By Olivia Catasus
The start of the new year is a time for new ideas, new adventures and time to keep your word on your new year’s resolution.
Admit it — it's not even the end of January 2021, and you couldn't stick to your diet? What if your new year’s resolution could not only help your overall health but the planet as well? Experts say that a more sustainable future could stem from plant-based diets.
Led by FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Research Assistant Professor Dr. Imran Ahmad, a panel of experts joined forces recently to discuss the benefits of a plant-based diet, trends in the health foods sector, and what a more sustainably sourced future could look like.
Russ Widger, owner of SoLitSocial, a marketing company that studies millennial generation trends says plant-based diets make sense to the younger segment of the population.
“One, they’re super into the clean label. They actually pay attention to what they eat,” Widger says. “Two, they're super into transparency, responsibility and sustainability. They want to know—‘Who is this company? How are they treating people? Are they doing the things that I want them to do?’ And if not, number three says there will be no brand loyalty.”
When you think of plant-based or vegan foods, tofu shouldn’t be the only thing that comes to mind. Health-food stores and the idea of clean eating are becoming increasingly popular among a younger generation. New “health-forward” stores and meat alternatives are popping up everywhere you look.
Today, there is practically a plant-based alternative for every meat-based counterpart. Whether you are craving a juicy burger or a cheesy lasagna, more often than not, you could visit your local grocery store and easily find these items.
Experts say you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or nutrition either when choosing the plant-based option.
Florian Bark—product manager for meat and fish alternatives at Planteneers, a plant-based pioneer in the industry—tries to ensure just that. Through a “less talk, more taste” approach, Planteneers promises that their plant-based alternative can do anything that its meat counterpart can. Take the components of a juicy burger for instance. Planteneers offers everything needed to build your delectable plant-based burger right down to the dairy-free deli sauce and vegetarian bacon.
What if you don’t want to give up your weekend t-bone steak or your abuela’s mojo roast pork but still yearn for a better future and a healthier diet? The good news is, switching to even just a partially plant-based diet still makes great strides in the direction of a more sustainable future and an overall healthier lifestyle.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the “flexitarian” (flexible and vegetarian) diet as the second-best overall diet in 2021. Experts say that you don't have to completely eliminate meat from your diet to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism. You can be a vegetarian sometimes, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.
Whether you are looking to be more health-conscious or environmentally friendly in the new year, adopting the flexitarian diet is sure to make a difference.
To learn more about how plant-based foods are produced and where health food trends stemmed from, watch the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s webinar, “Plant-Based Meat Alternative Trends, Applications and the Coming Disruption.”