Plant-based food: Is it healthy for us and the planet?

Plant-based food: Is it healthy for us and the planet?

The Vancouver Humane Society’s Chantelle Archambault recently appeared as a speaker at UBC Robson Square Theatre for an exciting discussion about plant-based food, “Can healthier diets help our planet?”

The event was moderated by Professor Charlyn Black of the UBC School of Population & Public Health, and also featured speakers Michael Klaper of Moving Medicine Forward, Navin Ramankutty of the UBC Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, and Jade Dittaro of the UBC Family Practice Training Sites.

Presentations mention the following resources:

Introduction by Charlyn Black

Plant-based foods & health with Michael Klaper

Plant-based foods & the environment with Navin Ramankutty

Impacts of shifting to plant-based foods in the Lower Mainland with Chantelle Archambault

Intersections of planetary health and human health in education with Jade Dittaro

Panel discussion

21 day challenges:

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Eating a plant-based diet for 1 year saves enough emissions to power a home for 6 months!

Switching to a plant-based diet could save up to 816kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per year, says a report by the Vancouver Humane Society – enough emissions to power a home for six months!

Read report
@vancouverhumane Eating plant-based saves as much emissions as cutting an entire home's energy use in half! #PlantBased #Environment #Sustainable #EcoFriendly ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

The report details how eating more plant-based foods can help individuals in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland to cut down on grocery costs, reduce emissions, and save animal lives. 

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

A switch away from beef carries the greatest environmental impact – in the typical Lower Mainland diet, swapping beef for lentils reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly twice as much as swapping out all other animal products combined. 

In addition to emissions savings, switching to a plant-based diet could reduce your annual grocery bill by $600 and save the lives of sentient farmed animals.

Will you be choosing more plant-based meals for the planet?

If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint by eating more sustainable plant-based foods, check out these recipes from the Vancouver Humane Society’s Plant University platform!

All recipes

Eating more plants could save you 14% on groceries, says new report 

VANCOUVER, May 30, 2023 – Switching to a plant-based diet could save you around 14% at the till, says a report released today by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS). The report details how eating more plant-based foods can help individuals in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland to cut down on grocery costs, reduce emissions, and save animal lives. 

@vancouverhumane Eating a plant-based diet could save you $600 a year on groceries! #PlantBased #Vegan #VeganForTheAnimals #Budgeting ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

These findings follow the release of a poll commissioned by the VHS, which found that 92% of Lower Mainland residents are concerned about how the rising cost of living is impacting their finances and 66% would be open to eating more plant-based foods to save money. Food costs have skyrocketed over the past year, increasing by more than double the overall annual inflation rate at about 10%, and are expected to rise by 5 to 7% this year according to Canada’s Food Price Report 2023

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

By making the swap to plant-based alternatives, the average person could save $50 each month on groceries. That’s about 14% of the typical monthly cost of groceries for a person living in Vancouver, which was $355.28 last year. The savings are greatest when swapping out animal products for whole foods – for instance, switching from chicken to tofu rather than to manufactured meat alternatives. 

Individuals who eat a lot of beef and seafood could see even higher savings. Swapping 21 servings of beef for lentils each month could save $60, while swapping 21 servings of seafood for mushrooms could save a whopping $64 monthly.

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

In addition to cost savings, eating a plant-based diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 816kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) annually – about half of what it takes to power an entire home for a year. 

Image: Vancouver Humane Society, A Transition Toward Plant-Based Diets: A study amongst BC residents in the Lower Mainland

A switch away from beef carries the greatest environmental impact – in the typical Lower Mainland diet, swapping beef for lentils reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly twice as much as swapping out all other animal products combined. 

In 2020, a similar report from the VHS entitled “Increasing Plant-Based Purchasing at the Municipal Level” outlined the benefits of shifting toward more plant-based foods purchased by the City of Vancouver, including through catering, city-run concession stands, and municipal food funding. That report found by replacing 20% of animal-based food products with plant-based alternatives, the City of Vancouver could save up to $99,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500 tonnes. In 2021, the Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion to explore policy recommendations outlined in the report. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca   

Related links: 

https://plantuniversit.wpengine.com/individual/plant-based-poll/

https://plantuniversit.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Final-VHS-Report-Plant-Based-Diets-.pdf

Related media:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iekaOJi-k5iIl7o70uUEafciZWFPlyYf?usp=sharing

https://www.tiktok.com/@vancouverhumane/video/7238681795196095750

Polling data from the Lower Mainland shows a plant-forward future is on the horizon

Polling data from the Lower Mainland shows a plant-forward future is on the horizon

For friends sit around a coffee table eating vegan food.

VANCOUVER, April 18, 2023 – Younger generations in B.C.’s Lower Mainland are increasingly shifting their diets toward plant-based foods, new polling data reveals.

The research poll, commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), examines the dietary preferences and opinions around plant-based eating of Lower Mainland residents. The study was conducted among a representative sample of 803 Lower Mainland residents aged 18+ who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.

Responses reveal a trend away from meat and animal products with each passing generation: vegans and vegetarians comprised 10% of respondents aged 18-34, 9% of respondents aged 35-54, and 6% of respondents aged 55+.

A similar trend can be found when looking at respondents’ reduction of animal-based products. 69% of respondents aged 18-34 had reduced their animal product consumption, compared to 66% of respondents aged 35-54 and 60% of respondents aged 55+.

In addition to vegans and vegetarians, more respondents in the youngest generation identified their diet as “flexitarian” – primarily eating plant-based foods with occasional consumption of animal-based products. 7% of respondents aged 18-34, and 5% of both other age groups surveyed identified as flexitarian.

@vancouverhumane See what people had to say about plant-based eating at PlantUniversity.ca. #PlantBasedFood #Vegan #PlantBased #VeganForTheAnimals ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

“The increasing availability of plant-based foods and the growing popularity of plant-based diets are mutually reinforcing,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault. “Public demand for tasty animal-free options is driving a huge shift in the industry, which in turn makes it easier than ever for more people to put plant-forward meals on their plates.”

Interestingly, motivations for shifting toward a plant-based diet varied by generation. Respondents aged 18-34 identified both economic reasons and environmental concerns as the top factors influencing their decision to consume fewer animal products, while other age demographics were most motivated by personal health.

When considering how and what to eat overall, every age group was most motivated by taste. Archambault says this is also a hopeful sign for the future.

“As the food industry continues to develop innovative tastes and textures for plant-based products, we’re sure to see a wider shift toward a society that eats more sustainably.”

For those looking to add more plants into their diets, the VHS offers free resources and recipes on their Plant University website.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society 

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

Related links: 

https://plantuniversit.wpengine.com/individual/plant-based-poll/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Qudl4TuKmu7D0Wb2yaPWQF3ChSBJSPTD/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=117203468459354511033&rtpof=true&sd=true

Nearly 3 in 4 British Columbians believe menus with plant-based options are “more inclusive”: research

Nearly 3 in 4 British Columbians believe menus with plant-based options are “more inclusive”: research

VANCOUVER, April 13, 2023 – The majority of British Columbians in the Lower Mainland have positive feelings about plant-based menu options, new polling data reveals. 

The research poll, commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) among a representative sample of Lower Mainland residents from the Angus Reid Forum, asked participants about their dietary preferences and attitudes around plant-based eating.  

73% of respondents agreed that “Food services that offer a greater variety of plant-based options are more inclusive to all”. This sentiment was shared by a majority of people regardless of their own dietary preferences; 95% of vegans or vegetarians and 71% of people following other diets agreed with the statement. 

The poll results demonstrate that the demand for plant-based options is growing, with 65% of respondents having reduced their consumption of animal products.  

Differences between age demographics indicate a growing shift toward plant-based foods over each generation – 69% of respondents aged 18-34 had reduced their animal product consumption, compared to 66% of respondents aged 35-54 and 60% of respondents aged 55+. 

“A growing number of consumers are reducing or eliminating animal-based products, with more people turning to plant-based options when they are available,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault.  

Businesses and organizations are already moving to meet the growing demand for plant-forward foods. Many institutions that now offer plant-based menu items, such as Panago Pizza and the University of British Columbia (UBC), cite sustainability commitments as one motivation for the shift.  

“There are so many great reasons to shift towards a more plant-based diet but for us at UBC Food Services we have done this to support the health of our students and the planet,” said David Speight, Executive Chef and Culinary Director of UBC Food Services. “We know that plant-based diets can provide excellent health benefits for our students and they reduce the negative environmental impacts on our planet compared to more animal protein centric diets.” 

Other local businesses and institutions are stepping up to meet consumer demand as well. Last year, the City of Vancouver committed to exploring a 20% reduction in animal-based products in favour of plant-based foods in their municipal food purchasing, such as through catering and city-owned concessions.  

The new polling data suggests that this growing movement toward accessible, affordable, and tasty plant-based options could prompt a greater dietary shift in the future. 65% of respondents identified that they “would eat more plant-based meals if there were more tasty options available when going out to eat”. 

Speight added, “We have shifted a large percentage of our menu offerings to plant-based and our students are still asking for more. It shows a real hunger for great tasting plant-based offerings.” 

@vancouverhumane Visit PlantUniversity.ca for more information! #PlantBased #BCBusiness #Vegan #PlantBasedFood ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

“With the public increasingly interested in plant-forward food items and calling for corporate responsibility, we’re eager to see more businesses and organizations introduce plant-based options in the coming years to avoid being left behind,” said Archambault. 

This shift has the important added benefit of reducing the number of animals suffering for human food production.  

The VHS is offering free support to B.C.-based institutions, such as restaurants, long-term care homes, and schools, that are interesting in introducing more plant-based menu items. 

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society 

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, chantelle@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

Related links: 

https://plantuniversit.wpengine.com/individual/plant-based-poll/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Qudl4TuKmu7D0Wb2yaPWQF3ChSBJSPTD/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=117203468459354511033&rtpof=true&sd=true

https://plantuniversit.wpengine.com/blog-post/the-university-of-british-columbia-lessons-in-creating-a-plant-forward-campus/

https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/posts/municipal-plant-based-purchasing/