What if we told you that your next meal can taste amazing while also supporting your health and the planet by being plant-based? Interested?
Not a vegan or vegetarian? No problem! Even meat lovers can choose a meatless meal once in a while and make a positive planet & health impact.
Which is exactly what Creative Dining’s diners have been doing.
All last week we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day (called Earth Day 50.5 because of the 6-month delay in celebration due to COVID-19) with advocacy about the delicious, nutritious benefits and planet-friendly practice of plant-based eating. Our participating dining locations featured mouth watering plant-based cuisine with the added benefit of supporting environmental justice. And we’re not doing it alone.
The USHS team of Culinary Specialists has been educating and inspiring Creative Dining chefs on all things plant-based while also strategically advising our Animal Welfare policies. The HSUS recently developed 60 delicious, nutritious and lower-carbon recipes, exclusively for Creative Dining’s diners, which launched as part of Earth Week 50.5.
“The future is about a plant-based diet.” Jamie Oliver, Emmy winner, chef and restaurateur
The demand for plant-based eating is skyrocketing with no slow down in sight. Plant-based meat sales grew 268% from 2018 to 2019 (DiningAlliance). And almost one quarter (24%) of consumers report eating more plant-based meals since the COVID 19 pandemic began (Good Food Institute). Diners today are savvy and educated, and we are prepared to meet their demand for plant-based options, that anyone would find delicious.
Want to learn what all this plant-based noise is about? Read on.
We asked Creative Dining’s Senior Director of Operations & Corporate Sustainability, Janine Oberstadt, how our meal choices affect our planet. Turns out, it’s a lot. Here’s what she had to say:
“When diners ask me what can be their biggest contribution to reducing carbon emissions, I always reply “eat less meat.” It’s often not what people are expecting, and at first, can sound overly simple. But here’s the rationale: First, by “meat” I mean all animal products, not just beef, pork and chicken, but dairy as well. Why? Because of the intensive input of resources required to produce a meat (i.e. water, fertilizers, energy) just to grow the animal feed. In addition, the greenhouse gasses (GHG) produced in livestock production is a contributor to climate change. So in general, meat production has a large environmental footprint. Plants by comparison require much fewer inputs and have a significantly smaller environmental footprint. All of us can do our part by simply eating less animal products, more plants”.
It’s not an all or nothing proposition. By committing to eat a few plant-based meals per week, each of us can incrementally reduce our carbon footprint. If this simple change can be scaled, the benefits could be extremely impactful to overall GHG emissions, slowing climate change.
Which leads us to…
If you think eating vegan, vegetarian, or plant-centric meals mean sacrificing flavor, think again. You can be a meat eater and still indulge in a meatless meal once a day or week, and there’s no need to sacrifice flavor at all. Don’t believe us?
The next time you go to a restaurant or scroll for a recipe to cook, don’t pass by the plant-based options simply because you don’t consider yourself a vegetarian or vegan. Be a “flexitarian!” Slowly adding more plant-based meals into your diet can have benefits that your life (literally!) depends on. How’s that you ask? By eating plant-based, you’re not sacrificing flavor, you’re sacrificing unhealthy saturated fat, the fat mainly found in animal-based foods.
People following plant-based diets are less likely to develop chronic diseases, compared with other dietary groups, according to a study funded by the NIH/National Cancer Institute. Researchers analyzed different diets and found the plant-based group had the lowest risk for cancer, heart disease, and hypertension, compared with the other diets. (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
And in case you were worried, a varied plant-based diet of whole grains, vegetables, and beans can easily meet your daily protein needs, without the risks animal products pose to your health and the environment.
For example, tempeh is one way to power up with plants. What is tempeh? Tempeh is a nutrient-dense soy product with a high amount of protein, as well as various vitamins and minerals. It may decrease cholesterol levels, oxidative stress and appetite while improving bone health. Tempeh also contains prebiotics, which may improve digestive health and reduce inflammation. (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tempeh)
This Battered Tempeh Torta Sandwich has 20 grams of hearty & delicious protein:
What is Janine’s favorite plant-based meal? Charred Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos and Avocado Chocolate-Mousse for dessert. Can we come over for dinner tonight, Janine?
We don’t have to limit celebrating the Earth to one day (or one week) a year when there’s three meals a day to celebrate! The next time you see a plant-based, meatless option on a menu, will you join us flexitarians and give it a chance? Be a part of the positive, delicious change for your health and for the planet.