A plant-based diet is a diet that focuses on the consumptions of foods that primarily come from plants and their derivatives, with little or no animal products. Being on a plant-based diet does not mean you have to become vegetarian or vegan, rather, you “are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant-based sources” (McManus, 2018).
There are many health benefits with following a plant-based diet. It is said to have a lower intake of, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and higher intake of polyunsaturated and fat dietary fiber than one who follows an omnivorous diet. People who are following a plant-based/vegan diet “tend to show a greater weight loss and better BMIs than those eating meat, and they can be at a reduced risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and mortality from cardiovascular disease” (UHN Staff, 2018). Lastly, living a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes, ischemia, hypertension, cancer, and chronic disease, as well as developing cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure (which leads to heart disease and stroke).
Apart from the health benefits, living a plant-based diet is known to be more environmentally friendly and ethical. Adapting to this kind of diet “global greenhouse gas emissions [would be] reduced by an amount equal to the current greenhouse gas emissions of all cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships. In addition … [will] prevent the destruction of an area of tropical forests and savannahs as large as half of the United States” (Smith, 2014).
I was a pescatarian for a year and four months. I felt a difference in my body while I was pescatarian, I noticed I had more energy and felt healthier. My skin was much cleaner, I slept better and I had been overall more happy with myself. I decided to start eating meats and chicken again in June because I felt like was not getting enough protein and nutrients, and since I was going into culinary school, I wanted to know what my food tasted like (instead of asking people to taste it for me). I do see myself incorporating plant-based foods in my menus in the future as I believe they are getting more popular in the food industry and plant-based foods are a big part of who I am. I want to change the world’s view on plant-based diets — having people choose the vegetarian option at restaurants and know that they are not only known to be healthy but also be very delicious.
The dish I chose to make was Pad Thai. Although traditional pad thai is not vegan, I decided to make a vegan version of the recipe:
TOFU PAD THAI RECIPE
- 100g rice noodle (soaked)
- 50g tofu cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1-2 shallot or garlic cloves (sliced)
- 1-2 garlic chives
- 50g bean sprouts
- 2 tbsp of cooking oil
- Seasoning Sauce:
- 1/2 tbsp of palm sugar
- 1/2 tbsp of fish sauce (substitute: soy sauce)
- 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of oyster sauce (substitute: mushroom sauce)
- 1 tbsp tamarind sauce
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
How to Cook:
- Boil noodles for a few minutes, just until soft. Combine all seasoning ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Heat the cooking oil with medium heat with a wok and add sliced shallot/garlic, fry until fragrant then add tofu, cook for a few minutes.
- Add rice noodles in together with the seasoning sauce. Add water and cook until the noodles become tender and everything is mixed well.
- Finally, add bean sprout and chives and stir until everything is combined. Remove from heat and ready to serve
- You may garnish your pad thai with lime juice and roasted peanuts.
The last time I made pad thai was back in May when I traveled to Thailand. While I was there, I took a cooking class and they gave me a cookbook called “Mama Nois Thai Cookery,” that is where I got the recipe from. I wanted to try making it for the first time (since I came back) by myself, without any help. Trying to find ingredients were quite difficult. I looped around my local grocery store so many times trying to find the sauces I needed for the recipe, it took about 2 and a half hours for me to find mushroom sauce, tamarind sauce, and palm sugar (the workers were not really helpful, as they did not know where the items I needed were located). I did not really learn a new culinary skill with this experience, I just felt like I was cooking any other dish. A challenge I faced was trying to incorporate everything nicely together. The ingredients were not really ‘mixing’ together as nicely as I wanted (the tofu bunched together to one side, instead of being mixed in together with the noodles). Overall this experience was great and I would make this recipe again in the future.
McManus, K. D. (2018, September 26). What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760
Smith, C. (2014, November 15). New Research Says Plant-based Diet Best for Planet and People. Retrieved from https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/new-research-says-plant-based-diet-best-for-planet-and-people
UHN Staff. (2018, June 05). 3 Plant-Based Diet Benefits Retrieved from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/heart-health/3-plant-based-diet-benefits/