Tips for eating plant-based foods

Updated: Mar 27

What does plant-based mean?

Plant-based foods are derived from plants. They can be composed of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes. By 2025, the plant-based food market will be valued at CAD$49.2

billion. The number of plant-based products available is increasing in grocery stores, restaurant menus, fast food chains and in your home. The rapid growth in plant-based foods is due to people in Europe and North America experiencing numerous benefits. A few of these benefits include health, interest in new foods, environmental impact, and animal welfare.

Environmental Impact

The land used to grow and cultivate our food is a major factor of climate change. This includes food production, transportation, consumption, and waste that are accountable for a third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is estimated that 23% of GHG emissions come from livestock, land and forests used to raise them. The exploitation of more than 70% of the world’s land increased air temperature by more than 1.5°C. If this continues to increase many people will be in a water crisis. Additionally, 25-30% of food is wasted globally and approximately 10% accounts for GHG emissions by human activity. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of GHG after the U.S. and China.

Reducing food waste and transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle could greatly impact carbon dioxide emissions. Minimizing carbon effects is essential to fight climate change. A shift to plant-based foods significantly reduces the amount of land being used compared to producing dairy and meat. A plant-based lifestyle can reverse climate change as it minimizes GHG emissions by aligning food with sustainable practices.

We all must play a role in this journey. Every choice we make at the grocery store conveys a message to food producers.

My journey

My plant-based journey began over a year ago when I was looking into alternatives for poultry and meat and was not sure where to begin. I started by trying different items in the grocery store and discovered what I loved and what I did not like so much. I enjoy making new recipes while following sustainable practices to create something tasty.

There are no stages, and neither lifestyle is better than another. It is best to understand what works for you!

Plant-based foods, recipes and brands can be challenging to start, but when you do, you will realize your own creativity with food and cooking your own delicious meals. It is not easy to change what we eat; however, it is possible.


To begin eating in a more environmentally friendly way here a few tips to guide you.


Food alternatives

Think about what foods you would like to substitute and find replacements for them.

Tofu is a delicious replacement for chicken. Extra firm tofu is a key ingredient in my recipes. I make sure to press my tofu for at least 30 minutes – 1 hour. Pressing tofu means wrapping it in a clean towel and placing something heavy on top of it such as a pot with some jars inside. This allows the water in the tofu to be removed. There are many options to season your tofu (recipes below).

If you love General Tso, make it with cauliflower! It is super tasty and delicious. No air fryer, no problem. Bake the breaded cauliflower at 400°F for 15-20 minutes. Some tips are to bake the cauliflower first with breadcrumbs. Then, season it with soy sauce. In addition, for those who love spice, buffalo cauliflower bites are a perfect blend (recipes below).

Replacing dairy milk with a plant-based milk can be a great option for health, animal welfare and greenhouse gas output. Some options include oat and almond milk. These are great plant-based alternatives and very flavourful. I use the plant-based brand Earth’s Own vanilla almond milk and original unsweetened oat milk. In recipes, I use the regular oat milk as a replacement for cream. Check out What Milk is best for the planet and discover which one catches your eye.

For dessert, chocolate humus is an excellent non-dairy alternative to a regular chocolate dip for fruits and crackers.

Dairy-free yogurt - The Daiya Vanilla bean yogurt alternative made with coconut cream is my top favorite. Mix this yogurt with some blueberries, bananas, and oats for a great breakfast.


Research plant-based brands

Some of my favourite products are:

  • Yves Veggie Cuisine ground round. This can be used in pasta with sauce, for veggie tacos or taco bowls and so much more. Be creative with cooking and add it into your favourite meals. Yves veggie cuisine also has many options for plant-based burgers, nuggets, and meatless meatballs.

  • Beyond Meat also offers plant-based sausages, burgers, and ground.

  • A local brand Gusta which is located at the Jean Talon Market offers seven different flavours of vegan sausage. I have tried the Italian and it is very tasty!

  • Gardein – My top Gardein products are the seven grain crispy tenders which can be eaten in a wrap and the mandarin crispy chick’n. They also offer fishless products.

  • My most recent discovery is Tofurky. Their plant based chick’n is lightly seasoned and goes perfectly paired with rice and vegetables.

  • Lightlife plant-based tenders. These can be pan grilled and seasoned to your taste then mixed into a vegetable stir-fry.


Some of these products do contain soy, so be mindful when shopping!

Many of these products can be found at a local grocery store or a vegan grocery store.


Use Pinterest to discover delicious recipes or create your own (also find some on our blog!)

I use Pinterest to discover a lot of plant-based recipes and ideas. Sometimes I follow the entire recipe to the tee, but most times I make it my own by adding in my preferred vegetables and spices.

Our website contains wonderful recipes ranging for all sorts of meals such as a delicious tomato sauce, a fruity smoothie, a delightful cumin carrot salad and pesto sauce.


More vegetables

Including a variety of vegetables can be a good way to begin. For lunch, try an eggplant sandwich with some tomatoes and cheese as opposed to a meat-based sandwich.

Include vegetable and legumes in your dinners. To list a few:

· Zucchini

· Peppers

· Spinach

· Butternut squash

· Sweet Potatoes

· Eggplant

· Edamame

· Mushrooms

· Chickpeas

· Beans

· Lentils

Try a quinoa salad with roasted vegetables. My dressing contains olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and a bit of lemon. It is also very important to stick with seasonal produce for a richer flavour. Not only do you save on costs, but you help the environment and consume a greater nutritional value. This sustainable practice can guide you to make recipes based on seasonal produce.


We hope this inspired you to try something new and we hope you will try some of these foods and recipes in your home. We are here to create a more sustainable planet!


KF


Recipes:

Sesame tofu: https://veggiesociety.com/sesame-tofu-recipe-broccoli/

Butter tofu: https://runningonrealfood.com/easy-vegan-butter-chicken/

Cauliflower general tso: https://pin.it/1XuyRyR

Buffalo Cauliflower bites: https://www.skinnytaste.com/spicy-buffalo-cauliflower-bites/



References

https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/agriculture/shifting-to-plant-based-diets-crucial-in-fight-against-climate-change/

https://www.earthday.org/un-report-plant-based-diets-provide-major-opportunities-to-address-climate-crisis/

https://theconversation.com/diet-resolutions-6-things-to-know-about-eating-less-meat-and-more-plant-based-foods-148871

https://www.forbes.com/sites/briankateman/2020/12/21/the-top-10-trends-in-plant-based-food-in-2020-and-where-were-going-in-2021/?sh=6da9c8203729


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