Pollution Probe is working to create an exciting new program that supports Canadians making healthy, environmentally conscious food choices through collaboration with culinary leaders.
Menus of Change is an initiative from The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that works to realize plant-forward dining as a mainstream concept. Plant-forward is a style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates, but is not limited to, plant-based foods. Pollution Probe is in discussion with Menus of Change about how we can bring a similar initiative to the Canadian culinary industry. Read more about Menus of Change at www.menusofchange.org
In the short term, we are building the foundation of the program through market research, establishing meaningful collaboration partners and convening stakeholders.
In the long term, we seek to influence sustainable and healthy menu changes by collaborating with culinary leaders in a wide range of industries to develop content for culinary school curriculum, create chef toolkits, establish a restaurant directory and design plant forward menu labelling.
Our focus is influencing restaurant menu changes. The increase in our consumption of restaurant food has also increased the demand for healthy options. The Canadian market reflects similar results as the findings from the National Restaurant Association, U.S. that adults purchase a restaurant snack or meal 5.8 times per week. To support this demand, the culinary industry needs tools to make plant-forward meals delicious and craveable.
• defining the Canadian market
• identifying what culinary professionals need to support healthy, low-carbon foods
• building a foundation for the program on the researched market values
• working with registered nutritionists, dieticians and culinary experts to influence the curriculum at select culinary schools to reflect more plant-forward menus and techniques, drawing on the plant-forward certification program that is currently being designed by the Culinary Institute of America
• working with registered nutritionists, dieticians, chefs and food service companies to change menus, evolve planning and procurement practices and measure results
• working with food services at colleges and universities to reach their customers, a promising target market for this initiative
Engagement + Impact
• engaging the public through plant-forward menu labelling
• creating a restaurant directory of plant-forward dining to help consumers make conscious choices
• delivering practical content to culinary professionals
• creating awareness through registered nutritionist backed informative social media infographics and posts
• measuring results and evaluating impact at all stages
What we eat has a significant impact on our bodies, the environment, and the economy. Food also plays a major role in our day-to-day lives, is deeply ingrained in our cultures, and can be the corner stone of how we socialize and enjoy many aspects of life. Pollution Probe understands that making healthy, sustainable food choices isn’t always straight forward and therefore we are launching Plant-Forward Menus: Inspiring Healthy, Sustainable Eating.
What is the difference between veganism, plant-based & plant-forward?
Veganism is a lifestyle where people choose not to consume, use or buy any food or products that are made from any part of an animal.
Plant-based diets do not include animal products and are usually comprised of whole foods that have not been heavily processed. Eating a plant-based diet does not mean that you follow a vegan lifestyle. This can also be referred to as a vegan diet.
Plant-forward is the movement away from consuming high amounts of animal products and instead putting a focus on including more plant-based foods into your everyday diet.
Plant-forward eating is a growing movement for health conscious people all over the world.
Accessible health documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food Matters and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead sparked wide spread intrigue into how typical all American diets are contributing to poor health and plant-based diets can improve health conditions and overall lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues. Although these documentaries drove interest towards eating plant-based foods, Pollution Probe recognizes that these documentaries may not be completely accurate or scientifically rigorous in their statements.
Our program looks towards controlled, peer-reviewed studies from various institutions that have shown evidence to support plant-forward diets.
The largest study done so far by the National Cancer Institute in Maryland looked at the eating habits of 536,000 men and women between ages 50-71 for 16 years linked the consumption of both processed and unprocessed meat to an increase in death rates from nine different diseases. The results are published in the British Medical Journal here: http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1957
As climate change awareness increases and we become more conscious of our impact, the carbon footprint of our diets has become a leading topic. According to a report done by The Environmental Working Group based in Washington D.C., lentils have a 97.7% lower carbon footprint than meat. Business Insider did an analysis of this report highlighting the top 10 foods with the largest environmental footprint here: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-10-foods-with-the-biggest-environmental-footprint-2015-9
As plant-based and plant-forward diets become mainstream, the market for vegan products has increased 8.1% in 2017 making $3.1 billion according to research by Nielson for the Plant Based Foods Association featured in Forbes Magazine article “Why you should turn your business vegan in 2018” https://www.forbes.com/sites/katrinafox/2017/12/27/heres-why-you-should-turn-your-business-vegan-in-2018/#6286a4492144 According to this article it is expected that the meat substitute industry will bank $5.3 billion by 2020.
The article goes on to highlight how the meat, dairy and egg industries are feeling the pinch of the market demand for alternatives. Cow’s milk suppliers sales have dropped up to 22% in the past fiscal year and are projected to keep dropping and the egg industry also saw a 7% drop in sales.
Big suppliers are starting to evolve has the market changes. Meat producers like Tyson have invested in a 5% stake in plant-based meat alternatives. Elmhurst Dairy based in New York has converted into a nut milk brand after 92 years of manufacturing milk products. The CEO Henry Schwartz stated in interviews with Business Insider that “Pasteurized milk has sort of gone out of style, there isn’t much room for our kind of business.” and that “it was time to embrace a new model and look toward the future.” http://www.businessinsider.com/dairy-farm-nut-milks-elmhurst-2017-4