Move over steak, there are other proteins in town

Photo by Cecelia Feor

From left to right, Sabrina Tarsitano, Liam Major, and Trevor Paterson at Copper Branch

Skip the steak and order … the salad?

A recent study out of Dalhousie University has found that Canadians under 35 are three times more likely to be vegetarians and vegans than those over 49.

But appears those numbers are not supported at Durham College.

A poll of 20 students at DC found three of the 20 were vegetarian, or 15 per cent. Elizabeth MacDonald is a student who used to be a vegetarian and then vegan, and now her favourite meat is ribs. “I don’t necessarily eat meat all the time, but it’s just convenient, more convenient then trying to find something that isn’t.”

Changing and maintaining a diet isn’t easy. To stay healthy, a balanced diet needs to be achieved through supplementing protein with foods other than meat, according to JoAnne Arcand, an assistant professor at UOIT. She is also a nutritionist with a PhD in nutritional science, and a registered dietician.

Her studies have looked at how what we eat can cause cardiovascular disease prevention, and how dietary changes can be implemented.

Arcand says there are many health benefits that come from a vegetarian diet. She says these diets can reduce the risk of some cancers and help with diabetes.

But she says it is important the diet is healthy. There needs to be balance and variety, such as beans and chickpeas to replace the protein missing from traditional meat products.

Arcand says people who follow a vegetarian diet need to make sure that adequate amounts of nutrients are being met in that diet through a variety of food.

If unbalanced, it can lead to an iron deficiency, and Arcand says that is a problem in young people with poor diets, vegetarian or not.

Arcand says environmental sustainability and ethical reasons may be why many younger people are starting to follow these diets.

“We would have to look at the research or do some research to find out why, and if this is impacting the decision to follow a vegetarian diet, but certainly I think it probably has a very big factor among young people these days,” she says.

Restaurants can be places of indulgence, but DC’s own Bistro ’67 attempts to meet dietary requirements for its guests and students.

The Bistro has weekly student features, a take-out option for students looking for good quality food on the go.

Tuesday to Thursday students are able to take advantage of the bistro food at The Pantry, located in the Galen W. Weston Centre for Food (CFF). The features range depending on the day, and on Thursdays there are tacos which can be made vegetarian.

Kaitlyn Dover is the service manager at Bistro ’67 and handles food orders and events.

Dover says a lot of items on the Bistro menu can be converted to suit dietary needs. This can be as easy as omitting an egg or sauce to make something vegan, but the restaurant is also careful to not ruin the integrity of the menu items.

“Having plant-based items on the menu gives all of our guests, whether they be vegetarian or vegan or not, gives them the option to choose something delicious and filling,” she says. For example, she says having a great vegetarian dish may sway someone interested in ordering steak to try something else.

Copper Branch in Brooklin is a restaurant offering exclusively plant-based dishes. The menu has comfort favourites, such as burgers, but made with mushrooms or beans for the patty.

Photo by Cecelia Feor. The Aristotle Bowl at Copper Branch.

Trevor Paterson is the restaurant manager. He works with suppliers and does promotional work for the restaurant.

He says the restaurant is trying to break past the stigma of veganism. “Vegan food is so flavourful and there’s so many different options to imitate other foods that people may like.”

Paterson says a lot of younger people come into the restaurant, and they offer a student discount. But there are older guests as well who have heard about it through word of mouth.

Paterson says health factors are the reason people should look into vegan diets. “We’re not expecting people to just transition to veganism 100 per cent obviously. It’s a (process) but I think people should put more plant-based food into their diet.”