as sick and therefore don’t cough as much, spreading airborne virus, Adalja said. It also could be that because children are smaller, their airborne respiratory particles are more likely to fall to the ground before an adult can inhale them.

Heald-Sargent thinks the problem might be with the timing of the epidemiologic studies that showed low transmission rates in children.

“A lot of the epidemiologic surveys have been done in a period of social distancing and isolation, where schools were shut down quite early and day cares as well,” Heald-Sargent said. “The people who were going out in the community were the adults. They were the ones at work and going to the store.”

As lockdown restrictions have relaxed, more spread is being observed among children, Heald-Sargent said.

For example, a study from South Korea earlier this month found that kids 10 or older can spread the virus just as efficiently as adults.

“I’m not saying schools shouldn’t reopen or day cares shouldn’t reopen. It’s a very nuanced and complicated discussion, and different for different areas,” Heald-Sargent said. “We can’t assume that children cannot spread the virus. Everyone is assuming because it hasn’t been seen, it does not happen. Now I think we need to challenge that assumption.”

Source: HealthDay

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