Win a $300 Vegan Supply gift card!

Win a $300 Vegan Supply gift card!

@vancouverhumane ✨ Recipe making contest & Giveaway ✨ Want to win a $300 gift card to Vegan Supply, or other fun prizes? Here’s how: ✅ FOLLOW @vancouverhumane ✅ POST a video or photo of you making, presenting, or taste testing a recipe from – be sure to tag #PlantUniversity ✅ TAG at least two friends in the comments of this post or your recipe post Prizes: 🥇 $300 gift card to Vegan Supply and featured on 🥈 Easy Animal Free cookbook and featured on 🥉 5-10 more people’s entries will be featured on the site! Contest open to those residing anywhere in Canada! Contest closes at 11:59PM PST September 30, 2023 Winners will be contacted by the VHS via DM #vegan #vancouvervegan #canadavegan #contest #veganrecipes #britishcolumbia #plantuniversity #recipesoftiktok #vegansupply #giveaway #vegangiveaway #vegancontest #contestalert #canadacontest ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

Want to win a $300 gift card to Vegan Supply, or other fun prizes?

Here’s how:

✅ FOLLOW @vancouverhumane on TikTok or Instagram.

✅ POST a video or photo on either TikTok or Instagram of you making, presenting, or taste testing a recipe from Be sure to tag #PlantUniversity.

✅ TAG at least two friends in the comments of your recipe post.


🥇 $300 gift card to Vegan Supply, a personalized signed copy of Easy Animal Free cookbook, and featured on

🥈 Easy Animal Free cookbook and featured on

🥉 5-10 more people’s entries will be featured on the site!

Contest open to those residing anywhere in Canada!
Contest closes at 11:59PM PST September 30, 2023
Winners will be contacted by the VHS via DM

More recipes to try

Kathi rolls

spicy Kathi rolls Spicy and flavourful Skip to video Kathi rolls…

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Chat with a vegan: Dreena Burton, cookbook author and fascial stretch instructor

Chat with a Vegan: Dreena Burton, cookbook author and fascial stretch instructor

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, Emma Levez Larocque sat down and spoke with Dreena Burton. Dreena is a plant-based cookbook author and a yoga and fascial stretch instructor based in Vancouver, British Columbia. We hope you find her experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Dreena across multiple platforms:

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

How did your vegan journey begin?

I kind of just went through this period in my teenage years where I noticed I wasn’t feeling so good, and that’s when I really started to pay attention to what I was eating.

I was constipated a lot. My digestion didn’t feel good. I was starting to have joint pain problems in my early twenties and I came across a couple of books that opened my eyes. One was Diet for a New America by John Robbins and the other was Fit For Life. Both really opened my eyes to dairy, big time to dairy, and also to not eating meat, and phasing it out. So that’s how I moved into it, was phasing it out. There’s that magic time of about, I think a month, they say to really let the body change and adapt and your palate to open. And that happened for me.

It’s been over 25 years, but I can’t imagine having lived any other way. It was so obscure at the time. And I think living out West gave me a little more opportunity to feel that was accessible because there was more interest in it in the area that we live.

How did you get started writing cookbooks?

I was led into my cookbooks, I’d say largely, from moving out West. And at the time, my husband’s father had had a heart attack and his cardiologist in St. John’s recommended a plant-based diet, which was really unheard of.

I had been working in a marketing position in St. John’s and my heart was not in it at all. I was just like, I cannot see myself doing this for the rest of my life. People said to me, you know, when you talk about food, you light up. I was like, of course I do. Loved it since I was a kid. I knew my parents-in-law were needing help with recipes, and that’s when I just started to sketch things out myself. I wanted to create recipes that I felt like they could use, and they were healthy, whole foods, very low in fat for what health conditions they were going through.

That was the start of it for me. And then I kind of grew with it with every life change in a way, because the next book involves after having our first daughter and trying to incorporate more foods to feed her and those concepts.

How did you start teaching yoga and fascia classes?

 I felt great in my body through food, through diet. That removed a lot of pain and discomfort in my body up until about my 40s. And then things started to change where I was feeling like my joints were hurting and my body just the things I love to do like cooking, for instance, even caused me pain. I thought maybe I’m just missing something like alignment, how to align your body.

So I took yoga and I wasn’t sure if I was going to teach. To me, it was just to learn, but something kind of pulled me into wanting to teach.

So, I just kind of kept on that journey in the background and I was teaching at a studio. But the joint stuff didn’t go away and it was irritating to me because I felt like I’m doing everything right.

And then I came across this work to change your fascia, which really has changed my life because I don’t have the pain anymore. When I talk about fascia work, this is working at the tissues on a deeper level from the inside out. It’s a movement practice, but it’s not yoga.

Everything that we’ve done in our life has shaped the quality and health of our connective tissue. And we want to keep it healthy because if it’s not, it’s dense and dry and not pliable as it should be. It restricts the movement of the limbs. So this is why you have pain. When you can free up the fascia, then the limbs move better. You feel better in your body. And so it’s a really simple formula where you move to create the change from the inside out. It’s the most interesting form of movement that I have.

After a couple of months, I noticed, wow, I can turn my head again. I was like, wow, my tissues feel really different and I’m feeling good in my body again.

So when I started to feel shifts in my body, I can’t explain it other than I felt a draw to it. Just like when I started writing recipes, I felt a draw to it and I’m feeling that with this work.

I’ve had classes that I’ve been running online and now I’m soon to launch a site called Fascia Flo and running zoom classes and video recordings for people to also take.

How do you think healthy veganism and movement are connected?

I feel they’re so interconnected. I feel like you really cannot live well with only one. So let’s say that, because eating a vegan diet, if you’re not really paying attention to the health properties of that vegan diet, if you’re relying a lot, a lot on, we all eat some processed food. If you rely a lot on processed food, then you’re not going to feel good for it.

But similarly, if you’re not moving your body, then you’re also not going to feel good for it. And some people move their bodies all the time and don’t really pay attention to healthy diet. And that, you know, can cause stagnation and issues later on. And also people eat super healthy, but don’t really pay attention to the movement.

We are animals, after all. Species all follow a certain way of eating and they all move. We’re not meant to be as sedentary as we are, and you know, we have to work, we have jobs, we have these things, but we also have to pay attention to what we need to do to balance that out when that is part of our life.

I think when you’re following a plant based diet, you tend to then pull in all these other elements of wellness along the way. If you stay with it, right over time, you want to learn more about this part of wellness. All these little things start to kind of come in and movement’s part of that to me.

What inspires you?

I feel like learning inspires me. I mean, that sounds kind of corny in a way, but I’ve never really idolized people. I’ve looked up to people like I, I would love to meet Dr. Campbell one day. And people who’ve, who’ve taken a different path. even though it was so challenging for them to do so, that’s very inspiring. But also just seeing, you know, people do the things they want to do despite their challenges.

That growth of a human that’s possible is what’s inspiring, and knowing that it doesn’t stop, you know, you remember being in your twenties thinking you know everything, and then you get to your thirties and you think you still know quite a bit. And then you get to your forties and you’re like, I don’t know, I think I’ve got tons to learn. And so you really can keep learning and it’s exciting to keep learning.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Emma Levez Larocque of Plant-based RHN and featured Dreena Burton.

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The best plant-based chocolates from the staff of the Vancouver Humane Society

The best plant-based chocolates from the staff of the Vancouver Humane Society

Delicious chocolates that are also compassionate to animals and the planet are becoming more and more accessible. There are a plethora of plant-based chocolates on the market these days – long gone are the days where one looking to find more humane alternatives to their favourite treats would have to stick to just dark chocolate.

For World Chocolate Day on July 7 this year, the Vancouver Humane Society team is sharing some of their favourite plant-based chocolates that are arguably even more delicious than their dairy-based counterparts!

After reading, check out this blog post for more tips on going dairy free.

All chocolates can be found at Little Vegan Treats, a BC-based online company that is passionate about finding exciting, satisfying treats, showcasing just how delicious it is to live a vegan lifestyle.

I tried the Caroboo Orange Bar a while back and I really liked it. It reminded me of those chocolate oranges that you smash against a table and then you get little segments. We used to have those at Christmas when I was a kid so it was really nostalgic.
I first tried HIP chocolate bars last year and they are so smooth and creamy. I love that they come in several different flavours and my two favourites are Cookies No Cream and Salty Pretzel – the savory and sweet flavours pair together perfectly! I also love that the HIP is part of 1% for the planet.
Growing up, I always loved having Ferrero Rocher around the holidays. After I went vegan, I assumed that I would need to find a new tradition. That’s why I was so excited to find the Nutty Choc Balls from Love Raw at a Little Vegan Treats pop-up in Vancouver—they are absolutely decadent and capture all the nostalgia from of my favourite holiday chocolate!
I love Vego hazelnut chocolate bars. These yummy chocolate bars mix chocolate with hazelnut paste and whole, roasted hazelnuts to create simply the most divine treat on the market! We always have one in the pantry for snack attacks!
I love Doisy & Dam D&D’s crunchy outer shell and nutty and decadent flavour. M&Ms were one of my favourite chocolates as a kid. I would eat them with popcorn when watching movies, so I’m excited to finally have a plant-based version that satisfy tastebuds and align with my values!
I ordered the Buttermilk peanut nougat bar a while ago. It was sooo good. It tasted just like a snickers bar and was very milk chocolate-like! Now I will think about it all day long!

Chocolate recipes to try

Silky chocolate pudding

Silken tofu paired with dates, chocolate and maple syrup are blended up for the ultimate protein-packed pudding.

OH MY fudgesicle shake

Perfect for when you’re craving something sweet but wanting a healthy snack, this will be your go-to warm weather treat!

Looking for more inspiration? See all plant-based recipes in the Plant University recipe library and subscribe to receive free weekly recipes!

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Chat with a vegan: Derek Simnett, nutritionist, YouTuber, and athlete

Chat with a Vegan: Derek Simnett, nutritionist, YouTuber, and athlete

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, PlantUniversity’s Brighde Reed sat down and spoke with Derek Simnett. Derek is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner based in Parksville, British Columbia. He also runs a YouTube channel called Simnett Nutrition where he talks about how to live a healthful vegan life. We hope you find his experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Derek across multiple platforms:

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

Why did you go vegan?

So, I went vegan because of my love for animals. So, it started out as me learning about the animal agriculture industries and how terribly the animals were treated, and I just started to wanna honour my love for them. So, I started to eat more grass-fed meat, and I started to find the free-range eggs and that sort of thing.

Not only did that become expensive, but I started to learn that I wasn’t really saving any animals’ lives. In the end, they were maybe having a slightly better life, but also, there’s some loose regulations around those terms. Let’s say that. So, as I continued, I just started to eat less of them.

I started to feel better and eventually they just completely got off my plate. There was definitely a time where I could not look at what was on my plate and not see the animal that it once was. And I knew once that started happening, every time I thought, ah, I need to completely give this up.

And along with feeling better and starting to perform better, I just thought, ah, this is definitely the way.

Did going vegan inspire you to start a YouTube channel?

I started my YouTube channel to actually bring traffic towards the nutrition consulting services that I was offering at the time. Because I figured what a better way to let people know who I am and give a little bit of free information out there, you know, then start a YouTube channel.

So that’s what I did, but the YouTube channel kind of took off and I decided I really wanted to do that because I figured I could reach a larger audience than doing the one-on-one consulting. And that is how, that’s how it all started. So, it, yes, it kind of did in a sense. I wanted to show people how to live a healthful vegan life.

What do you talk about on your YouTube channel?

My YouTube channel is mostly focused on helping people make healthy, plant-based foods taste good. We can talk all day about the, you know, the minutia and the details and this study says this and this and that, but really, we know that we have to be eating more whole plant foods and a lot of people just don’t know how to make them taste good or they don’t know how to cook them.

And that’s where a lot of people stumble. So, I do that, but I do talk about how much we should be eating, proper supplementation, and that sort of thing as well.

How do you stay in shape as an athlete?

It’s funny hearing someone call me an athlete, but yeah, I guess I am, you know, I do that, I do activities every day. I live a healthy and active lifestyle, so I do definitely go to the gym every single day or at least, you know, five or six times a week. But another big part of me staying, uh, healthy and fit is to exercise outside of that.

And it’s just going for bike rides, you know, jogs. I try and do some sort of movement every day, if not twice a day if I can. The gym is like my main thing though. And there I do a lot of calisthenics and weight lifting.

How do you think being vegan impacts your training?

The one thing that I noticed right away when I went vegan, I was a runner at the time and I had a lot of joint pain in my ankles and just really all over my body. And I noticed quickly that I didn’t have that and I also recovered a lot faster and I could then go for longer runs sooner.

So that was sort of the first thing I noticed. And now I feel like it’s the same thing. I recover really quickly. My muscles hardly ever get sore, so I’m able to continue to train quite often. I don’t get sick very much. So, I think just, you know, a bunch of different reasons.

What’s a day of eating like for you?

Well, I wake up, usually I’ll have warm water or some lemon water, and then I’ll have a bit of toast and peanut butter or maybe just some fruit. Then usually after that I’ll go to the gym. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of coffee in between that, if I don’t have that jump in my step that I like to have.

And, then after that come home, I’ll have a smoothie or just some leftovers, and then I’ll have usually a small lunch, which could be something just like, oh, probably more, more leftovers, like a small stir fry or something like that. And then for dinner, basically the same, but such a wide variety of foods, whether it be, you know, pastas, like I said, stir fries, lots of tofu, tempeh, beans and lentils.

We absolutely love cooking a bunch of stuff in the Instant Pot. So that’s one of my favorite things to do, make stews and chilis and that in there.

What do you eat after a very heavy workout?

Usually a smoothie is what makes me feel the best. I’ve tried to switch it up and eat other things, but I know that smoothies always make me feel best. For a post-workout smoothie, I’ll have a few bananas in it, and then I will have a cup or so maybe two cups of frozen berries.

I’ll have some ginger. I will have some turmeric in there, a little black pepper to help with inflammation and recovery. And I’ll have a scoop of plant-based protein powder and then some sort of source of omega threes like usually either flax, chia or hemp seed in there. And then I try to get some greens in.

Cilantro is one of my favourite. I know people find that weird in a smoothie, but it’s one of my favorite things to have in there. But also, like parsley. And if I don’t have that, handful of kale or just any sort of mixed green.

What’s your favourite vegan protein?

So as far as food sourced protein, that would definitely be tofu or tempeh. I just never seem to get tired of those. Another one that I’ve been eating a lot lately is actually from a British Columbia-based company called Big Mountain Foods. And I’m not sponsored or anything by them, but I love this product that they have.

And it’s actually a soy free tofu, and I believe that they’re the first company to do this least in Canada and they’re making a tofu out of fava beans. And it’s amazing. It’s a really high source of protein and it’s very similar to tofu.

What’s your favourite hack to make cooking easier?

Definitely making large batches of the calorie rich sources of food at one time. If I’m going to have rice and you know, broccoli and maybe some tofu or tempeh for dinner, I will make a whole bunch of rice rather than just making enough for that meal. And then I have some for the next day. And the same thing goes if I’m cooking potatoes or sweet potatoes, squash, lentils. The Instant Pot has been a huge help for us. I don’t like to meal prep because I get tired of eating the exact same food over and over again.

I don’t like to see this thing sitting in the fridge that I know I’m going to eat like four days from now. But, I know if I have something that I can just take a scoop or something of, and then kind of create a meal around that, that’s always really nice for me. So that’s probably the best hack I have.

What advice would you give to a new vegan?

The biggest mistake that I see new vegans make is they just don’t eat enough calories. It’s because whole plant foods are just not as calorie dense as the animal foods.

So, what I usually recommend or I suggest to people is that they check out a total daily energy expenditure calculator. It’s a lot of words, but it’s a T D E E calculator and that takes in both your basal metabolic rate, but also the energy that you expend throughout the day, whether it be at work or at your activities.

You have to plug in like your age, your height and all that sort of thing, so it’s quite accurate. Then if your goal is to, you know, gain weight, obviously you want to be a hundred, 200 calories above that, if you want to lose weight, a hundred to 200 calories below, and then go into a program like Chronometer or MyFitnessPal and track your calories from there. You shouldn’t have to do it for long because you really can get a good idea of how much you’re eating after just a few days of doing it. But I think that’s a really good way.

And then also you can see sort of the nutrient breakdown to see if you’re getting all your nutrients. But I don’t track very closely myself. I just make sure that I eat enough foods from a variety of plant sources every day. Include a few higher protein sources like tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans. That sort of thing.

And yeah, that’s kind of my best advice.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Brighde Reed of World Vegan Travel and featured Derek Simnett of Simnett Nutrition.

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New study shows that plant-based is the future of schools

A new study released shows that one simple change in institutions can make a big impact. 

The study was conducted by Food for Climate League and in partnership with Better Food Foundation, Sodexo, and Boston College. It sought to determine the impact of serving plant-based meals as the “default” at Tulane University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Lehigh University.  

Making plant-based meals the default refers to individuals being served the plant-based meal automatically and having to ask for an animal-based option, instead of the other way around. This strategy helps nudge behavioural change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while still providing consumers choice and keeping consumer satisfaction. 

Key findings from the study: 

reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per day

The number of plant-based options served increased from 30% – 81.5%

With over 235 million university students worldwide who consume around 148 billion meals per year, these results show that a plant-based default can have a huge impact on achieving sustainability goals. 

Making plant-based dishes the default has been shown to be an effective strategy for widespread behaviour change across schools and also other institutions. Another study found that when plant-based is the default instead of part of a separate menu, individuals are 56% more likely to choose that option. For example, in New York City hospitals where plant-based is the default, over 50% of eligible patients are choosing the plant-based option. 

“Having plant-based foods isn’t a buzz or trend, it’s a need and demand that we deliver with creativity and flavour,”

said Brett Ladd, CEO for the Sodexo US Campus Division. 

Learn more about the study:

Interested in introducing or expanding plant-based menu options at your school, workplace, business or in your community? Learn more about supports we can provide and get in touch! 

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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. 

– ends –    

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903,   

Related links:

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Plant-based milks: weighing your options

Plant-based milks: weighing your options

Featured author: Emma Levez Larocque, Plant-Based RHN

Glasses and mugs of plant-based milk along with the nuts and seeds that they're made from in bowls on a white background.

The popularity of plant-based milks is on the rise. According to the Government of Canada, retail sales of milk alternative beverages were valued at US$336.9 million (approximately $450.94 million CDN) in 2020 and are forecasted to reach US$469.8 million (approximately $633.37 million CDN) in 2025. According to data from Mintel, 161 milk alternative beverages were launched in Canada between January 2018 and February 2021. That’s a lot of plant-based options to choose from!

Why choose plant-based milks?

People are choosing plant-based milks for a number of reasons. First, many varieties offer health benefits when compared to cow’s milk. Second, though there is variety in the environmental impact of plant-based milks, they are invariably more earth-friendly when compared with the massive footprint of dairy milk. And of course, since they’re produced from plants, plant-based milks eliminate the need to take food out of the mouths of babes, literally (something to ponder as Mother’s Day approaches).

A word about mothers and milk…

The dairy industry is arguably one of the cruelest forms of animal agriculture. Besides many instances of outright violence, abuse and neglect that have been documented at factory farms, the very nature of procuring milk requires that cows be kept pregnant, and that calves be taken away from their mothers soon after birth so they don’t drink the milk that is then sold to humans. Moving away from supporting an industry that necessitates the separation of mothers and babies is an act of compassion on Mother’s Day, and every day.

Which plant-based milk should you choose?

Most mainstream grocery stores carry a wide variety of plant-based milks—you may see almond, soy, oat, coconut, cashew, hemp, pea, hazelnut, rice, flax, blends, and others.

There’s an exciting world of plant-based milks to explore, but if you’re new to the concept, the options can be overwhelming. Most options are versatile and can be used as a direct swap for dairy milk in most recipes. In the end, preference largely comes down to personal taste and trying different types is the best way to figure out what you like. We’ve put together some points to consider as you’re getting started.

Let’s do a comparison:

This “at-a-glance” chart provides a comparison of five popular types of plant-based milk.

Download the comparison chart

Diving a little deeper…

Quick Tips

As you’re dipping your toes into the world of plant-based milks, we have a few tips that can help you avoid pitfalls:

1) Read your labels:
As you’re getting started, be sure to look at the label and nutrition information closely. There is plenty of variety, even among different types of milk. They may be sweetened or flavoured, fortified or contain various additives, for example. If you’re looking for a good all-purpose milk, it’s better to go with something unsweetened.  

2) Do a taste test:
Some milks have a sweet flavour even if they are unsweetened (and some versions that are labelled “original” still have sugar added). Be sure to taste any milk before adding it to a savoury dish to ensure you don’t end up with a sweeter-than-desired result.

3) Find your favourite:
If you try one type of plant-based milk and aren’t crazy about it, don’t give up! There are plenty of options to choose from and they are all subtly different—it’s just a matter of finding one that suits your tastes.

A couple of easy (and delicious!) recipes using plant-based milk to start you on your way:

With all the health, environmental and compassion-related benefits they offer, it’s clear that plant-based milks are here to stay. With so many choices in grocery stores and corner stores everywhere, it’s easier than ever to find one that suits your taste and make the switch. We’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on plant-based milks. Which ones are your favourites? How are you using plant-based milks in your life?

Don’t forget to subscribe to get free weekly plant-based recipes right in your inbox! You can unsubscribe at any time.

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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 #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,

Related links:

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 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,

Related links:

The University of British Columbia: Lessons in Creating a Plant-Forward Campus

The University of British Columbia: Lessons in Creating a Plant-Forward Campus

Featured author: Emma Levez Larocque, Plant-Based RHN

Please note while reading that UBC uses the term plant-based to describe food from plants as well as vegetarian foods such as dairy and eggs. This is different from Plant University’s definition that plant-based refers to food made from plants such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, and does not include animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs.

The time is right for institutions to take a culinary plunge into the plant-based world, following the lead of trailblazers like David Speight, Executive Chef and Culinary Director at the University of British Columbia.

In 2017 David and his team authored UBC’s Food Visions and Values, in which they outlined their commitment to advancing plant-based diets and reducing the amount of animal products they were offering to students in campus dining halls.

Taking the First Steps

David knew his staff needed more training when it came to plant-based cooking, so one of the first things they did was host Canada’s first ever Forward Food Conference with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This took place in 2017, and was a two-day hands-on workshop led by HSUS chefs. It included 10 UBC chefs, as well as 10 other chefs from the City of Vancouver, the City of Whistler and University of Victoria.

“For two days we cooked a whole bunch of wonderful meals with no animal proteins or dairy anywhere to be found,” David says. “It was a bit of an ‘Aha!’ moment for our chefs to understand how great plant-based food can be. There are so many products on the marketplace these days that really open up the door for more plant-based cooking. So that was the starting point.”

Setting Targets

Once the conference was over the UBC Food Services team started setting targets for plant-based offerings within the residence dining operations.

“When we started, we were around 20 percent plant-based—simply, I would say, to fulfil an obligation to cater to our vegan students,” David says. They needed to change the mindset, he explains, and the way they approached it was to make sure that they weren’t just offering substitutes for vegetarians and vegans.

“We decided we were going to make great-tasting plant-based dishes, and not just for vegans, but for everybody. So, we set a target of 40 per cent by 2019, and we achieved that.”

This year they have a new target of 60 percent plant-based offerings, including 30 percent vegan.

“We achieved that on our menu grid by making sure that each station has two different menu choices— one that contains animal proteins, and one that is vegetarian and/or vegan. In addition, one of our stations in each location is a vegetarian station, and that one has exclusively vegetarian and vegan options. This year, we’ve also looked more closely at the vegan aspect of that ratio because we were challenged last year because there weren’t enough vegan dishes included. So, this year we’ve made a commitment to having 50 per cent of that 60 per cent—in total 30 per cent of our overall offerings—to be fully vegan.”

Inspiring Plant-Based Choices

In the past year David and his team have been working with Health Canada on strategies to encourage students to make more plant-based selections. It has been a very useful process, he says.

“Some things we already knew, but some things were good learning, like highlighting the plant-based option right at the top of the menu.”

They also moved away from descriptors using the words vegan and vegetarian and now use icons instead. They did this so people who don’t identify as vegan or vegetarian don’t feel that these dishes are not for them.

“It’s just a great tasting dish and it just happens to be vegan…we stepped away from calling things, for example, Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie and we might call it Moroccan Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie instead.”

Another change they made was how they were approaching recipe development.

“When we first started, if we had Butter Chicken on the menu, our chefs would maybe do a Tofu Butter Chicken, but I tried to change that mindset. I wanted these dishes to be great dishes that stand on their own, not just alternatives to the meat-based dishes.”

The Impetus Behind the Action

“We’ve always been challenged by students,” David says. But there are two main reasons UBC Food Services started, and continue, on this plant-based journey.

“One is to satisfy the demands of people who choose a vegan diet, but mainly it’s about the planet and public health. We’ve got a really strong sustainability department at UBC, and we’ve worked closely with them on some of these targets. I firmly believe that this is the future of food, and that we have to change the way we’re eating if we want to have sustainable diets for the future.

“The other thing is that from a chef’s perspective, [it’s easier for us to] buy high quality plants and vegetables than high quality meat. Buying organic grass-fed meat products is just not going to work with our budgets, but I can afford to buy organic produce…so from that perspective, we’re actually providing a better-quality meal with our plant-based dishes.”

But What About the Protein?

All this progress doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been any pushback. But as part of UBC, they have some powerful academic backup.

“We have partnered with the School of Population and Public Health on our campus to ensure that we’re what we’re saying is vetted by the academic portion of our university,” David says. “We’ve done workshops with them, and we have two dieticians on staff for UBC Food Services who can explain the nutritional benefits. We do get a lot of student athletes who claim that they need ‘X’ amount of protein, and they worry that it’s not coming from the plant-based dishes, so our dietitians can work with them and show them how they can achieve what they’re looking for, and still reduce the amount of meat that they eat.”

For the first time this year, David says, they have had student feedback saying they need more meat on the menu.

“I take that as a compliment because we’ve heard for years that there’s not enough plant-based menu items. And we’ve never before heard a complaint from a student looking for more meat. That tells me that the shift we’re making is real. I don’t want anybody to feel like they’re not getting what they need, but I’m much happier to hear somebody looking for more meat than the consistent, ‘There’s not enough vegan dishes on our menu.’ The tide is turning a little bit.”

Words of Advice

Since they started on this path in 2017 the learning and tweaking has been constant, David says. But the sharing of lessons, recipes and strategies has been a key part of their success in moving their plant-strong focus forward.

“One of the great things about working in the university environment is the culture sharing across universities. Unlike restaurants or the private sector, we’re not competing for the same guests. We all have our own captive campuses with our own students, so there is an incredible amount of sharing.

The first piece of advice he would offer to other institutions wanting to make these types of changes would be reach out and talk to somebody who’s already doing it, he says.

“We, as UBC, offer that all the time. The way I look at it is, we’re making great change here in Vancouver, and in Kelowna as well. But wouldn’t it be great if [universities in other provinces] also did the same thing —now we’re really scaling up!

“The other thing I would say is don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We certainly did, and we’re still learning. A prime example is we opened a brand new dining hall in 2016. And we were so proud because right in the central point we had a station that we called Vegetarian Kitchen. It’s in wrought iron—it would take construction to literally change the name of that station. [It didn’t take long before] we realized that we probably should have called it something else. But we’re learning and it’s okay to make mistakes.

Vegetarian Kitchen station in UBC’s dining hall

“And finally, reach out to organizations like the Vancouver Humane Society, or get involved in something like the Forward Food Conference…That was a great opportunity for us as a starting point to educate ourselves and learn that, indeed, we can make great-tasting dishes without using animal proteins. Then set some targets. You’ve got to start somewhere so baseline where you are now and set targets for next year and the year after that. Start small and challenge yourself to continue to increase those targets.”

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This is the future of food, David says. He sees the desire for it among students, and anticipates that the demand for plant-based offerings is only going to continue to grow.

“We also work with UBC Sustainability and they are challenging us to be 80 per cent plant based by 2025. I think personally that that is a realistic target, and something we should strive for…but at this point that’s an ongoing conversation.”

What the Students Want

“We continue to offer more, and they continue to ask for more, so my advice to other institutions is don’t be scared to make the plunge and go for it. The demographics of students are changing, and they’re challenging us to do more and more every year. It is the direction that I think the students would love to see all Canadian university campuses go towards.”

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