Eating plant based in 2020

canada's food guide

With the recent creation of Beyond Meat and shift in Canada's food guide, people are choosing to eat more plant-based foods in 2020.

Registered Dietitian and Food and Lifestyle Blogger, Tori Wesszer says there's no doubt that a plant based lifestyle helps reduce the risk of certain diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

“Then of course a lot of people are trying to get a little bit maybe more fit and feel a little better in their digestive health. Plant-based diets tend to be higher in fibre, which is of course better for our digestion, [because it] gets things moving.  And I think fibre is something that as a population we really lack and there's not so much emphasis on it so I think it's really important to think about that,” said Wesszer.

But with a wide-variety of options on the market, it can be challenging to identify the nutritional value of what you're eating.

When comparing Beyond Meat to ground beef, Wesszer points out a clear difference in nutrients.

“So, of course, Beyond Beef is made out of plants, which is a massive difference, and the ingredients are really recognizable. They're the mung bean protein and brown rice and from a nutritional perspective there's less saturated fat, so about 35 percent less saturated fat versus traditional ground, there's more iron and there's no cholesterol.”

She said veggie ground can be used in any recipe that calls for traditional ground beef, adding to the notion that you don't have to compromise on flavour to eat plant-based.

Wesszer has noticed a huge misconception that eating plant-based is difficult, costly and unpalatable, so she offered a few quick tips.

“Doing things like stocking up your pantry and stocking up your freezer with options that make your life easier are great. You know, frozen vegetables, plant-based ground, like Beyond Beef which is fabulous, really lets you enjoy those good old' comfort foods without the compromise and still being able to totally enjoy it in a plant-based lifestyle,” said Wesszer.

She encourages people to start incorporating one meatless meal or day into your week to start, if jumping right in is too daunting.

When it comes to incorporating more plant-based foods into a child's diet or the diet of a picky eater, Wesszer suggested sticking to what they know.

“Try to incorporate foods that they already love and then layer in into a meal maybe one or two new meals. Get them involved in the kitchen. Kids love to be involved, it's messy but it's so worth it. You know, get them to pick out the ingredients,” adding that involving kids in the preparation and cooking process actually encourages the development of healthy eating habits.

The federal government updated Canada's food guide in January of 2019.

The guide no longer offers food groups or portion sizes; instead it promotes more plant-based proteins and pushes meat and dairy to the back burner.

“The food guide before was quite structured and I think it was very unmanageable for people to wrap their heads around portion sizes and also food groups. The food culture has changed so much and the current food guide really reflects current trends and the science behind healthy eating,” said Wesszer.

The new food guide also highlights the benefits of eating in a group and cooking your own meals instead of ordering in.

Wesszer anticipates more innovation and options for plant-based alternatives will be developed over the new decade.