Plant-based diets: Put vegetables at the center of our plates

Correspondent Ben Tracy asked actress Tabitha Brown, “Have you ever thought you would make jackfruit tacos for your lunch?”

“Honey, absolutely not. Four years ago, I didn’t think I would be a vegan. Who knew? Isn’t that something life can change?”

If you were looking for someone to spread the plant-based diet gospel, Tabitha Brown would have been an unlikely messenger, considering the food she grew up on: “Honey, I grew up with everything. I’m from North Carolina as a kid, I ate a few things I shouldn’t have – a lot of fried food, a lot of pork and beef, chicken, of course. “

Tracy asked, “So what do you think of vegans?”

“I honestly thought it was for whites, especially white women doing yoga, and maybe they’re part of a cult,” she said with a laugh. “Honey, that’s what Tab was thinking!” “

Brown now believes that giving up all animal products and going vegan herself is what ultimately ended her bouts of chronic pain and fatigue. But she could never have imagined what would happen too.

“And boy, have things happened – I never could have dreamed or thought about that.”

Tabitha Brown serves jackfruit tacos to correspondent Ben Tracy.

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She took her daughter’s advice and started posting videos on TikTok, a healthy mix of what to eat, seasoned with a hint of how to live. The videos have racked up millions of views. She now has a bestselling book, “Feeding the Soul”, and several corporate partnerships.

She said, “My goal is not to judge anyone or impose my lifestyle on anyone. My goal is simply to share what he has done for me. And representation matters, right? So now when people think of vegan, they also think of a black woman with an afro, okay? “

Tabitha Brown’s Recipes:

Only 5% of American households are vegans or vegetarians. But nowadays, there are many that you might call “curious plant”. Many omnivores now swap meat for vegetables, as part of a diet often called “plant-based” or even “flexitarian”.

“Plant-based diets are a huge trend,” said Marie Molde, food trends analyst at Datassential. She said about 25% of Americans now have a flexitarian diet, and plant is one of the fastest growing terms on restaurant menus, up nearly 3,000 in the past four. years.

This is largely thanks to plant-based meat substitutes. The Beyond and Impossible burgers have proven that it is possible to make plants taste like meat – the innovation is now spreading throughout the supermarket.

Molde said: “Name any animal protein or animal product, and now there is a plant-based alternative.”

Seventy-one percent of consumers have tried plant-based meat, and more than half say they are willing to pay more.

“There are two main reasons people turn to plant-based foods,” Molde said. “The first is health, and the second reason, and this is a major reason, is that plant-based diets are believed to be better for our planet and better for the environment.”

Global food production creates one-third of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, and raising animals for food (especially cows) accounts for almost twice as much. ‘global warming emissions than plant-based foods.

“Nobody wants to be told what not to do; they want to be given a solution,” said Ross Mackay, co-founder and CEO of Daring Foods, a company that creates chicken products from plants, headquartered in California, far from Mackay’s native Scotland. “They fired me when I stopped eating Scottish beef!”

Cooking vegetable alternatives to chicken, produced by Daring.

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Tracy said, “I stopped eating red meat, but I still eat a ton of chicken. Are you trying to convert people from real chicken to this one?

“Our mission is, of course, to rethink the chicken’s food system,” replied Mackay. “How do we do that? We go after the chicken lover. This is to go after you. ”

The average American eats about 100 pounds of chicken each year; that’s 8 billion chickens, mostly raised on large factory farms. Daring’s chicken product is made from soy protein and designed to replicate the texture of the real thing.

Tracy sampled some: “Sounds ridiculous to say, but it tastes like chicken!” “

Daring launched its first product in the already crowded alternative chicken market less than two years ago. It is now in over 6,000 retail stores.

“So what is the chicken product that you think you need to really disrupt this market? Tracy asked.

“Chicken cutlet really is the holy grail of chicken,” Mackay said. “From an innovation standpoint, this is the hardest to achieve. But we’re in the first round. We’re just getting started.”

But Ran Nussbacher wonders: what if we just love to eat our vegetables? “People want real food, and real food should just be real food and not pretend to be something that it is not,” he said.

Nussbacher is the founder of Shouk, a chain of Israeli street food restaurants in Washington, DC, where food, including their famous Shouk Burger, is proudly pitched forward.

The Shouk vegetarian burger.

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“If the goal is to reconnect people with the plant world and eat more vegetables, grains and seeds, then why go to all the effort to hide it as something different? Said Nussbacher. “Our philosophy is to do the exact opposite – to actually show people through experience that cauliflower can taste amazing.”

Nussbacher said protecting the planet for future generations was his motivation for putting plants at the center of our plates.

“I have two young children,” he said, “and unlike Elon Musk, I don’t want my children or future grandchildren to grow up on Mars because we destroyed this planet. There is a misconception that the solution to climate change is to buy a Tesla. The solution to climate change starts with reducing the amount of meat we eat and eating more vegetables. “

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Story produced by Reid Orvedahl. Publisher: Ed Givnish.

Check 2021 Sunday Morning Recipe Index for menu suggestions from chefs, cookbook authors, flood writers and restaurateurs featured in our program, as well as the authors and editors of New York Times Cooking.