NUTRITION

PLANT-BASED VS. ANIMAL-BASED DIETS

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

Ingredients:

  • 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
IMG_6534
All ingredients used.
IMG_6526
Before I began making Pad Thai, I cut tofu into 1.5cm squares and placed them in between two paper towel and a cutting board on top with a pot above it. Just so I can squeeze out any excess liquid.

How to Cook:

  1. Boil noodles for a few minutes, just until soft. Combine all seasoning ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well.

    img_6536.jpeg
    I boiled my noodle for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. 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.

    IMG_6539
    I used one shallot and one garlic clove!
  3. Add rice noodles in together with the seasoning sauce. Add water and cook until the noodles become tender and everything is mixed well.

    IMG_6686
    *This picture is from when I made it back in Thailand because I lost the picture of this step when I was making it!!*
  4. Finally, add bean sprout and chives and stir until everything is combined. Remove from heat and ready to serveIMG_6540
  5. You may garnish your pad thai with lime juice and roasted peanuts.

    img_6544.jpeg
    Finished product!

REFLECTION

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.


REFERENCES:

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/

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