As most of you have already noticed, the number one food trend for 2020 is definitely incorporating more plant-based foods into our diet. Due to recent films like Game Changers and Forks Over Knives, a lot of people are starting to look for alternatives to the traditional diet as we know it. Whether it be reducing our meat consumption and incorporating more plant based foods or replacing our meat all together with “meat-like” alternatives like Beyond Meat and a variety of other plant-based options, we are all looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint to help the environment as well as improve our health.
Growing up we were taught that in order to have a well-balanced diet, we needed to eat from the following four categories: grains and bread, fruits and vegetable, meat and fish and of course dairy. Well all of that has changed. With the release of Canada’s Food Guide, in order to incorporate a healthy well balanced diet, we need to consume from the following categories: fruits and vegetables, foods with protein and whole grain foods. In other words, as long as we are getting the required nutrients, it does not matter whether we receive it from an animal or a plant and dairy is no longer a requirement.
We had the pleasure to interview Registered Dietician and Food and Lifestyle Blogger of Fraiche Nutrition Tori Wesszer to ask her some of our questions as to how to incorporate these new changes into our diets and to share some of her favorite plant based recipes with us. Tori philosophy is all about eating quality, healthy and sustainable foods in moderation but without deprivation, definitely my type of eating.
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HOLR: Why do you think it took so long for the Canada’s Food Guide to make the shift to plant based options?
TORI: The food guide is a guidance document for Canadians, and guidance documents are slow moving entities. The food guide also requires a lot of consensus among health care professionals – this takes time. The latest version of Canada’s Food Guide is a huge departure from the original version and is built on the best current evidence that we have to help guide Canadians to make better food choices. Like many things, the food guide is an example of ‘when you know better you do better’.
HOLR: Why do you feel that Canada’s Food Guide removed dairy from their daily requirements?
TORI: Once upon a time we believed that you needed dairy to get enough of certain nutrients like calcium. We now know that while dairy is still a rich source of these nutrients, that you don’t need it in your diet to get things like calcium, and that a properly planned plant based diet can satisfy these needs.
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HOLR: With food being more and more sensationalized (i.e. Food TV cooking shows, etc.) in this day and age, what would you say to someone to convince them to try more plant based proteins?
Tori: think that there is this misconception that plant based eating is boring or tasteless, and it certainly doesn’t have to be! Plant based eating doesn’t need to come with compromise. And a lot of people still think that you need to eat meat to get enough protein. I’d say start somewhere and just TRY it. So many people are pleasantly surprised at how delicious and satisfying plant based meals can be! But start with a comfort food that you know and love. For instance, if chili is your thing just try tweaking a recipe to make it plant based so that the food is still familiar.
HOLR: Do you think that plant based proteins like Beyond Meat beef, burgers, etc. are healthy?
TORI: Like many foods, I think that they fit into a balance diet. Beyond Meat Burgers contain 35% less saturated fat and total fat, no cholesterol (cholesterol is only found in animal foods) and more iron than regular ground beef. It’s my personal go-to option for those occasions when I’m craving a burger.
HOLR: While Beyond Meat are a great alternative to meat, it still contains a lot of artificial ingredients – do you think there’s still opportunity to mitigate the amount of artificial ingredients?
TORI: It takes a crazy amount of innovation to get plants to taste like meat – it still boggles my mind! And yes, it is so awesome that we have plant based options for people who still love the taste and texture of meat but want to make a positive change in their diets. There are a lot of ingredients in the burgers, but to be honest when you break down the ingredient list they aren’t so foreign. It’s made from mung beans, rice, beet juice and pea protein among other plant based ingredients. I think that it’s the long ingredient list that gives people the impression of being ‘artificial’.
HOLR: We are seeing a huge change in plant based alternatives in most restaurants now including major fast food chains, why do you think these establishments are embracing plant based protein and what took them so long?
TORI: Well it’s likely in response to consumer demand, and up until now I don’t think that the plant based movement was as strong.
HOLR: What are your tips to incorporate more plant based options including protein into your everyday diet/recipes.
Making our own cashew cream has actually been a game changer for us to help replace cream in traditional recipes, as are ‘hacks’ like chia or flax eggs for baking. Try swapping beans, tofu or tempeh for meat in a favorite dish where it makes sense or Beyond Beef when you want to create something closer to the original dish, and invest in a good cookbook or two (shameless plug: my cousin and I just published a cookbook called Fraiche Food, Full Hearts that is filled with plant-based comfort food recipes). Many recipes work so well with a plant based ingredient substitute such as oat or almond milk vs cow’s milk in baking, overnight oats or smoothies.
HOLR: Do you think it is safe and healthy to raise kids on a 100% plant based diet?
TORI: It can be with proper planning, but it isn’t necessarily simple or intuitive. Plants are filling and contain a lot of fibre, and are less energy dense. There are also some key nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron and calcium to name a few that you need to ensure that you get enough of (big people and little ones alike). If you are planning on feeding your child a 100% plant based diet, I recommend consulting a dietitian who is knowledgeable in this area who can help give guidance.
HOLR: What are some of your favorite plant based recipes that you cook at home for you and your family?
TORI: We LOVE the veggie pasta sauce out of the cookbook along with the tacos – the Coconut Cauliflower Tacos are insanely good and satisfying! We eat a lot of salads that are filled with beans and hearty veggies, creamy vegetable soups (made with cashew cream) and comfort foods like Shepherd’s Pie (check out the blog for the recipe, fraicheliving.com)
Thank you Tori for sharing your insight and advice as to how we can all easily incorporate these changes into our daily lives and to make healthier decisions. I definitely think that this trend of incorporating more plant based foods into our diet is more than a trend and is here to stay. To check out some more amazing recipes, please check out Tori’s blog at: fraicheliving.com