(The original of this article is also crossposted at Real
Vampire News - you may comment there if you wish.)
(A reworking of this article is in progress.)
Many people claim that there is no nutritional value in blood. Sadly,
this is a common belief primarily in America, since most Americans - especially
those in the medical profession - tend to forget just WHAT is being measured
in the blood with lab tests, and that blood is regularly on the menu -
both cooked AND raw - in many non-American cultures.
Medically, human blood contains a large variety of cells and nutrients
including: lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes,
hormones, antibodies, and so on. There are lab tests available that
measure most, if not all, of these values, including calcium, folic
acid, glucose, iron, potassium, protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Many of them are even routinely checked on a Chem-20 or Metabolic panel!
Blood products have also been used in "blood agar" in laboratory
settings to grow bacteria samples, and iron supplements in some countries
generally contain whole blood or blood products ("Heme iron")
- New Zealand's deer blood capsules and Russia's "Hematogen"
bar for example - instead of the mineral form (usually a sulfate) typically
seen in the USA. Blood products and byproducts turn up as a source of
nutrients for livestock feed or plant fertilizer (usually called "blood
meal" in that case.) A powdered supplement called "Prothemol"
is made with dried cows blood, dried egg whites and flour, and has been
used in Brazil since 1996 to effectively counter starvation and malnutrition
in their population.
Blood is regularly used in many parts of the world in food such as
soups, stews, puddings, sausages and other dishes - and in some cultures,
even used raw, either directly or added as an ingredient in another
cooked dish. Blood sausage (sometimes called "blood pudding")
is probably the most commonly known example, with different variants
depending on the country of origin, but there are also several variants
of blood soup or stew, a few variants of a congealed "tofu"
like form such as in China and Vietnam, and even blood bread.
If you have a copy of the Joy
of Cooking cookbook by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker,
you likely have one of the many recipe variants for blood sausage already.
My hardcover copy dates from 1964, and in that edition, it can be found
on page 438.
Cultures where blood is consumed raw include probably the most famous
example, the Maasai of Africa, but some of you might be surprised to
learn that raw blood is also consumed in Alaska by the Innuit peoples
(typically seal blood) and in Vietnam as "Tiet Canh", a congealed,
but still raw, breakfast dish (duck and pork are common versions.) In
Thailand, a noodle soup type dish often called Nam Tok is made with
raw meat and with blood poured over it. Nam Tok has two basic preparations,
one is a soup, the other a meat "salad" - traditionally, this
is raw meat, as is the blood poured over it, though many modern versions
may omit the blood and generally cook the meat to a greater or lesser
degree. Such traditional diets tend to have lower rates of heart disease
than western/highly processed diets.
The television show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern highlights MANY
cultures where blood is consumed either raw or cooked as part of another
dish. The episodes I'm aware of that deal with blood-based foodstuffs
Season 2, ep 2: Blood pudding in Iceland
Season 2, ep 6: Blood sausage and blood pudding in Chili
Season 3, ep 5: Blood sausage in France
Season 3, ep 7: Halloween party special, including raw cow's blood
Season 3, ep 8: Wild boar blood in Hawaii
Season 3, ep 13: Blood sake in Japan
Season 4, ep 1: Fresh cows blood & clotted blood while visiting
the Masai tribe
Season 5, ep 2: Blood cake soup in Cambodia
Season 5, ep 4: Sheep's blood sausage in Arizona
Season 5, ep 5: Clotted cows blood in Tanzania
Season 6, ep 10: Romani (Gypsy) Breakfast blood stew and blood sausage
Season 6, ep 16: Embassy Row, including swedish blood pudding
Season 6, ep 17: Finland - blood brownies for schoolchildren, blood
soup, and other selections
The point of all this is that blood is much more nutritious - and common
in various foods and drinks - than most Americans realize. You can find
plenty of videos on YouTube illustrating this, but I only recommend looking
for them if you have a VERY strong stomach.
Some references are below; I've labeled some with "[GRAPHIC WARNING]"
where there are images of raw blood products so that readers with sensitive
stomachs have advanced warning.
~SphynxCatVP, January 1, 2011
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