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Local Plant-Based Companies Pave the Way for a Dietary Shift

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?


With cardiovascular disease as one of the leading causes of death in North America, health experts advocate a shift to a plant-based diet, which has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as have numerous other health benefits.
 
While a plant-based diet overlaps with a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products, it encompasses a wider range of consumption choices. In general, the diet means eating mostly, if not all foods that derive from plants but it can also involve reducing plant products, like sugars, that are highly refined and often appear in processed foods.
 
A plant-based diet has been growing exponentially in popularity, with those adopting it citing reasons related to health, animal treatment, cost, weight loss, and environmental impact. Experts also argue that, like exercise, even small changes towards a more plant-based diet can be beneficial and, ultimately, sustainable in the long run.
 

Where Do You Buy Plant-Based Products?

If you’ve been contemplating  introducing more plant-based food into your diet, fortunately, there are a growing number of companies that offer appealing options. You can primarily find their products at retail businesses that prioritize local, healthy, and sustainable food. Outlets in B.C. include online stores like Vegan Supply and LivLite, and brick-and-mortar establishments such as Gaia Grocery in Tofino, Organic Acres Market in Vancouver, and Vegan Supply in Vancouver and Surrey.

With the current groundswell interest in more plant-based eating, mainstream supermarkets are also stocking products that make it easier than ever to move away from meat consumption.

Local Plant-Based Brands to Know

To help you on your journey with plant-based eating, here are some companies that craft high quality food, maximizing flavour entirely through fruits and vegetables, and other plant-based ingredients.

Elbo Jamaican Patties

Fans of Jamaican patties can rejoice. Christopher Boreland, raised in Toronto, has made it his mission to bring “patties for the people” of Vancouver. He offers three-plant based options: an earthy wild mushroom one with caramelized onions and notes of harissa and garlic; a garden chili one full of cauliflower, kidney beans, bell peppers, sweet corn, and onion; and a vegan spicy “beef” version. All you need to do is heat them up, and they’re ready to enjoy.

Chris Boreland

Save Da Sea

Aki Kaltenbach came to a realization while running her family’s Japanese restaurants in Whistler: she had to create plant-based seafood to help save the planet’s oceans. After founding her Victoria-based business, her first goal was to come up with a version of smoked “salmon,” that would mimic the texture of the original without resorting to food colouring and used whole, nutritious ingredients. Her finished product consists of carrots infused with the flavour of maple syrup, natural hickory, seaweed, and sea salt, so that you get all of the taste of smoked salmon without negatively impacting salmon stocks.

Save Da Sea

Kula Foods 

Asha Wheeldon, founder of Vancouver’s Kula Foods, believes passionately in the power of community to further well-being. Drawing upon her upbringing in Kenya, she creates nutritious products that celebrate African food culture and plant-based eating. Wheeldon’s cooking also incorporates Middle Eastern and Caribbean flavours, which she discovered while living in Toronto. Kula’s products exemplify how plant-based meals can be incredibly flavourful and satisfying. A spicy chick-un stew features soy curls in a smoky and spicy tomato sauce while pulled jackfruit, simmered in BBQ sauce, makes for a wonderful meat substitute in tacos or sandwiches.

Asha Wheeldon - Kula Foods

Nonno’s Pasta Shop 

With the turn to colder weather, a bowl of fresh pasta is especially cosseting. Sister duo, Haley and Heather, opened a lemonade stand together in 1993, marking the start of their adventures as food entrepreneurs. The two have taken time-honoured recipes from their grandparents, Nonno Bruno and Nonna Dea, and made them entirely plant-based. Their Pasta Shop specializes in making two products: ravioli filled with tofu ricotta and nutritional yeast and a classic tomato sauce. While many premade tomato sauces can be full of preservatives, the sisters have kept it simple with just whole tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. You’ll have a plant-based Italian meal grandma would definitely approve of.
 

Nonno's Pasta Shop

Nina’s Pierogies

This family-run business offers pierogies with familiar fillings like potato and cheddar cheese, but also makes plant-based dumplings that are inventive while still staying true to tradition. Fillings include butternut squash with organic sage, yam with sundried tomatoes and chickpeas, and beet with potato and artichoke. Even better, some of their pierogies feature gluten-free dough, in addition to those made with organic unbleached flour.
 

Nina's Pierogi

brEAThe Kitchen

The aromas from a pie warming in the oven are intoxicating. brEAThe, a plant-based bakery, sells a selection of pies and quiches for an easy and nourishing quick meal. The Beef and Mushroom Pie contains rich gravy, mushrooms, and plenty of “meat,” while the Chick N Pot Pie comes filled with shredded chick’n, peas, and carrots. Quiches are equally satisfying, like one with potato, leek, spinach, and plant-based bacon.

Breathe Kitchen Pies

PLANTBASE 

As a committed advocate of plant-based eating, this Vancouver company produces a wide range of items that showcase the deep flavours still possible without meat or seafood products. Their WOO! Sauce, a plant-based version of Worcestershire, has tons of umami, minus the anchovy that’s usually in the condiment. They also make a cream of mushroom sauce that uses coconut cream to give it a lovely creamy texture, and nutmeg and tarragon for extra flavour. And the Ima V Frank gives you all the enjoyment of a ballpark hot dog that’s entirely plant-based.

Plant Base Foods

The Very Good Butchers 

It’s hard to resist the Very Good Butchers, who playfully invite you to try plant proteins in order to support the planet, animal welfare, and your health. Co-founders Mitchell Scott and James Davison took their chef knowledge and applied it to coming up with less processed meat substitutes. Their solution was “butchering” beans. Their Smokin’ Bangers contain organic adzuki beans, along with smoky ancho and chipotle chiles, to give them a flavour reminiscent of chorizo. Meanwhile, the Very Good Taco Stuff’r, featuring organic navy beans and organic vital wheat gluten, has great texture and a spicy kick that would make it a perfect plant-based addition to taco night.

The Very Good Butchers

Plant-Based Eating: The Way of the Future

These companies mark a growing movement towards healthier, more ethical, and more sustainable eating. Even better, the food they lovingly produce is simply delicious, making it pleasurable to eat a plant-based diet. 

Source for “What Is a Plant-Based Diet?”: Kim Allan Williams and Hena Patel, “Healthy Plant-Based Diet: What Does It Really Mean?” in Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2017)

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