Adapting meals to be plant-based episode 2

Adapting meals to be plant-based episode 2

Featured Author: Alicia MacGregor

Hi everyone, my name is Alicia, and I’m excited to be here with you today to share my passion for healthy and delicious plant-based meals.

Today for the Vancouver Humane Society’s Plant University platform, we’re making a Pastel De Choclo, and it’s a traditional Chilean dish that my mom used to make when I was little and it’s very similar to a shepherd’s pie, where there’s a savoury base and instead of a mashed potato topping, it’s actually a corn meal kind of prepared topping.

Today we’re going to be using mushrooms and onions for the base. She used to actually put raisins in it, so I have eliminated the raisins all together because I don’t like them.

When I did the full switch to a plant-based diet, I really noticed a big improvement in my skin. I used to get a lot of acne, and I realized that my skin cleared up and my complexion became a lot nicer. So when you’re making a switch from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet, you’ll notice that it’s actually quite simple to simply replace the meat option for vegetables. And you simply need to choose the vegetables with complex carbs, high in protein, high in fiber. It can actually create really original flavour profiles for you that can be even better than the original recipes were.

If you’re interested in learning more after watching this video, you can find great resources on VHS’s Plant University platform and subscribe to get involved with VHS’s work to help animals, people, and the planet.

So let’s get started.

Pastel de Choclo

Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 acorn squash

Corn topper

  • 5 cups corn (6 corn on the cob or 1 bag frozen corn)
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 bunch basil (10 leaves)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • crushed walnuts

Veggie Bottom

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 small/medium onions, diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 can lentils (or equivalent soaked lentils)
  • 2.5 cups mushrooms, diced small
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • black or kalamata olives, sliced
  • cayenne (optional)

Instructions
 

Acorn squash

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Slice acorn squash in half and remove the seeds and pulp from the inside.
  • Slice squash in 1/4 thick rounds.
  • Lay squash on baking sheet and baste with olive oil and cayenne pepper if using.
  • Bake until squash is soft and lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.

Veggie Bottom

  • Heat a pan over medium heat and sauté half an onion.
  • Once onion is translucent, add the diced mushrooms, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar. Cook until mushrooms have reduced.
  • Once the mushrooms have reduced, add the rosemary leaves and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 4 minutes and then add the lentils (if canned rinse and drain fully) and bouillon cube dissolved in 3/4 cup water (or if using soaked/drained lentils, 1 1/4 cup water).
  • Stir in the rest of the onion, ground cumin, paprika, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Cook until lentils are fully soft and the mixture is moist.
  • Turn off heat.

Corn Topper

  • If using fresh corn, boil corn cobs until corn is al dente (not fully soft). Let the corn cool and then use a knife to slice all corn from husk.
  • In a large pot heat and cook corn until soft. Add coconut milk, basil, salt, pepper, paprika, and continue to cook, occasionally stirring for approximately 10 more minutes.
  • Blend the corn mixture with a hand mixer on pulse. Make sure to leave some chunkier parts.
  • Add cornmeal and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Consistency should be firm.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Cool and then serve. It will thicken slightly when cool.

Assembly

  • In baking dish, layer the veggie bottom as a base, filling the bottom of the dish.
  • Add a layer of acorn squash on top of the veggie mixture and olives sprinkled over the top.
  • Cover the squash layer with the corn topper.
  • Sprinkle crushed walnuts over top.
  • Bake until slightly brown.

Notes

Recipe Cost Breakdown

Ingredients
Quantity
Measure
Cost
Corn
5
Cups
3.49
Cornmeal
2
Tbsp
0.14
Basil
1
Bunch
3.29
Salt
2
Tsp
0.01
Pepper
1
Tsp
0.11
Paprika
1
Tsp
0.06
Coconut oil
1.5
Tbsp
0.69
Olive oil
2
Tsp
0.16
Onions
3
Each
3.90
Ground cumin
1
Tsp
0.18
Salt
1
Tsp
0.006
Pepper
2
Tsp
0.22
Lentils
1
Can
1.79
Mushrooms
2.5
Cups
3.49
Fresh Rosemary
1
Sprig
0.15
Apple Cider Vinegar
1
Tbsp
0.02
Balsamic Vinegar
2
Tbsp
0.30
Vegetable bouillon cube
1
Each
0.75
Paprika
1
tbsp
0.17
Total
 
 
18.93
Cost per serving
 
 
6.31
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

And there you have it. A delicious and healthy pastel de choclo. It’s filling and full of flavour and is packed with complex carbohydrates.

If this is the first time you’ve seen a plant-based recipe being made, you can check out some more options on the Vancouver Humane Society’s Plant University platform.

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Chat with a vegan: Stephanie Redcross West, business coach and marketing strategist

Chat with a vegan: Stephanie Redcross West, business coach and marketing strategist

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, Emma Levez Larocque sat down and spoke with Stephanie Redcross West. Stephanie is a business coach and marketing strategist based in Orlando, Florida. We hope you find her experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Stephanie 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.

Note: If you’re listening to the video using earbuds or headphones, the interview audio only works on the left side.


Why did you go vegan?

When I think about why I went vegan, a lot of my initial foundation was around health. When I was in my senior year in college, I got E. coli. I’d been traveling around and ended up getting in contact with my food. Through that process, it helped me start to think about what I eat; think about how food and how diseases transmitted. Through that discovery, I started thinking about and learning about more of the chronic diseases that are often linked to the foods that we eat.

As I started to make a better connection between the food I eat and my health, I started to realize that getting on this vegan path was an option. And as I spent more and more time with the vegan community, I started to understand not only the animal rights perspective of it, but understanding how I needed to bring more compassion to what I do. I became much more of a vegan that understood that yes, health might’ve brought me into it, but the reason I stay is for the animals and for the environment.

What advice would you give for making a transition easier?

When you first transition, you should find things that you like. I know a lot of times when people are thinking about going vegan, often they’re trying to be the healthiest, they’re trying to sometimes get the award for putting in all the goodness, you know, chia seeds, flax seeds, all these things that you hear about superfoods and all of that.

But if you haven’t been eating those things, it can be hard to transition to them because your palate hasn’t developed. You haven’t developed a relationship with those foods. What I often tell people is to take the foods that you already have an existing relationship, often a positive relationship with, and transition those and make them and veganize them.

So if you have a favourite cake that you make normally for people for their birthday, or someone made it for you for your birthday, veganize that. If you have a favourite dish from your childhood, veganize that, especially if it brings about a happy memory.

What happens is, you’re not only going vegan, but you’re connecting a positive experience with those dishes and those items, and therefore you start to build those memories that really many of us unconsciously do through our lives as kids and so forth. And I think by creating that new pattern, it will not only help you bring some enjoyment to the transition, because it can be hard, any type of change can be a little bit hard, but it can also build an experience around it that can be highly positive.

What does ‘veganizing’ something mean?

 Veganizing, at least for me, is often about substitutions.

It’s not necessarily what was in that original recipe is the only way to make it. When I was trying to veganize things, I would pick up a recipe that I knew and loved and looked for a substitute. So if it was calling for milk, I would look for a plant-based milk to substitute it with.

This day and age, there’s a lot of one-to-one substitutes for you to take something that was maybe an animal derivative or item and substitute it for plant-based items.

What is Vegan Mainstream?

A coaching and one-on-one business support tool and system for anyone who has or is planning to start a vegan business.

What we do is we help either teach you the marketing through like courses, or through group coaching. Or what we can do is we can work with you one-on-one to help you set up a strategy to help you understand all the marketing tools out there that are available to you at your fingertips and how to ultimately build, grow or scale a successful vegan business.

What changes have you seen in the marketplace?

 I started my business back in 2009. Not only has the world changed, the vegan world has changed. I think the natural evolution of what many of us hoped for, where veganism is a topic of conversation in mainstream media and mainstream discussions.

Even as we’re going through grocery stores, even as you’re going to restaurants, you’re starting to see options on the menu. It’s so exciting to see the increase in demand for vegan products and services out there, not just from the vegan community, but from a larger group of people; maybe people who aren’t ready to buy a vegan t-shirt, but those individuals are showing up consistently and buying and purchasing these products and getting a benefit from it. So it’s been kind of amazing to see the expansion of the market.

However, there’s still so much work to be done. I think we would all hope there was a larger portion of the population that identified as vegan, but I do feel like the world has really shifted and the discussion is less of a “them versus us”. I really feel like more and more people feel like they can step their toes into veganism.

I believe opening up to discussions about things being plant-based has allowed even more people to join in on that discussion, participate, and individuals almost feel like they could be at home in the vegan community now, where maybe five and ten years ago, that wasn’t the case.

Why are vegan businesses so important?

I think vegan businesses are so important and ultimately can change the world is because of the ethics that we bring often to these businesses. And when I say ethics, I don’t want to make it sound like it’s a moral superiority or anything like that. What I mean is often when vegans are in business, they’re looking at a larger picture. They’re sometimes rewriting the way that we see success in a business where traditionally many businesses were just looking at their bottom line.

You’ll see for many vegan businesses, they’re concerned about their footprint. So therefore they’re trying to make sure that every product or service or anyone that they engage in in the entire. You know, supply chain that they can reduce their footprint, ensure that their products and services are more sustainable.

We want to be more compassionate. We want to be individuals that are aware of the impact that we make. Now, we can’t be all perfect. We can’t all do everything without making some mistakes. So I don’t want people to feel like they have to live up to this perfect picture. But what I feel that vegan businesses often do, and this is not just on the product side, but this is on the service side as well, is that we will often bring a different perspective to the party on how we do discussions, how we negotiate, you know, how we are looking to build solutions that benefit all as opposed to winner takes all.

What was your favourite food when you first transitioned?

When I first transitioned, I was much more of a comfort food person. I was always looking for like vegan pizza, that kind of thing. Also, when I first transitioned, I spent a good amount of time eating a lot more ethnic dishes.

Over time, what I’ve done is mash those two ideas together. While I still eat a little bit of vegan junk food, a lot of what I do is I like building bowls. I think the reason I like comfort foods is because they have high taste and comfort. And then, I’d like a lot of ethnic foods because of the flavor that I really love to, like, build a rice bowl and be able to say, okay, I have a rice bowl here with some pickled onions.

I have some seasoned up tofu, maybe it’s Thai seasoned tofu, you know, I may have some cut up cucumbers in there. I might throw some sprouts on top. I may sauté some mushrooms and onions. And then that way I’m able to kind of get multiple layers of flavor and crunch.

And that’s kind of my way of taking a lot of the different elements and styles and flavours that I ate when I first went vegan.

What vegan business are you loving right now?

As far as the landscape of products and services, there’s much more variety out there. When I first went vegan, it was kind of like you had a vegan burger, you had a vegan makeup or a vegan deodorant and everyone was mostly using the same one. It didn’t really cater to the variety of individuals who are in the vegan movement. And what’s so exciting to me today is how much more diversity is in products and services, how there’s more and more products that are available.

So someone like myself, you know, when I’m looking for makeup, it’s hard to have one-size-fits-all makeup. I love that you have brands like The Lip Bar out there that is offering makeup. And then for someone like myself with African American skin, it’s like, all right, I got some foundation that matches my skin like that really makes you feel represented in the movement.

This concept of inclusivity in products is really key, but some people say it, but they don’t necessarily do it.

It inspires me to be more comfortable of being me, of showing up as me in the world and feeling comfortable more and more in my own skin as I see more and more people being comfortable in their skin and more and more brands celebrating it.

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

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Festive favourites: Holiday recipes from the staff of the Vancouver Humane Society

Festive favourites: Holiday recipes from the staff of the Vancouver Humane Society

Want to add more plant-based foods into your holidays but not sure where to start? Or maybe you want some new recipes to add to your yearly traditions? The staff of the Vancouver Humane Society share our favourite plant-based winter and holiday recipes for those chilly days and festive feasts. We hope you enjoy, and from our team to yours, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Classic tomato soup:

Chantelle: After scouring the internet for the best tomato soup recipes, I finally made my own version that is bursting with flavour and totally vegan-friendly! I love putting this recipe together on a weeknight and then using the leftovers to have with plant-based grilled cheeses for a couple days. For the grilled cheese, I prefer either Daiya cheddar flavour slices or Chao tomato cayenne. It’s the perfect recipe to warm me up on those cold winter nights.

Sugar cookies:

Emily: Sugar cookies are a staple of the holiday season for me. This sweet little treat is a real crowd pleaser!

Anamalai hot chocolate:

Ishtmeet: The holidays look different for my family every year, with us sometimes being on opposite sides of the world. One thing that has remained constant throughout the years is our Home Alone movie marathon (only the first two because we all know those are the best ones) accompanied by hot chocolate. What began as a simple premade mix when I was younger has evolved into a pursuit for making the most delicious, leveled up version of a childhood classic. Good quality cacao powder makes all the difference in this hot chocolate recipe, with some spices for added warmth and a flavour boost. We love to use oat milk and top it off with coco whip (from the can, of course) or vegan mini marshmallows.

Pro-tip: to keep the coco whip from melting right away, add a layer of vegan mini marshmallows first! 

Trifle:

Katrina: Growing up my mom would make a trifle on Christmas Eve that we would eat for breakfast on Christmas morning to kick off a sugar-fueled day of fun! This vegan version from School Night Vegan is a very similar to what my mom would make – festive and delicious!

Tourtière with Mushroom Gravy:

Brooklyn: I’ve made this tourtière for the past several years on Réveillon (December 24th) and serve with a generous portion of my spouse’s gravy recipe. The gravy works beautifully and tastes incredible.

Homemade vegan Baileys:

Sareeta: One of my favourite recipes is this homemade vegan Baileys, made with Jameson Irish whiskey. It’s delicious in coffee and hot chocolate. I drank it a lot during the height of the pandemic!

Chocolate peanut butter balls:

Amy: These chocolate peanut butter are a good replacement for peanut butter cups. They’re yummy and easy to make!

Finnish Pulla:

Heather: I love this vegan Pulla recipe from Philosophy and Cake. My background is partly Finnish so it was a tradition in my family to eat Pulla, which is a Finnish cardamom braided bread, around the holiday season each year. It was something I greatly missed after I went vegan, so I was extremely excited to find a recipe to make it myself. This recipe doesn’t disappoint and tastes just like the non-plant-based version. It uses mashed banana to bind and I loved trying to braid bread since I’d never done that before.  I’ve only made it once since it does take some time to make, but if you want a fun baking challenge (or maybe you’re already a baking pro and this is a walk in a park for you!) and want to try a traditional bread that’s soft and sweet, try it out.

Looking for more delicious plant-based recipes?

Go to our recipe library!

Check out PlantUniversity’s original recipe library for more delicious plant-based meal and snack ideas.

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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Beginner’s Guide to Plant-Based Eating

Beginner’s guide to plant-based eating

Featured Author: Emma Levez Larocque, Plant-Based R.H.N

Have you been hearing about plant-based diets and wondering what all the fuss is about?  

In this video we’re going to explore the topic of plant-based eating—what does the term actually mean? Is this way of eating truly healthy and sustainable? And why are some people shifting their diets to eat more plant-based foods?  

If you decide a plant-based shift is something you’d like to try out as you watch this video, the second half of this video shares some great tips on easy ways to get started! You can also download the beginner’s guide to plant-based eating:

Download the plant-based beginner’s guide

What is plant-based?

Before we dive in, let’s define our terms. It may seem obvious, but “plant-based” refers to foods that come from plants—like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, and does not include animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs. 

Popularity of plant-based

Have you noticed that there are more plant-based products at your local grocery store than there used to be? According to a 2021 report by Bloomberg Intelligence the interest in plant-based foods is increasing. Their research projects that plant-based products will make up to 7.7% of the global protein market—a value of over $162 billion—by 2030! 

Why plant-based?

What’s causing this shift? Why are plant-based foods becoming so popular? 

For the planet

Many people have started changing what they eat because they’re concerned about the environment, but does a dietary shift really make a difference? Let’s take a look at what the data says.  

Our World in Data published research about the Environmental Impacts of Food Production. They showed that one quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions result from food and agriculture, and the main contributors to food’s emissions are livestock and fisheries, crop production, land use and supply chains, in that order. 

When comparing the carbon footprint of protein-rich foods, which account for the bulk of our dietary emissions, they found that the impact of plant-based foods is significantly lower than meat and dairy, across the board. Beef, lamb, farmed shrimp and cheese were the worst offenders, while plant-based protein sources, like tofu, beans, peas and nuts, had the lowest carbon footprint. 

The researchers on this project concluded that:

“Tackling what we eat, and how we produce our food, plays a key role in tackling climate change, reducing water stress and pollution, restoring lands back to forests or grasslands, and protecting the world’s wildlife.”
Our World in Data

What do you think? Would you be willing to shift your diet if it helps keep the planet healthier? 

For our health

But there are some other things to consider. Even if it’s good for the planet, is this a healthy way for humans to eat? Sometimes it can be mind-bending trying to make sense of all the information about constantly changing food trends! 

So let’s take it back to the basics. One thing a majority of doctors and scientists agree on is that eating more veggies is a good idea. But is it safe to focus your diet around plant-based foods, or eat plant-based foods exclusively?  

A growing number of studies are showing that a well-balanced plant-based diet is not just safe but can have significant health benefits.  

According to the Physician’s Guide on Plant-Based Diets, a peer-reviewed article by Registered Dietitian Julieanna Hever, plant-based diets have been associated with lowering deaths from heart disease, supporting healthy weight management, reducing medication needs, lowering the risk for most chronic diseases and more.  

And one thing we think is interesting is that this isn’t anything new! In five areas of the world now famously known as the Blue Zones you can find the longest-lived, healthiest people in the world. National Geographic and a team of researchers studying these areas found that one of the common behaviours of people living in the Blue Zones was a focus on unprocessed plant-based foods.  

As plant-based diets become more popular and are being linked with health benefits, more research is being conducted. As a result, a growing body of evidence is connecting meat consumption with a higher risk of common chronic health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some types of cancer.  

And Health Canada has assessed this information. The new Canada Food Guide, revised in 2019, recommends that Canadians shift to eating plant foods – including plant proteins – more often

For the animals

Another consideration as you are thinking about the pros and cons of a plant-based diet is the animals. 

According to government-recorded statistics more than 825 million animals were raised and killed for food in Canada in 2021. We know that farmed animals like pigs, cows and chickens are as intelligent and sentient as the cats and dogs we share our homes with, but our society treats them very differently. Most farmed animals are raised in factory farms in cramped, poor conditions none of us would wish on our pets – so why do we look the other way when it comes to farmed animals? 


We’d love to hear what you think about all of this. If you’re considering shifting to a plant-based diet, what is your main motivation? Or maybe you have more questions? Tell us in the comments below. 

Learn more:

For the animals

For the planet

For our health

Tips for getting started

If you’re ready to start making a plant-based shift, you might be surprised at how easy it can be to get started. 

1. Start small and stack up successes

First up, we recommend starting small and stacking up successes. 

Moving toward a plant-based diet can be easier if it’s a gradual process. For example, you could start with one plant-based meal a day – like oatmeal loaded with berries, a veggie scramble, or avocado toast for breakfast. When you have that down, add in a second meal – like a bean burrito, a veggie soup or a great big meal salad for lunch. Then go on to dinner. This approach gives you time to try out some new foods and recipes and build the habits that lead to lasting change. 

2. Take a look at what you’re eating now

Another tip as you’re getting started is to take a look at what you’re eating now. You might find that there are already plant-based foods you are enjoying. Do you like falafel and hummus? Plant-based! Chana masala? Pasta with marinara sauce? Lentil stew? All plant-based! It’s easy to find recipes and products that can help you make plant-based versions of your favourite dishes. If you sign up for Plant University’s newsletter you’ll get weekly recipe ideas automatically delivered to your inbox.  

3. Take a cooking class or program

If eating more plant-based foods is a big switch for you and your family, you might consider taking a local cooking class or an online cooking program like Rouxbe. This is a good way to sample new foods and get inspired to start making beautiful and delicious plant-based dishes. Many people are surprised to find that it’s easy to get inspired by the colours and vibrancy of fresh plant foods!   

4. Arm yourself with knowledge

Our final tip is about arming yourself with knowledge.  

As you’re transitioning, take some time to do your research and make sure you’re providing your body with the fuel it needs to take full advantage of all the benefits of a plant-based way of eating. This will ensure that you can thrive on your plant-based journey. PlantUniversity.ca is a great place to get started. The site has a great selection of resources, including recipes, videos, blog posts, a shopping and eating guide, and a 21-day challenge to help you get started in creating healthy plant-based habits.  

Are you in the process of transitioning to a plant-based diet? We’d love to hear what’s working for you! 

Subscribe to stay updated
Download the plant-based beginner’s guide

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Farmed animal welfare issues in Canada part 3 – actions to protect farmed animals

Farmed animal welfare issues in Canada part 3 – actions to protect farmed animals

Today, for the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform, we’re going to explore the issue of farmed animal welfare in Canada. Animal welfare refers to an animal’s well-being, both physically and mentally.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll look at actions we can take to help protect farmed animals and create change.

As individuals, every time we sit down to eat, we have an opportunity to stand up for a kinder world for animals.

If we have the access and ability, removing animal products from our lives and opting for a plant-based lifestyle is one of the most powerful actions we can take at the individual level. When we eat, every meal makes a difference. As we lead by example, we can inspire others to do the same, which amplifies our impact for animals!

But let’s not stop there, it’s incredibly important that we also advocate for system-wide changes to help animals.

We can do this by supporting changes to laws and policies that impact animals. These changes can make a difference for those animals who are stuck in our current animal agriculture system right now. We can also advocate for food system change that’s focused on moving away from our broken food system and toward one that is kinder, healthier and more sustainable.

One of the ways we can do this is to speak up against ag-gag legislation, which aims to make it an offence to document conditions in the animal agriculture industry.Instead of passing ag-gag laws, our government could be working to address the troubling conditions on farms, during transport and at slaughterhouses.

We can also advocate for stronger laws and enforcement to better protect animals and to close existing loopholes that make it difficult to prosecute animal cruelty.

How do we get started? We can call for our government at all levels to take responsibility for protecting animal welfare. We can’t leave it up to industry and the private sector to make the rules. Polling in recent years has reflected widespread public support for stronger government legislation to protect animals. We need dedicated government departments focused solely on animal welfare and, at the federal level, national animal welfare legislation. Science shows that animals are suffering in situations that are currently legal and governments should take an evidence-based approach to policy that aligns with this science. 

Finally, we can advocate for shifting government subsidies and incentives to support overall food system change. Current government subsidies, believed to be in the billions of dollars, enable the industrial animal agriculture system in Canada to continue, business as usual, despite the industry’s contributions to animal suffering and climate and health issues.

For example, animal agriculture businesses in Canada received more than $1.9 billion in subsidies in 2019.

But it doesn’t have to be this way and governments can shift these subsidies and incentives to support a move away from animal-based agriculture towards plant-based food systems. They can encourage innovation in plant-based agriculture and incentivize farmers to transition to plant-based farming.

These are a few examples of how we can take action individually to help animals and to support system-wide change. If this is the first video that you watched, you can check out Part 1 and 2 in the links below.

Check out the resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform, including a plant-based recipe library; a video series featuring experts in making the world better for farmed animals through diet, advocacy, and more; and a 21-day plant-based challenge to help you along in your journey. Even shifting just one meal a day or week to plant-based can help make a difference.

At PlantUniversity, you will also find more advocacy tips and tools, including ideas for supporting improved public access to plant-based meals in schools, hospitals and other public institutions; to tips for writing opinion pieces and letters to the editor; or strategies for engaging with your elected representatives and decision-makers.

If you found this video helpful, please consider sharing it.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform and email list to stay up to date on new content and to help animals!


Learn more:

Learn ABOUT ANIMAL SENTIENCE AND INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

Farmed Animal Welfare Issues in Canada – Part 1

Learn more about who farmed animals are and how they are treated in the animal agriculture system.

Read more

LEARN HOW TO TAKE ACTION FOR FARMED ANIMALS

Farmed Animal Welfare Issues in Canada – Part 2

Learn about the laws in Canada and how they fall short, as well as how they can be improved.

Read more

Farmed animal welfare issues in Canada part 2 – farmed animal protection laws in Canada

Farmed animal welfare issues in Canada part 2 – farmed animal protection laws in Canada

Today, for the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform, we’re going to explore the issue of farmed animal welfare in Canada. Animal welfare refers to an animal’s well-being, both physically and mentally.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll explore the laws that relate to farmed animal welfare in Canada and how they fall short, as well as how they can be improved.

Every level of government in Canada including the federal, provincial and municipal, is responsible for the protection of animal welfare. Unfortunately, existing laws used to prosecute animal cruelty are not comprehensive and there are many gaps and exemptions. The laws are difficult to enforce and they still permit certain farming practices to be exempt from the law because they are seen as quote “reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management”.

These gaps and exemptions mean that hundreds of thousands of animals continue to suffer on farms, during transport journeys and at slaughterhouses. This leads us to the question of who decides what “reasonable and generally acceptable practices of animal management” are to begin with?

In Canada, this has largely been left up to the animal agriculture industry itself to decide. The National Farm Animal Care Council is a largely industry-dominated organization which creates standards of practice for the care of animals on farms. These standards, called codes of practice, have become guidelines for what is considered acceptable practice in the industry. However, they aren’t legally required or proactively enforced by government.

The current codes still allow for concerning practices to be considered reasonable and acceptable, such as the use of electric prods to move animals; painful procedures without the use of pain control and the stressful separation of mothers and their babies at ages much younger than would occur naturally. For example, the dairy code of practice recommends separating mothers and calves shortly after birth.

The codes of practice also allow animals to be deprived from engaging in behaviours that are instinctual for them, such as pigs not being given materials to build nests with. This can lead to frustration and self-harm, such as chewing on bars and breaking teeth.

As animal farming has industrialized over the years, animals are increasingly being kept indoors and out of public sight.

Branding and labeling on products in grocery stores make it appear as though farmed animals are living happy, idyllic lives, but this couldn’t be further from the reality.

In recent years, numerous undercover investigations in Canada have shed light on the hidden reality of today’s industrialized animal agriculture system. But, instead of addressing the problem of how farmed animals are kept and mistreated, governments are increasingly passing what are known as “ag-gag” laws, which make it an offence to document conditions in the animal agriculture industry. These ag-gag laws are intended to deter whistleblowers and prevent undercover footage from surfacing.

This further undermines transparency, accountability and public trust. When these issues come up, the animal agriculture industry and the government are more concerned with making the public more trusting, than with changing the conditions that farmed animals experience.

Now that you’ve learned more about the laws that relate to farmed animal welfare in Canada and the gaps and flaws that exist, we encourage you to watch part 3 of this series, which will go into detail about the actions that we can take to help protect farmed animals and create change.

If you found this video helpful, please consider sharing it.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform and email list to stay up to date on new content and to help animals!


Learn more:

Learn ABOUT ANIMAL SENTIENCE AND INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

Farmed Animal Welfare Issues in Canada – Part 1

Learn more about who farmed animals are and how they are treated in the animal agriculture system.

Read more

LEARN HOW TO TAKE ACTION FOR FARMED ANIMALS

Farmed Animal Welfare Issues in Canada – Part 3

In part 3, we look at actions we can take to help protect farmed animals and create change.

Read more

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

Farmed animal welfare issues in Canada part 1 – who they are & and how they’re treated

Farmed animal welfare issues in Canada – who they are & and how they’re treated

Today, for the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform, we’re going to explore the issue of farmed animal welfare in Canada. Animal welfare refers to an animal’s well-being, both physically and mentally.

In Part 1 of this series, we’ll learn more about who farmed animals are and how they are treated in the animal agriculture system in Canada. This topic may be upsetting, so please consider taking some time for self care after viewing.

More than 830 million land animals are raised and killed for food in Canada every year. The sheer number of farmed animals raised, along with the standard harmful practices they face on a daily basis, makes the treatment of farmed animals one of the most pressing topics to learn about and work towards improving animal protection.

This number of animals is only an estimate as it doesn’t include aquatic animals, who are typically measured by weight instead of individual lives. It also doesn’t include those who are treated as by-products, such as male chicks who are deemed to be of no value to the egg industry because they don’t lay eggs, and as a result are killed soon after hatching.

But who are these animals? Most people don’t have a lot of experience around farmed animals, but the truth is they are very similar to the dogs, cats and other companion animals we open our homes and hearts to.

They have distinct, individual personalities and a variety of interests. They can form strong bonds with other animals and are curious and enjoy exploring the world around them.

For example, chickens are intelligent animals, with research showing they can understand basic math and can count. They’re also capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions and can show empathy for others. 

Cows are socially complex animals. Studies show they rely on each other for comfort and have strong social bonds, especially between mothers and their calves. Mothers will protect their young in unfamiliar situations and both will show signs of significant distress when separated from each other.

Pigs are sensitive animals, who are aware of the emotions of other individuals. They have an excellent memory and can anticipate future experiences. They’re also incredibly playful and can learn games quickly and engage in play behaviours similar to what we see in dogs. 

Farmed animals are thinking, feeling beings. But the industrialized animal agriculture system treats them like products.

Today, the animal agriculture industry is characterized by large numbers of animals who are kept in cramped and barren conditions, unable to behave naturally or socially.

For example, egg farms often have tens of thousands of animals. The vast majority of egg farms in Canada keep hens confined to cages where each hen typically has less space than a standard sheet of paper. Unsurprisingly, this leads to significant frustration among the hens, who act out by plucking at each other’s feathers.

In addition to the unnatural living conditions, farmed animals will also experience stressful and painful practices that are considered standard on farms, such as de-beaking, or the removal of part of a hen’s beak to try and prevent them from pecking at and injuring each other. Farmed animals often experience rough handling and the use of electric prods to make them move. They may also be subject to inhumane methods of euthanasia, should they become injured or ill while on the farm.

Transport journeys are also very stressful for farmed animals. Loading of animals onto transport trucks often leads to injuries, including broken limbs.

For example, approximately 20% of caged egg-laying hens experience broken bones during the loading and transport process. The length of transport journeys is also a concern, with some species being transported for up to 72 hours straight, without food, water or rest, which is much longer than what’s permitted in Europe or the U.S.

Farmed animals are often transported in all weather conditions, without adequate protection from extreme heat and cold. Reports of pigs seen suffering from dehydration, on transport trucks during the summer heat, has sadly become all too common across Canada.

By the government’s own estimates, 14 million animals suffer injuries and 1.6 million die during transport journeys every year.

It goes without saying that slaughter is inherently stressful for farmed animals – from frightening sights, smells and sounds; to rough handling and fast-paced slaughter lines that put both animals, and workers at risk of injury. This creates the potential for inhumane slaughter practices. There are many animal welfare concerns at this stage.

For example, chickens are most commonly slaughtered by being hung upside down by their legs on an assembly line, before being moved through an electrically-charged bath intended to stun them and render them unconscious before being killed. This fast-paced process, during which upwards of 175 or more birds are slaughtered per minute, can easily lead to failed stunning and significant suffering as a result.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about who farmed animals really are and how they are treated under today’s animal agriculture system, we encourage you to take good care of yourself as you process all of this information. When you’re ready, you can check out part 2 of this series, which will explore the laws related to farmed animal welfare in Canada. Part 3 will outline actions we can take to help protect farmed animals and create change. 

If you found this video helpful, please consider sharing it.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity platform and email list to stay up to date on new content and to help animals!


Learn more:

Learn ABOUT animal welfare laws in canada

Farmed Animal Welfare Issues in Canada – Part 2

Learn about the laws in Canada and how they fall short, as well as how they can be improved.

Read more

LEARN HOW TO TAKE ACTION FOR farmed ANIMALS

Farmed Animal Welfare Issues in Canada – Part 3

Learn about actions we can take to help protect farmed animals and create change.

Read more

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 plantuniversity.ca – 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 plantuniversity.ca ???? Easy Animal Free cookbook and featured on plantuniversity.ca ???? 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 plantuniversity.ca. Be sure to tag #PlantUniversity.

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

Prizes

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

???? Easy Animal Free cookbook and featured on plantuniversity.ca

???? 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